Travel accident insurance is one of the most important things you should purchase before going on a trip and is part of my Ultimate Checklist for Traveling Guide. You need to make sure you have enough coverage while you are away to cover all the possible scenarios.
What Kind of Travel Insurance Is There?
There are several different components you are looking for in your travel insurance coverage. Depending on the length of time you are away, where you are going, what kind of activities you are doing, your age, method of travel, and other factors, you need to find the type of coverage that works for you.
I am going to list the issues I look at each time I go on a trip. It is important to know whether or not you are covered for them.
- Are You Already Covered?
Biggest question. Ask this for everything. You can have coverage from a variety of sources that you have already paid for. Make sure you know the limitations tot he coverage however.
- Your own local health coverage might extend outside of the region or country.
- Work insurance plans might extend outside of the country.
- Spousal insurance plans might extend outside of the country and to family members.
- Your current house/car insurance might extend outside of the country. I just booked my first rental car and found out I was covered under my own vehicle plan.
- AMA members might have extended coverage.
- Professional organization members might have extended coverage.
- Credit cards have built-in insurance for free or an extra fee sometimes.
Taking the time to look at each of your existing policies can save you a huge amount of money.
- Factor in the Exchange Rates On Coverage
Don’t be caught with too little coverage when traveling to low exchange rate countries. Calculate everything in terms of what you need there and at home. It doesn’t just have to be the U.S. either. Some countries may have huge medical costs because of other factors (availability of supplies, cost to bring in supplies and equipment, etc)
- Travel Accident Insurance
The worst possible scenario. You are injured in another country. Medical services quality and cost have extreme ranges across the globe. You will want to identify a minimum amount of coverage per person. For example, if you are in the U.S., it is not unreasonable to be thinking in excess of a million dollars per person to cover a situation.
- Cancellation Travel Insurance
I always get cancellation insurance. You don’t know what will happen before you depart on your trip. Accidents, death, or other emergencies might prevent you from leaving.
It also applies to having a trip canceled while you are on it. If something happens back home or your traveling partner is in a serious accident, then you will need to get home. I think this ties in with the repatriotization travel insurance described below.
Be aware of the policy details. Travel insurance companies can be very sticky on this and will look for any excuse to get out of coverage. If you have any kind of health condition and are not upfront about it when you get your policy, they will find it. I have heard of situations where someone booked an appointment with the doctor (because they could only get it at that time), booked their trip, purchased cancellation insurance at the same time, had their appointment, and then had a health emergency just before they were to leave. The insurance provider did not cover it.
Get everything in writing with a name to follow up with if you have any doubts.
- Are You Covered Where You Are Traveling?
Not all companies will cover every destination. This is very important. I have seen a travel insurance company not cover country that are listed on the travel warning advisory for their own country. Check out the Canadian Travel Advisory page for listing of the current ones.
Ask the insurance provider if they will cover where you are going. My work coverage does cover everywhere, but they will not guarantee access to funds in all places. This means I would have to pay out of my own pocket and claim receipts when I arrived home.
- Baggage Travel Insurance
This one is your typical insurance sold through travel agencies. It handles loss of luggage in transit to your destination. I am not a big fan of it, because I rarely check luggage. However, if you are checking a lot of luggage, then you will want some security in case it doesn’t arrive.
Quite often the airlines, if they are good, will give you some money to take care of the basic necessities until your luggage is found. But if you have valuables in there and they never return, good luck getting any compensation from the airline.
- Lost or Stolen Possessions Travel Insurance
This can happen anywhere and it really sucks. I haven’t found any travel insurance that covers this by default. However, your home insurance probably does already. I am not sure about renter’s insurance. If someone knows, please post a comment.
My home insurance covers all my possessions by default. However, they are subject to the same deductible that is on my home (which is $1,000). I can add individual items as registered items on my insurance policy. These can have no deductible or whatever deductible you want and have a minor extra cost on your overall policy. My home insurance policy covers my camera equipment anywhere in the world now. If it is stolen or damaged.
- Repatriotization Travel Insurance
Some countries and/or tour companies require this. This is insurance to cover the cost of getting you back to your home country. They don’t want you there and if there is an emergency, you need to be able to get home quickly, regardless of the ticket costs.
- Car Rental Insurance
Will you be renting a vehicle while you are there? I just rented my first car two weeks ago. Insurance was quoted for $20 to $30 a day from the rental company. I phoned my vehicle insurance provider and they said I was already covered under their policy so I didn’t have to spend one extra dime.
Where is the Cheapest Insurance?
Good luck. I don’t know and it depends on your scenario and where you live. I shop around and compare, compare, compare. The last two trips I have used Travel CUTS which is more geared towards students. They have really cheap rates, but I don’t have as much insurance coverage need. Prior to that, my work coverage was really good so I would only purchased cancellation through Travel CUTS as well. I wrote about my insurance buying experience with Travel CUTS but I would look around as well.
Shop around and talk to your travel agent if you have one. They often have companies they deal with that give out bulk rates.