Want to protect your family on your next vacation? What you need to know when buying travel insurance
Are you planning a family vacation? Maybe you’re traveling for work. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure you have the right financial protection before you go.
Travel insurance can protect you from a variety of unexpected circumstances. Be it an international business trip or a domestic cruise, you must ensure you buy the right policy. And how do you make sure you have the right coverage? By comparing the options available to you.
The right travel insurance policy enables you to travel worry-free. Getting the right policy means comparing your options. This means weighing up more than just the cost of the policy. You need to look at the features offered by each policy to determine if it will meet your needs.
Comparison of travel insurance policies available through finder.com
When should I get trip insurance?
Travel insurance is your safety-net. It protects your from a range of travel risks that can happen both at home and abroad. You should buy your policy as soon as you have booked any part of your trip. By doing so, you’ll be able to take advantage of the cancellation elements of the policy should anything go wrong.
What are the different types of coverage?
Broadly speaking, there are two types of travel insurance: single trip and annual policies:
- Single trip coverage. This policy type covers you for one continuous journey, which can include multiple destinations. Coverage ends once you have returned home.
- Annual-multi trip coverage. Annual policies provide you with protection for multiple trips throughout a 12-month period.
Within the two coverage types there are various options you can select:
- International. If you’re heading abroad for your next vacation, you need to select an international policy. Make sure the policy covers the region you’re traveling to.
- Domestic. Domestic travel insurance provides you with cover for traveling around these United States. However, most policies require you travel a nominated distance from home (generally 100 miles).
- Comprehensive. Comprehensive plans cover trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage, baggage delay, and travel delay, as well as medical and medical evacuation. Insurers generally offer a basic, mid-range and high-end plans.
- Cruise. Some comprehensive policies cover cruises as standard on comprehensive policies. Other insurers require you either get a cruise-specific policy or add a cruise option to your existing policy.
- Luggage only. Luggage-only policies protect just that, your luggage.
- Medical only. Medical only is great for people who are traveling light and are only worried about the cost of emergency medical expenses.
- Cancellation only. Cancellation only covers you when unexpected events force you to cancel your vacation. The events covered vary from insurer to insurer. Be sure to check the listed reasons for cancellation outlined in your certificate travel insurance.
- Cancellation for any reason (CFAR). CFAR is generally an extension for a comprehensive policy. By paying an additional premium, CFAR allows you to cancel your trip at any time and for any reason. Benefits generally range from 50-75% of your lost prepaid travel expenses.
What’s generally covered?
- Trip cancellation. If you’re forced to cancel your trip (for a reason listed in your insurance plan certificate), trip cancellation reimburses your lost, prepaid, non-refundable expenses.
- Trip interruption. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to cut your trip short and return home (for a reason listed in your policy), a trip interruption benefit reimburses you for the unused, non-refundable part of your trip. It also covers you for additional or increased transportation expenses.
- Travel delay. Travel delay coverage reimburses additional accommodation and travel expenses incurred because of late-running transport. The delay must have lasted a specific amount of time, generally six hours or more.
- CFAR. For an additional premium, CFAR coverage lets you cancel your trip for any reason before your trip commences. You can cancel your trip for any reason, be it you’re worried about political unrest in the destination or you’ve just changed your mind and don’t want to go. Generally, coverage provides a reimbursement of around 50-75% of your non-refundable, pre-paid travel costs. There are various conditions depending on the insurer (for example, after paying for the trip you must buy the policy within a specified number of days and you must cancel the trip a minimum of 48 hours before you’re due to depart).
- Missed connection. If you miss a scheduled cruise or flight, missed connection coverage reimburses any resulting expenses you incur.
- Baggage. Baggage coverage provides a benefit for lost, damaged or or stolen luggage and other personal effects.
- Baggage delay. Baggage delay coverage reimburses you for the reasonable costs to buy essential items. Your luggage must be delayed a specified amount of time (generally 24 hours or more).
- Medical. This benefit covers you for necessary emergency medical expenses incurred during your trip.
- Dental. Depending on your policy,you may have a benefit for emergency dental work.
- Pre-existing conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition, you may be able to get coverage. However, this will depend on your insurer. and conditions vary between travel insurers. Conditions include that you haven’t displayed symptoms recently and you must be a US resident.
- Evacuation. If you’re in need of emergency medical transport due to an illness or injury, evacuation coverage provides you with the transportation to the nearest hospital or appropriate facility.
- Accidental Death. Accidental death coverage provides a benefit for your named beneficiary if you suffer a covered injury or accidental death during a trip.
- 24 hour assistance. Make sure your policy offers 24 hour worldwide assistance. This way, no matter what the situation there’ll always be someone there to lend a helping hand.
What isn’t covered?
Every travel insurance policy has exclusions. These are situations when the insurer will not provide coverage. Most policies exclude:
- Claims for intentional bodily harm, including suicide
- Losses due to adverse weather conditions (if you cancel your trip for this reason)
- Losses incurred while you were participating in an unlawful act
- Losses that are the result of your participation in an extreme sport
- Claims for travel losses where the purpose of the trip was to receive medical treatment abroad
- Claims for situations where you did not do everything within your power to reduce or mitigate your losses
- Losses related to war (declared or not), military actions, civil disorder, and riots
- Claims relating to mental, psychological, or nervous disorders
- Claims relating to existing medical conditions (some offer waivers for existing conditions so check with your provider)
- Losses sustained while you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Losses due to venereal disease, AIDS, pregnancy, or abortion
- Claims for nuclear radiation or radioactive contamination
Who is covered by my travel insurance?
Do I need to buy everyone traveling a separate policy?
No. Depending on who you’re traveling with, you may be able to get you all covered on the one policy. There are several types of coverage including single, couple, family, and group policies. Each has its own benefit.
Are my kids covered?
Yes. If you have young children, your kids are generally covered for free by your travel insurance. Once they are no longer dependants (Dependent children generally have to be under the age of 21 and engaged in full-time study., you can still get coverage for them on one policy, you just need to buy a family policy.
Can my partner and I get joint coverage?
It depends. If the two of you co-habitate, you can be covered on the same policy. However, conditions vary from state to state.
My friends and I are planning a joint trip, can we all get covered on the one policy?
Maybe. For group insurance, you’ll need to contact the insurer to make sure you’re eligible for this type of coverage. For instance, as most states have their own travel insurance regulations, you won’t be able to get group coverage if you’re coming from different states.
How much does it cost?
There are several factors that affect the cost of your travel insurance. These include:
- The level of coverage. The level of coverage is a major factor in the cost of your policy. If you’re traveling light, opt for a policy with a lower luggage benefit. This will lower the overall cost of your travel insurance. If you’re older and have health issues, you may need a policy with higher medical benefits. This will increase your premiums.
- The age of the traveler. Age is the other major factor when it comes to the cost of travel insurance. The older you are, the more risk you pose an insurer, which results in increased premiums.
- Where you’re going. Your destination will impact the cost of your coverage depending on its perceived risk to the insurer.
- The length of travel. The longer you’re away, the more risk you pose to an insurer.
- Number of travelers. The number of travelers increases the cost of your premium. Some insurers offer discounts for insuring multiple travelers on the one policy. However, this is not always the case. You should check with your insurer before buying the policy.
Tips when buying travel cover
- Get your coverage early. You need to take out coverage as soon as you’ve paid for any part of your trip. Certain coverage require you’ve held the policy for a minimum amount. This is generally between 7-14 days since your initial deposit date. The initial deposit dates affects coverages such as CFAR and financial default
- Don’t skimp on overseas medical. If you’re heading overseas make sure the policy offers a high level of medical coverage.
- Get coverage for your pre-existing conditions. If you have a pre-existing condition, check with your insurer about getting a waiver.
- Get cover for only what you need. For example, if you’re backpacking, choose a policy with minimum coverage for luggage. Don’t over-insure your trip.
- Check if there is coverage for cruises. If you’re going on a cruise, make sure it’s covered. While cruise coverage can be expensive, it’s worth the money. Evacuation at sea can be prohibitively expensive.
- Read your policy certificate. Every policy is different. Even if you’ve bought travel insurance before, chances are there will be slight variations in coverage. Make sure you read through the policy certificate.
- Don’t buy cover from your airline. Airlines prey on convenience. While the policies are cheap, they don’t provide much in the way of coverage. They can also be more expensive than going direct to the insurer. The sample quote below illustrates the difference in cover when buying from an airline rather than by going direct, even though it’s the same underwriter:
|Trip cancellation / interruption||Up to trip cost (max $10,000)||$1,000|
|Emergency medical transportation||$50,000||$500,000|
|Emergency medical / dental||$10,000||$25,000|
|Change fee coverage||$150||$250|
|24 hour hotline||Included||Included|
|Existing medical conditions coverage||Available||May be included. Restrictions apply.|
|Frequent traveler loyalty plan||n/a||$250|
*Sample quote traveler details
- Destination: Domestic
- Number of travelers: One (1)
- Age of traveler: 30 years old
- State: California
- Length of trip: Six (6) days
- Trip cost: $600
Useful travel insurance terms
- Actual cash value. This is the amount you paid for an item, less depreciation.
- Baggage. This includes your suitcases and it’s contents.
- Dependent. Your spouse or unmarried children under the age prescribed by your insurer.
- Departure date. This is the date listed on your insurance certificate when you were scheduled to leave on your trip.
- Effective date. This is the time and date your coverage starts.
- Return date. This is the date listed on your insurance certificate when you were originally meant scheduled to return to your final destination.
- Severe weather conditions. This describes weather conditions such as hailstorms, blizzards, or ice storms.
- Premium. The financial cost of buying travel insurance.
- Pre-existing condition. Any condition either you or your traveling companion were aware of or sort treatment for prior to the issue of your coverage.
- Unlawful acts. Any crimes committed by you or your traveling companion while you were away.
Checklist when getting a quote
- How long is your vacation? To get an accurate quote, you’ll need to know your departure and arrival dates.
- How much did your trip cost? To make sure you’re getting the right amount of cover, your insurer needs to know how much your trip cost. This is your prepaid, nonrefundable travel costs.
- When did you make your first travel payment? This date will determine your eligibility for coverages including trip cancellation.
- Where are you going? You’ll need to list every country you’re visiting. This will allow your insurer to accurately assess the risks you’ll be facing.
- How old are the travelers? You’ll need to know the ages of all those traveling with you. This is the age they are at the time of buying the policy, not the age they’ll be when traveling.