When I started traveling abroad a few years back, I scoffed at the idea of travel insurance. It sounded like a scam, just a way to lose money. But, with time and hearing the merits of travel insurance, I finally broke down and really looked into it prior to my trip to Turkey in 2013.
Travel insurance is generally considered to be just extra medical insurance when you’re outside of the country, but it can be much more than that. It’s often used for trip cancellations, baggage loss, theft, and even acts of terrorism. I’ve interviewed my friend Jeff Banks who’s professional experience in the travel industry has taught him much about what’s important when purchasing travel insurance. Thanks to Jeff for being the first interviewee on my new blog!
Who Should Buy Travel Insurance?
I strongly recommend anyone who is traveling anywhere to purchase insurance
Why Should Anyone Buy Travel Insurance?
For any type of international travel (including Mexico and Canada), your medical insurance probably won’t cover you. I like to tell my clients that even for the most simple emergency evacuations you can be looking at a bill of $20,000.00 or more. If you are covered, most insurance companies have a service that will put you in touch with a local, English speaking doctor that you can trust.
Besides medical, Travel insurance covers many other areas. You have Trip Cancellation, Trip Interruption, Missed Connection, Lost Baggage, Baggage Delay, Rental Car Damage just to mention a few. If your flight is late getting you to the port for your cruise, the ship is not going to wait for you. You would be responsible to pay for another flight and hotel accommodation to get you to the next port of call. That is money out of your pocket.
How Does One Choose a Good Travel Insurance Company and Plan?
You want to go with well-established company like CSA, Travel Guard, Allianz, or Travel Insured. Don’t go with the lowest price. Look at all the coverages and make a decision based on your needs. Some companies offer Cancel-For-Any-Reason while others cover pre-existing condition. The best company may be different from person to person depending on their needs. To make this easier, I strongly recommend contacting a Travel Agent who can go over your needs and find a plan that most closely matches what you want.. It doesn’t cost any more to have them do it then for you to do it.
I STRONGLY recommend that you don’t purchase insurance from the tour operator/cruise line/airline etc. that you are booking your travel with. For instance, if you are booking a cruise, don’t buy insurance from the cruise line’s web page. You may notice that the policies are from well-known insurance companies. What you don’t know is that these policies usually very basic and don’t offer much protection at all. The restrictions are greater and the amenities are less. Some are written in such a way that you can’t ever use it no matter what happens to you.
What are the Most Important Products or Features a Plan Should Have?
Trip Cancellation and Medical Coverage are the most important features of an insurance Policy. Make sure you read the fine print on these. Each company covers different things.
Are there any Red Flags to be Aware of When Reviewing Plans?
You will be safe if you stick to the major companies listed above. There are a few more out there as well. I can’t stress enough that you should never go with a tour operators insurance. Purchase insurance through your travel agent as a separate item.
Can you Recommend any of Your Favorite Travel Insurance Companies?
My favorite company is CSA Travel Pro. They have great policy that will allow you to add the Cancel-For-Any-Reason option. With that being said, they do not offer coverage for pre-existing conditions. If that is something you need, I would go with Travel Insured.
Jeff Banks has been in the travel industry for the last 7 years specializing in both Leisure and Corporate Travel. He is currently a Meeting and Events planner for one of the top corporate travel agencies in the country.