Travel Insurance Makes Sense

by on December 15th, 2010
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Anyone who travels extensively should appreciate how important it is to get travel or trip insurance beforehand. I have collected on several such policies and have learned some valuable lessons that I want to share. Consider the recent attention to the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster in Italian waters. Thousands of travelers suffered and a number died. There have also been many other instances of ship fires and terrible airline disruptions for a variety of reasons. It makes economic sense to invest in travel insurance.

To begin with, there are countless companies offering travel insurance and policies. It can be incredibly complex and difficult to fully understand, and costs also vary enormously. My first piece of advice is this: When you book a vacation or trip, typically these days through a website, do not quickly accept what is likely to be offered at the end of the sign up process. The hotel, resort or other provider offers insurance. But I have learned that theses travel policies are likely to be worse than what you could obtain on your own. It pays to go to a reputable travel insurance website that offers a broad range of policies from a number of companies. Why? The main reason for is the details of the policy. You want coverage that is not overly restrictive and burdensome. Otherwise, you may not be able to get paid or too much documentation are required is required.

I recommend using a travel insurance website that provides side-by-side comparisons for similar types of policies. Some details make it far too difficult to collect on your policy. Here is one of the biggest and most important examples of this problem. For medical coverage I learned that you definitely want “primary” medical coverage.

This means that you do not have to seek coverage under any kind of medical or health insurance you have. Instead, the travel policy will pay you without any need to seek or document whatever other coverage you have. I have learned that almost always the travel policies offered by cruise lines and resorts offer secondary medical coverage. This means you first must seek reimbursement from your own regular insurance policy.

Of course, you must also pay attention to the dollar limits for primary medical coverage. You want to think of worse case scenarios and get travel insurance with pretty high levels of coverage, especially for foreign travel where emergency medical treatment, hospitalization or evacuation could be very expensive.

The second big issue is whether a travel insurance policy will cover you if you experience a medical problem that causes you to cancel you trip. To get this kind of coverage you typically must buy the travel insurance very soon after you book a trip and make the first payment of any kind. I recently had to cancel a domestic and a foreign trip because of an unexpected and sudden medical problem that hospitalized me. I have collected on both trips because I had purchased decent travel insurance. Some travel policies actually cover trip cancellation for almost any reasons, but these are typically hard to find and more expensive and must be purchased early.

In another case my wife required medical attention on a cruise vacation and the onboard doctor charged a lot, but our travel primary medical coverage reimbursed the cost without any trouble.

Disruptions during a vacation can also be covered in a policy as well as significant travel delays, which these days can happen for airline or airport problems. You want to look carefully at what kinds of travel interruptions are covered and how much you will be covered for. Just imagine how victims of the Costa Concordia ship disaster could have at least received some financial help from a good travel insurance policy.

Always remember that travel insurance offered by cruise lines, resorts and travel agents usually are overly expensive and have the least desirable coverage terms. Second, if something happens before or during a trip, remember to get as much documentation as possible because you will need it to file a claim.

One travel insurance website that I have used several times to compare and purchase policies, and which has been recommended by many places is www.squaremouth.com.

There is always the temptation to avoid the cost of a good travel insurance policy which for foreign trips can amount to many hundreds of dollars. More people need to think of travel insurance they way they think of auto and home insurance. It can be a wise use of your money to cover the worst things that can happen in life that could cause you to lose a lot of money if you did not have insurance. I collected over $4,000 on the two trips I recently had to cancel.


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