- Foreign medical coverage and
- Trip cancellation.
- Lost luggage, kidnapping and pretty much anything else that can go wrong.
Standard travel insurance policies cover emergency health care and trip cancellations and delays and some cover extras like lost luggage. Even if you’re not worried about getting hurt abroad, you may still consider travel insurance for the cancellation coverage, particularly if you have a long and expensive vacation planned (policies covering nonemergency cancellations will be more expensive by 20-50 percent though most carriers offer annual plans for frequent travelers for $30 – $90 a year). Travel insurance adds 5-10 percent to the cost of your trip so coverage for your $3,000 Hawaiian holiday will run $150-$300 for the entirety of your trip or for 30 days, whichever is shorter. Even the best travel insurance have their limits. Often, in the fine print, you’ll find that plans aren’t as good as you thought. Just make sure:
- Your policy has a high coverage limit on your medical expenses, at leas $100,000, and more expensive policies will cover you for $1,000,000 USD. High coverage limits are important because if you get sick, injured, or need serious attention and have to seek professional care, you want to make sure your high hospital bills are covered. The worst thing you can do is go cheap and get a policy with a $20,000 coverage limit, break a leg, and reach that limit before they are done taking care of you. Don’t be cheap with your health. Get minimum coverage of $100,000.
- Your policy covers emergency evacuation and care separately from your medical coverage. If you are hiking in the woods and you break your leg, your policy should cover your evacuation to the hospital. Medical helicopters are expensive so buy coverage for $300,000 USD.
- Evacuation covers you from the local hospital to your home country. Standard emergency evacuation usually includes this provision, but it’s important you double-check a company will cover the cost of your flight back home if you need it.
- Your policy covers:
- Most countries in the world
- Your electronics* (and have the option for a higher coverage limit)
- Injury and sudden illnesses
- Twenty-four hour emergency services and help line.
- Lost, damaged or stolen possessions like jewelry, baggage, documents, cameras, etc.
- Cancellations of hotel bookings, flight and other transportation bookings if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or some other emergency
- Emergencies, strife in the country visited, etc., that cause you to head home early
- Financial protection if any vendor goes bankrupt, leaving you stuck in another country
*A note on electronics: Most companies have a low limit, $500 USD, as part of their basic coverage. You should buy supplemental insurance if you travel with lots of gear (or a $1200 iPhone!).
What’s not covered by travel insurance?
- Accidents sustained while participating in extreme adventure activities such as hang gliding, paragliding, or bungee jumping unless you pay extra.
- Alcohol- or drug-related incidents: NEVER drink and drive on vacation!!!
- Carelessness in handling your possessions and baggage.
- YIf the problem happened because you were reckless–as defined by the company.
- Medical check-ups and pre-existing needs like insulin for your diabetes, though some offer waivers for pre-existing conditions if you buy a policy on or around their “trip deposit date,” the first day you booked your trip.
- If you left something in plain sight or unattended.
- If civil unrest makes your destination unsafe but your government hasn’t called for an evacuation, you’re probably out of luck too.
Travel Insurance Loopholes:
- You get what you pay for. Maybe you see two companies offer similar plans but one is really cheap because they could smaller payouts, take longer to process claims, deny more people, or have so many rules in the fine print that it turns out you aren’t going to get paid when you think you are!
- Travel insurance is accident insurance. It is there to protect you in case of emergency and, if need be, get you home in a hurry. If you want a global health plan (because you now live in Beijing), you need a completely different type of plan.
The Best Travel Insurance Company for seniors? Insure My Trip, the only one offering older travelers good coverage at affordable prices.
For everyone else, World Nomads is reputable and settles claims quickly and fairly because an ex-nomad owns the company.
Are You Already Covered?
Some health insurance plans cover you while you’re traveling abroad, though coverage varies depending on your policy, so check their explanation of benefits online. Some cover specific illnesses while others may not cover you at all.
Let’s say you’re bringing your fancy DSLR camera to take pictures, or your laptop, in case you need to squeeze in some extra work. The good news is, your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may cover these items while you’re traveling. Many of these policies include off-premise protection, which insures your belongings even if they’re outside of your home. So if your camera is stolen, you might not even need travel insurance to protect you.
The Limits of Credit Card Protection
Some credit cards come with insurance. As a general rule, if your card comes with a fee, there’s a good chance it includes some kind of travel insurance perk. Chase Sapphire Preferred card, a popular with travelers, covers cancellation insurance up to $10,000 per covered trip, usually for emergencies like severe weather and bodily injury. And Citi Prestige Card covers baggage delay up to $500 per traveler, per trip if your bags don’t get to you within three hours of your arrival. Most credit cards have strict rules about when they will and won’t reimburse you for canceled travel, so make sure to read your card’s explanation of benefits online, or just call and ask. If your plan does have a cancel-for-any-reason clause, be sure you understand the terms, like refunding a percentage of the trip in cash or as a credit, since terms vary dramatically. Your credit card won’t offer the coverage you get with a separate insurance plan, but it might reimburse you for up to $1,500 worth of expenses,and don’t cover emergency medical care abroad, either and, in order to be covered, you have to pay for your travel with the card in question, and coverage might exclude travel that you paid for with rewards points, so mind the gaps.
Extra Perks of Third-Party Travel Insurance
If you do decide to buy separate travel insurance, you can purchase it through an independent carrier (Allianz and Nationwide are two of the most popular options) or directly from the airline or agency you used to book your travel. And you might as well take advantage of the perks that come with coverage. Many policies include some level of concierge service like assistance with lost passports, finding medical care or obtaining travel information while abroad and may even help book tours, plan transportation and make restaurant reservations.
Most standard policies cover baggage delays and travel delays, so if your flight to London is delayed in Boston, your insurance may cover a hotel that night and, if the airline loses your luggage, your policy might reimburse expenses like toiletries or clothing to tide you over while you wait for your bags.
How a dog attack in Thailand changed my perspective on travel insurance. Amanda Rootsey was visiting her father in Thailand and, within a few hours of arriving there, had a golf ball-sized chunk missing from her right leg, was suffering from excruciating pain and found herself seeking emergency medical treatment in a rural hospital in a foreign country with no travel insurance. She never expected to be attacked by her dad’s familiar rescue ‘temple dog’, “As soon as I got to my dad’s place, it happened,” said Amanda who, greeting her father, placed her hand affectionately on his shoulder–enough to trigger the dog’s protective instinct and, before she knew it, he forcefully bit her. Amanda was rushed to a primitive nearby hospital and the staff delivered. “If you’re going to get bitten by a dog anywhere, Thailand is a good place because they are very used to those injuries. They had the rabies vaccinations just on the shelf, whereas in Australia these types of accidents aren’t as common,” she said. “It was a very traumatic and painful experience, particularly having the wound scrubbed for five minutes with no anaesthetic.”
You must have motorcycle license to claim on travel insurance if you have a motorcycle accident!! A Canberra woman was stranded in Thailand with horrific injuries after a scooter crash during a surprise birthday getaway. Shani Bourne and her partner Sam William, both 25, were riding a rented scooter in Patong when they crashed into a parked truck while trying to avoid a car swerving towards them. It was Ms Bourne’s first trip overseas and she suffered bleeding on the brain, a fractured pelvis, broken nose and cuts to her face and body as a result of the accident. With no insurance to cover the $80,000 medical evacuation home to Australia’s free medical care, they were stranded in Thailand.“The doctors won’t let us fly with my condition and because our insurance refuses to cover us we have nearly no money left and no way home,” she said, with over $14,000 medical bills and rising. “It’s ridiculous, they won’t even give me painkillers without payment first”. The couple’s insurance claim was rejected because Mr William’s Australian motorcycle licence had lapsed.