Travel Insurance Tips
Do I need Travel insurance? Or Cancellation, Trip Interruption?
Travel insurance documents are full of legal terms, about what mishaps will be covered and what will not, and often with complicated instructions for filing claims should you need to.
But travel insurance, especially medical coverage, is usually well worth it, even if you are in that more costly older demographic. When you are in a foreign country and are injured or cannot continue your trip, you will be glad you took the time to arrange travel insurance and / or cancellation / trip interruption insurance. Here are some tips to consider when buying travel insurance.
Trip Cancellation Insurance These types of travel insurance policies, which cover the cost if you have to cancel your travel plans, usually must be purchased at the same time as the trip tickets. If your travel tour package can be exchanged for a credit for future travel to another destination, or for a different date for the original trip, (and with minimum additional fees), then cancellation insurance may not be necessary.
If you have a non-refundable ticket, then consider getting cancellation insurance. Also check to see what types of reasons will allow you to claim cancellation insurance. Consider also the cost of the tickets or the tour versus the amount of the cancellation insurance, as well as what conditions must be met before claims are paid. Some policies include both trip cancellation insurance and travel health insurance.
Travel Health Insurance Should I buy travel health or travel medical insurance? Do I need it? It depends. If you're traveling within your own country (e.g. Canada), and your regular health insurance covers you anyhwere in the country, you may feel this is not necessary.
Be aware you may have to pay for medical services up front and submit claims to your health plan when you get home. E.G In Canada, Ontario may not pay doctors, hospitals, labs etc at the same rates as New Brunswick, so you may have to make up the difference. For travel outside your own country, travel health insurance is a good idea.
- Check Policy and Travel Dates Make sure the policy effective to-from dates match or overlap your travel dates. My rule of thumb is weigh the cost of the travel health policy against the cost of having to be flown to a hospital or flown home for treatment. (Or, as my daughter so charmingly puts it, "How much it will cost [her] for a flight and hotels to escort my body home?" Point taken.)
- And it doesn't take a major illness or accident to take the fun out of your holiday. Just stumble off a curb or trip on broken pavement -- a hard fall may result holiday dampening experiences such as a cracked rib or broken arm. (This happened to two of my friends - one example in Dominican Republic - neither of whom are particulary clumsy, which shows how suddenly bad things can happen.) Look for policies that best suit you and your pre-existing conditons, age etc. and number of trips you are likely to take.
Existing Insurance Coverage I have an inexpensive policy through my bank that covers tripping and falling and other minor accidents should they occur in North America, Europe or the Caribbean. In other countries, I am on my own. Many credit card and company group health plans offer travel insurance as part of the coverage. Read them carefully or call the company (get the name/ID number of the person you speak to) to be sure you are covered.
Annual Travel Insurance If you take several trips a year, you may find an annual policy less expensive. For about five years now, I have been buying an annual travel health policy that allows unlimited trips to a maximum stay of 30 days/trip. For longer trips, I can add on extra days as needed, and for a minimal fee. The year starts from the date you leave on the first trip under the annual policy, not the date you purchase it.
Take a copy of the policy / number with you AND leave a copy at home with friends or family!
It can be overwhelmimg to realize how many things should be considered before you actually set foot on a plane, train, ship or bus. But by taking the time to go through these tips, some of which you may have done already on previous trips, you dramatically eliminate the little things that can affect you having a wonderful holiday.