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What is Travel Insurance? Here is the Definition + Examples

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We want to explore, taste, try, see, and investigate other cultures and landscapes and their varied, exciting histories. But traveling is typically not cheap and comes with its own risks. As Alice said as she stared into the rabbit hole to Wonderland…“curiosity often leads to trouble.”

But how can we protect ourselves from the unknown? It’s easy. In the same way, we protect our health, our cars, and our homes—with insurance. Today, I’ll cover all the ins and outs of travel insurance policies, including where to find and buy one.

Additionally, I will share what most travel insurance policies cover. I’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of travel or trip insurance and whether it’s worth investing in for your next adventure.

What is Travel Insurance?

Insurance

Travel insurance covers medical costs, trip cancellations, lost luggage, flight accidents, and other unexpected travel-related expenses.

It’s a good idea to purchase travel insurance if you’re planning a trip abroad, taking an extended vacation, or looking into that digital nomadic lifestyle.

How much does travel insurance cost?

The cost of trip insurance varies based on the length of your trip, where you’re going, and the type of coverage you need. Generally, the longer your trip and the more comprehensive your coverage, the higher your premium will be.

Travel insurance benefits to know

There are many benefits when you purchase travel insurance. If you get sick or injured while on your trip, medical coverage and insurance can help cover the cost of medical expenses during your trip.

If your flight is canceled or you must cut your trip short for an emergency, travel insurance coverage can reimburse you for some or all non-refundable trip costs. And if your luggage is lost or stolen, travel insurance can help replace your belongings.

Who should buy travel insurance?

Anyone planning a trip abroad or taking an extended vacation should consider purchasing travel insurance. If you have a preexisting medical condition, are pregnant, or are traveling with young children, you may want to purchase a policy that includes coverage for medical emergencies.

What does travel insurance cover?

Most travel insurance policies cover trip cancellation insurance, medical emergencies, lost luggage, and flight accident insurance. Some policies also cover adventure activities like skiing and scuba diving, while others exclude these activities.

What are the exclusions of travel insurance policies?

Most travel insurance policies exclude coverage for preexisting medical conditions and pregnancy-related expenses. They also may not cover costs associated with alcohol or drug use, extreme sports, or political unrest.

Before accepting a plan, check if the insurance will cover you or if you need additional coverage to help you in case of asthma or IBS flare-ups. My biggest piece of advice is to read the plan. All of it. It can be a pain – it could also save you a mint.

Whether a technicality or a loophole, you must read the fine print of any policy you purchase. Those terms and conditions pages are lengthy, but it could save you a giant headache or disappointment later on.

See Related: Best Family Travel Insurance Plans Affordable Plans

Pros and Cons of Travel Insurance

Pros of Travel Insurance

The best advantage of travel insurance is your sense of security. Ultimately, this helps you enjoy yourself more and enables you to rest easily, immerse yourself in the experience, and relax and be worry-free.

Isn’t that what going on vacation is all about? A little R&R? With most travel insurance policies costing 5-6% of your vacation budget, it is both a pro and a con worth considering.

On the one hand, you’re saving money if you have to cancel or shorten your trip. On the other hand, depending on your add-ons, travel insurance can get expensive.

Cons of Travel Insurance

There are a few other disadvantages to travel insurance that need mentioning, too. Insurance companies are making money and ultimately don’t want to pay out on claims.

There is always a chance your insurance provider will deny you coverage or claim reimbursement. So, be sure to consider the right add-ons when selecting the plan.

Then there’s the expense. Depending on your age, health, destination, method of transport, and the activities you plan on enjoying, the insurance cost can be steep. Regardless of the expense, you’ll still have to figure it into your travel budget.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Diabetics: Compare Cheap Options

How to Get Travel Insurance

Family on a Beach Vacation

Travel insurance providers offer different plans based on premiums, exceptions, and coverage for various locations. Before purchasing insurance, customers must read any terms thoroughly. This coverage covers single or multi-day flights.

Per-trip protection covers a single trip and may assist with frequent traveling. The coverage of multiple trips is designed to cover trips that occur within a year. However, no trip may exceed 30 days. This coverage will be available annually to regular travelers, who are protecting the entire year.

Travel insurance costs for travelers will vary a year and a half depending upon coverage and the trip duration. Now that you know all there is to know about travel insurance, it’s time to learn how to get it.

Travel Insurance Companies

Your first step will always be comparing different policies to find the right one for you, whether you want comprehensive travel insurance or simply medical coverage for your next international trip.

The internet makes this easier than ever with sites like World Nomads, Allianz Travel Insurance, and Travelex Insurance Services.

Once you’ve found your preferred policy, it’s time to purchase it. You can do this directly through the insurance provider’s website. And that’s it! Now you’re ready to enjoy your trip, knowing you have a safety net in place should anything go wrong.

Credit cards

Some credit cards offer free cancellation and car rental insurance coverage when you make a booking. The big downside is that policies can’t be tailored to meet your unique circumstances. Most credit card companies include secondary vehicle rental insurance to cover costs not covered by the standard automobile policy.

Travel agents and travel reservation sites

Some travel agents and websites, like Expedia and Kayak, sell insurance when you book your trip. However, these policies are often tied to trip interruption coverage only and do not offer comprehensive medical coverage or coverage for medical evacuation.

In addition, you may pay more for a policy through a travel agent than if you purchased a policy directly with an insurance company.

Primary vs Secondary Coverage

Before you purchase any policy, it’s important to understand the difference between primary and secondary coverage.

With primary coverage, the insurer is responsible for paying out first on any claims. This is in contrast to secondary coverage, where the insurer only pays out after any other policies you may have (such as your regular health insurance) have been exhausted.

Which one you want depends on your needs and preferences. If you want the peace of mind that comes with knowing your claims will be paid no matter what, then primary coverage is the way to go.

See Related: Best Health Insurance for Travel Nurses

Different types of Travel Insurance

While all insurance companies offer coverage for a single trip, others offer options for frequent travelers. If you plan to spend an entire year wandering the globe, you can stay covered wherever you roam.

When you buy a travel protection policy, you have many options. These policies are usually provided in packages called comprehensive plans that include a range of coverage. Some insurers allow individuals to customize their policies and choose their coverages as they see fit.

You’ll also find that certain policies offer coverage for the same or similar issues and scenarios, but not two policies or companies are the same.

TravelInsurance.com is a comparison website offering quotations from various companies that can help you choose what’s best for you. Here’s a list of policies you’ll find from different companies.

International travel insurance

Just because you’re insured for medical expenses and have car insurance doesn’t mean it works in another country. For example, when traveling abroad, your medical insurance in the United States likely won’t operate overseas, and Medicare won’t reimburse you after depart.

Travel insurance may be the greatest solution to many of your woes when traveling internationally. Policies for this kind of insurance vary wildly in price and coverage depending on the company.

Cancel for Any Reason

This is one of the most important coverages for any traveler to have. As the name suggests, it allows you to cancel for any reason and still receive reimbursement for non-refundable expenses, like airfare or hotel reservations.

There are usually some conditions attached, such as canceling at least two days before your trip is scheduled to begin, but this coverage can save you if you have a change of heart or plans fall through.

Some companies that offer this benefit are Travelex Insurance Services, Allianz Travel Insurance, and World Nomads.

Be aware that canceling for any reason is likely the most expensive form of insurance, but it offers some of the best financial protection in case you cannot continue on your trip.

See Related: Best Cancel Anytime Travel Insurance

Trip cancellation, interruption, and delay policies

Travelers in an Airport

This cancellation insurance covers any non-refundable expenses incurred during an event involving travel cancellation or another cancellation for a covered reason as specified in this policy, such as delayed flights or even complications concerning your medical condition.

When a journey is halted for a specific cause, trip interruption insurance covers the non-refundable part of the trip for any purpose.

These plans differ from cancellation waivers because they do not need a specific reason for the covered event and often provide more comprehensive coverage.

Missed connection

This travel insurance reimburses you for additional transportation costs if you arrive late at your port of departure due to missing your connecting vessel, flight, or tour.

Rental car coverage

This provides reimbursement for repairs to rental cars damaged or destroyed during an accident or fire. It does not cover the liability policy that compensates a person whose vehicle has been damaged by a car accident – unless the claim is made against you.

Ask your insurance company to see if your policy can protect your rental vehicle for your vacation. U.S. automobile insurance policies typically don’t cover drivers traveling outside the U.S. and Canada.

Cars are complex as their requirements differ in many nations and regions. Most companies provide liability protection when renting out their cars.

Travel medical insurance policies

Doctor Talking to a Patient

This is the most basic and important coverage you can have while traveling. It’s meant to cover any medical treatment, hospital costs, or evacuations you may need while away from home.

While this insurance may work in the same way as traditional plans, it might be difficult to travel for routine healthcare. In certain situations and destinations, most plans do not cover regular medical checkups.

Be sure to check the limits on your policy, as some only cover up to a certain amount per day or incident. You may also want to consider getting a policy that covers pre-existing conditions.

The insurer is entitled under the policy to limit or exclude conditions that may exist when the policy is taken out. Pre-existing conditions are generally not covered by most policies as standard.

See Related: Best Travel Insurance for Costa Rica

Emergency medical assistance evacuation and repatriation

Insurance plans like this one pay for all of your travel costs in the event of an evacuation if you are hurt and need emergency medical care.

Medication, transport to and from a medical facility, and medication repatriation are all typically covered. Medical evacuation coverage is essential when traveling to destinations enduring high-risk seasons or the risk of natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and earthquakes.

Accidental death and dismemberment insurance

A policy that pays out money if you suffer serious injury or die while traveling is also available – accidental death coverage. This kind of insurance often comes packaged with dismemberment coverage.

If you suffer dismemberment of your hands, feet, arms, or legs, your eyesight deteriorates or you have trouble communicating due to a travel-related accident, your coverage will pay part of the money needed for treatment. Accidents during flights or on certain common carriers, such as a bus or trains, are usually covered.

PRO TIP: Check the fine print to see what the policy covers for digits (your fingers and toes), as some insurance companies will only pay out this policy if you lose a certain number of digits!

Baggage and personal belongings

Depending on what you plan to bring on vacation, lost baggage, baggage delay, and stolen goods are other significant reasons to invest in travel insurance. Connecting flights and foreign airports sometimes leaves us standing around baggage claims, wondering where our stuff went.

Whether it’s technology, jewelry, or footwear, we don’t want to lose our high-priced items when we leave home. Consider what you bring with you, and choose baggage and personal effects coverage that protects all your expensive things!

Travel assistance services

This vaguely named service provides travelers with information about their destinations, 24-hour access to a medical professional, and many other benefits. Basically, if you need assistance with almost anything on your travels, travel assistance services might be able to help you out.

These services are sometimes offered as part of the comprehensive travel insurance plan but can also be purchased separately. When choosing a policy, read the fine print to see what is included in the coverage.

See Related: AARDY Travel Insurance Review: Is it Worth It?

Buy the Best Travel Insurance for You

The easiest way to discover the best insurance coverage is to compare several plans from various providers. We’ve compiled a list of insurance firms and websites to help you evaluate costs.

When it comes to travel insurance, there are a number of different companies that offer a variety of plans. Here are some of the best travel insurance companies to consider when shopping for coverage:

1. AIG Travel Guard

AIG Travel Guard Website

AIG Travel Guard is one of the most well-known insurance providers, and it offers a variety of plans. These plans include coverage for trip cancellations, interruptions, delays, medical emergencies, and more.

2. Allianz Global Assistance

Allianz Global Assistance Website

Allianz is another well-known insurance provider. They offer a variety of comprehensive plans that can be customized to fit your needs. Allianz is one of the largest insurance companies in the world, so you’ll find a bankable policy with 24/7 support.

Coverage options with Allianz include trip delay, cancellation, medical emergencies, cancellation for any reason, and more.

3. World Nomads

World Nomads Website

World Nomads is a good option for travelers who are looking for comprehensive coverage at an affordable price. Their plans include coverage for medical emergencies, evacuations, trip cancellations, lost or stolen belongings, scuba diving, and other extreme sports, among other things.

See Related: World Nomads Insurance Review: Is it Worth It?

4. AXA Assistance USA

AXA Assistance USA Website

AXA Assistance provides travel insurance and assistance services. Its plans include coverage for trip cancellations, interruptions, delays, medical emergencies, and more.

5. Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Website

Travelex is one of the largest providers of travel insurance in the world, and they offer a variety of plans that can be customized to fit your needs. Coverage options with Travelex include trip cancellation, interruption, medical emergencies, lost or stolen baggage, and more.

When it comes to travel insurance, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. The best plan for you will depend on a number of factors, including the type of trip you’re taking, your destination, and your budget.

Be sure to compare plans from various providers to find the best coverage for your needs. Remember that trip insurance is not always necessary.

Additionally, some credit cards offer insurance if you use their card to pay for your trip. Before buying travel insurance, check with your credit card company to see if they offer this benefit and what their coverage includes.

See Related: Travelex Insurance Review: Is It Worth It?

How to file a claim with your travel insurance company

Contact your travel insurance company immediately if you need to make a claim. Honestly, it’s better to contact them if you’re anticipating a scenario where you might need to make a claim.

They will likely require you to submit a claim form, expense documentation, and insurance proof. Once your claim is approved, you will be reimbursed for your covered expenses.

What to do if your travel insurance claim is denied

If your travel insurance claim is denied, you can appeal the decision by providing additional documentation or evidence. You can also contact your state’s insurance commissioner to file a complaint.

How to find the best travel insurance policy for you

When shopping for your trip insurance, be sure to compare policies from multiple companies. Look for a policy that covers the cost of medical emergencies, trip cancellation, and lost luggage. You should also make sure the policy covers your destination and activities.

See Related: Best Senior Travel Insurance Plans & Options

The bottom line on travel insurance: Is it worth it?

Be sure to compare different plans from various providers to find the best coverage for your needs. Remember that trip insurance is not always necessary.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that some credit cards offer insurance if you use them to pay for your trip. Before buying insurance, check with your credit card company to see if they offer this benefit and what their coverage includes.

But is it even worth looking into travel insurance plans? There is a solid case to buy one, as the pros outweigh the cons.

This is especially true if you’re traveling overseas, looking to indulge in extreme sports, have a pre-existing medical condition, or are headed somewhere you’ve never been before and can’t anticipate the concerns that may pop up.

Almost every travel expert (myself included) suggests purchasing travel insurance simply because it’s better to be safe than sorry. You work hard to find time off and to fund these big trips.

Is covering the unknown worth 5-6% of your total trip cost? While that’s all up to you, we certainly think so. We’d rather travel with surety than not at all, and if your trip is canceled, you’ll have coverage of your trip cost along the way.

FAQs

What is travel insurance?

In short, this type of insurance offers protection against financial losses that can occur during your trip. These include canceled flights, lost luggage, and medical emergencies.

This type of insurance can give you peace of mind on your trip, knowing that you’re covered in case of a medical evacuation, emergency, trip cancellation, lost baggage and personal items, and any trip interruption along the way.

What does travel insurance cover?

There are many types of travel insurance, but most policies cover trip cancellation or interruption, lost or delayed luggage, emergency medical coverage, and other medical expenses. You can customize your policy to cover specific needs, such as adventure sports or rental car damage.

Is travel insurance worth it?

You’ll need to make that decision based on factors like the cost of your trip, your destination, and your comfort level.

For example, business travelers traveling a relatively short distance domestically may miss it. But if you’re going scuba diving in Costa Rica, I’d highly recommend it.

However, it’s important to remember that travel insurance protects you from financial risks and losses if something goes wrong. For most people, that peace of mind is worth the cost of the policy.

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