This post contributed by Travel Guard, our trusted partner for travel insurance.
‘Tis the BUSY season for travel. And whether you’re prepping for a holiday trip or getting ready to buy tickets for your summer vacation, you might be wondering if you actually need travel insurance.
You’ve come to the right place! With a comprehensive travel insurance policy, you can be covered for medical expenses, trip cancellation or interruption, lost or delayed luggage, and more.
There are many ways to purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy: through a travel agency, an online insurance comparison site, or directly through the travel insurance company itself. Many travelers are also discovering that certain credit cards offer some travel-related coverage, ranging from basic to comprehensive. But there are limitations in every case, so it’s important to do your homework.
Here are 5 things to consider when researching travel insurance.
1. Review the core coverages
Use your credit card to book your travel? If that card also offers travel insurance or “trip protection” coverage, make sure you know exactly what that means.
While many cards may offer basic protection for travel accidents, lost luggage, or car rental insurance, your upcoming trip might require something more. Call your credit card company to ask if the travel protection includes the following:
- Trip cancellation and trip interruption
- Baggage loss and baggage delay
- Reimbursement for trip delay
- Travel medical expenses
- Travel accident insurance
- Rental car coverage
- Emergency travel medical evacuation coverage.
Policy details can vary from carrier to carrier, so it’s best to clarify.
2. Know if your coverage is primary or secondary
“Primary” and “secondary” are used in relation to travel medical, baggage, and rental car coverage. Primary coverage allows claims to be filed directly with the travel insurance provider —meaning there’s no need for you to first file a claim and wait for a decision before your travel protection provider can pay. The primary insurer will review your claim with the mindset that there’s no other applicable insurance.
But if coverage is secondary, its provider will want to see an explanation of benefits from the primary insurer, detailing how the claim was processed. Only then will the secondary plan determine the amount of the benefit(s), such as a deductible or co-insurance, it will pay. This could add significantly to the time it takes for you to receive payment on a claim.
3. Consider optional features/benefits
Life’s unpredictable. And there are a ton of variables that could complicate your travel plans. Like if, 4 days before your flight, your cat or dog becomes critically ill and you have to cancel your trip. Does your credit card offer coverage for any of your travel-related expenses in such a circumstance?
Would you be eligible for a benefit if you arrived at your hotel to discover it was infested or under construction? Or the ski slope was closed? What about if you cancelled your trip because you ended up having to work? AIG Travel has recently launched a series of coverage bundles that travelers can have added to standard policies.
The “pet bundle,” for example, offers coverage for the medical expenses of the traveler’s pet(s) and adds the critical condition or death of a domestic pet as a covered contingency under the Trip Cancellation or Trip Interruption clause of a standard policy. The “wedding bundle” offers wedding guests additional trip cancellation coverage if a wedding more than 100 miles from home is suddenly cancelled before the guest departs for the destination. And the “adventure sports bundle” waives exclusions for active/extreme activities identified in travel insurance or protection plans.
If your planned trip involves any special contingencies like these, it’s worth asking your credit card company or your insurance carrier whether they’d offer coverage or reimbursement for these setbacks.
4. Look closely at benefit levels
Say you’ve given your credit card’s “guide to benefits” packet a good read-through and you’re satisfied your card will offer you some sort of coverage for things that might go wrong during your trip. The next vital question to ask: what’s the maximum benefit each policy offers for each type of protection you may need?
This is where comparison shopping comes in. Once you’ve hung up with your credit card company, call a travel agency or an insurer that specializes in travel insurance to ask the same questions.
Similarly, consider the potential cost of being injured or falling ill while traveling abroad. What if you needed to be transported to the nearest medical facility — or even back home for medical care? $100,000 of medical coverage may sound like way more money than would ever be needed for a helicopter or airplane ride. But if you were a cruise passenger who suffered a heart attack in the middle of the Caribbean and needed to be evacuated via helicopter to a hospital with a cardiac team, that could easily cost more than $100,000 after the fact.
While such circumstances are infrequent, you don’t want to be on the hook for these costs. Take a few extra minutes to ask questions about the maximum benefit levels.
5. Read the terms and conditions
Very few people enjoy reading the fine print. But it really can make all the difference.
None of the foregoing is intended to provide complete policy descriptions, terms, limitations and exclusions, or all of the information that consumers may want to consider when availing themselves of travel insurance/protection. For more information, refer to the schedule of benefits for each travel insurance policy or protection plan you’re considering.