There was a time when responsible “adult” things eluded me—protection, like insurance, is a perfect example. Why would I pay for coverage in the unlikely event of a problem? I felt invincible in every way. As I have discovered, I might have felt invincible, but feelings aren’t facts.
Life happens to the best of us
I have visited 16 countries, with four new ones on my 2020 exploration agenda, and 41 states. It wasn’t until my trips became more elaborate (international, multi-country, expensive, several weeks, etc.) that I considered travel insurance. Sometimes the decision is a no-brainer. When I planned my second, three-week trip to Africa with the intention to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and go gorilla trekking in Rwanda, the credit card swiped itself. But then there are times when I’m headed to Miami or Vegas for a long weekend – do I really need it?
Travel insurance protects you and your investment from financial loss if anything should happen while traveling, and also serves as your emergency medical insurance.
And for me,
it provides peace of mind.
In your passport, it clearly states that the U.S. government does not provide medical insurance or cover healthcare costs for citizens outside of the U.S. (Medicare/Medicaid). According to the U.S. Department of State, “Although some health insurance companies pay ‘customary and reasonable’ hospital costs abroad, very few pay for your medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can cost more than $50,000, depending on your location and medical condition.” YIKES! One single charge of $50,000 and that’s not even for a hospital stay or the hundreds of tests and procedures they’ll perform once you get there!
There are different plans with varying levels of coverage based on your destination, trip dates, length of stay, trip cost, and your age. I know, it can be confusing.
Let’s demystify and chat about insurance.
Here is the 101 (& a bit of 102) on travel insurance.
What is travel insurance?
It’s a plan you purchase that protects you from risk and losses while traveling including, but not limited to, a cancelled trip, lost baggage, expenses due to a flight delay or missed connection, a medical emergency, or even a lost passport.
What are the benefits of travel insurance?
According to Allianz Travel, benefits fit into a few categories: pre-departure, post-departure, services, emergency medical, baggage, and rental car. Travel insurance will only cover the costs you have pre-paid, and only those that are non-refundable, e.g. flights, hotels, vacation packages, etc.
What should I be aware of when purchasing travel insurance?
- Not all plans will fit your specific needs; think through your circumstances
- Type of trip you are taking: adventure, business, relaxation, etc.
- Special concerns you need to address: medevac by helicopter if you are climbing, traveling while pregnant, insuring children
- Travel insurance does not cover every situation
- Research plans ahead of time re: traveling during a pregnancy, hurricane season, known perils, civil unrest vs. act of terrorism, issues due to traveler intoxication
- Travel insurance covers you for unforeseeable events
- Have you already been approved for that week off from work?
- Did you (& the world) know that tornado was coming?
- Note the difference between Cancel for Any Reason & Cancel Anytime
- Generally must be purchased before or within 24 hours of the final trip payment
- Read the terms for when you can cancel, what % of the total cost you will be reimbursed, and the covered reasons for cancellation.
- VERY important: verify the method of reimbursement—some providers will only give a credit or voucher with them, not cash or credit back to your own credit card.
- While Cancel for Any Reason gives you the most flexibility, it is not always the best option for your unique situation.
- Cancel Anytime does NOT mean for any reason.
- Insurance timeframe
- Plans can be purchased for a single trip or annually, which is economical if you are a frequent traveler.
- Pre-existing medical conditions
- While most travel insurance plans exclude pre-existing conditions, you may seek an exclusion waiver. TravelInsurance.com defines a pre-existing condition as any illness, disease, injury, or other condition that happens prior to a plan’s effective date and for which you experienced symptoms or sought treatment.
- If a claim is filed, insurance carriers will investigate your medical history during the “look back period,” generally three to six months prior to the policy’s effective date, to determine if this is related to a pre-existing condition.
- Read your policy paperwork and understand how to use it
- Know how to reach the insurance company and submit a claim
- Please do not wait until you are in an emergency situation and panicking!
Let’s look at an example of various plans, benefits, and prices.
The website Insure My Trip will provide recommendations based on a proprietary, non-biased algorithm. Say you are a 40-year-old female, US citizen, New York State resident, traveling to Greece, staying 7 days/6 nights, and your trip cost is $3,500 (flight, hotel, car). You want a comprehensive plan.
Their top three recommendations are:
Nationwide, Essential Plan $115.68
Travelex, Travel Select $202
AIG, Travel Guard Protect Assist $154
Below is a snapshot of their offerings for Trip Protection, Medical, Dental, and Pre-Existing Conditions. This is not an exhaustive list of benefits, just a few of the most popular ones.
Purchasing travel insurance can be tricky because of all the moving parts; so after I finish my due diligence, I call an agent. Personally, I always contact Kathy London of Kathy London Travel for her 30+ years of experience in the field.
For further reading on travel insurance, I would suggest visiting the following websites:
Drop a line below and let me and the SGWG community know your thoughts on travel insurance. I’d love to hear from you!