Travel insurance covers business travelers, vacationers, tourists and other related parties from unplanned occurrences before or during a trip.
“For many consumers worried that an extreme weather event or political unrest might affect their vacation plans, travel insurance can provide useful coverage,” says Jeanne M. Salvatore, chief communications officer of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). “But it’s important to understand exactly what it covers and when it makes sense to purchase it.”
To determine if travel insurance is right for you, ask yourself key questions, Salvatore says.
1. If I had to cancel my vacation, would I lose the money I paid in advance?
2. Is there a chance severe weather could interrupt my vacation?
3. If the tour operator were to go bankrupt, would I receive a refund?
4. Is there a chance I will be injured because I plan to be active on my vacation?
5. Will I be traveling with small children or older relatives who might have special needs?
6. Might I need special assistance while on vacation, such as an English-speaking doctor or dentist?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you may be a candidate for travel insurance, says Salvatore.
Most travel insurance policies include three basic types of coverage:
is provided by most travel insurance companies. It helps travelers find doctors, arrange accommodations, contact their families or get other forms of assistance in case of an emergency.
Medical Insurance and Medical Evacuation
provides coverage if you are injured while traveling—for example, being airlifted off a mountain due to a skiing or hiking accident—or in the event you get seriously ill and need to be flown home. Some commercial airlines require very sick passengers to travel on a stretcher with a medical escort; your travel insurer will usually make arrangements for this.
Trip Cancellation, Interruption or Delay
provides coverage if you need to cancel a trip due to sickness, a death in the family, bad weather, delayed shipment of luggage or another disaster listed in the policy. In addition, if you become seriously ill or are injured during the trip, some policies will provide reimbursement for the unused portion of the vacation. (There may be exclusions for pre-existing conditions, so check your policy carefully.)
Some (but not all) policies may provide coverage if the cruise line or tour operator goes out of business. And, for an additional fee, some insurers offer a “Cancel for Any Reason” provision, which provides coverage if you cancel a trip due to “the fear of something that may happen,” such as civil unrest or a forecasted natural disaster.
Other travel-related coverage includes:
• Accidental Death
, should you or a member of your group perish during the course of a trip; and
• Luggage Insurance or Personal Effects
, which provides protection if your luggage and/or personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged.
The cost of a travel insurance policy is based upon the age of the traveler, the specific coverage selected, and the cost of the trip. On average, standard travel insurance policies cost about 5-7 percent of the total cost.
Keep in mind travel insurance is different from the cancellation waivers that many cruise and tour operators offer. Waivers are not insurance; they are relatively inexpensive and provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip, but come with many restrictions. Waivers are not regulated by state insurance departments.
Be sure to check your health and homeowners insurance policies, as well as your credit card company, to see what travel-related coverage you may already have.
There are many different travel insurance companies and types of policies. Before choosing one, talk to your insurance professional or your travel agent and compare companies, policy coverage, benefits and prices. Visit InsureMyTrip.com to review your options. Additional information is available from the U.S. Travel Insurance Association at www.USTIA.org.
Published with permission from RISMedia.