Travel Insurance Overview
Travel Insurance Overview
If you travel outside your home country for business and pleasure the health care plans you may have in your home country may not be designed to provide coverage while you are out of the country. Whether you travel for business or pleasure, international travel involves risk.
A travel insurance policy is a very good idea. It is possibly the best way to protect you against medical costs through illness or injury, against theft or loss of possessions and other accidents that may occur during your travels.
With this in mind, we recommend that you buy travel insurance, which provides coverage for international travelers. Coverage depends on the type of insurance that you buy. You should ask for details on any policy before you decide to buy. In addition, buy travel insurance as early as possible before you start your travel.
If you worry about getting sick away from home, consider purchasing medical travel insurance and carry your ID card in your purse or wallet. In most cases, your existing health plan will provide the coverage you need. See the section on insurance earlier in this chapter for more information.
As to the financial details of your troubles while on the road, that's the job of travel insurance. If you need to cancel or interrupt your trip, or if you become ill during your journey, travel insurance will reimburse you for the expenses you incur due to your bad luck.
Many travelers, however, purchase insurance that they do not need. Many standard homeowner's or health insurance policies, for instance, cover lost luggage or accidents abroad.
Trip interruption insurance and trip cancellation insurance are generally the most useful types of travel insurance because they cover losses that are usually not covered by most travelers' existing coverage. These two types of insurance are often bundled and sold as a package.
Trip interruption insurance covers you during your trip. If an injury, illness or other event prevents you from continuing a trip you've started, trip interruption coverage will reimburse you for expenses you incur because of˙it. Some policies also reimburse you for any unused prepaid expenses. Most commonly, trip interruption coverage is used to cover expenses for returning home early. Or, if you are delayed during your trip and wish to catch up to your original schedule, this type of coverage will often pay the economy fare to rejoin your itinerary. Additional living expenses may also be reimbursed if caused by a coverable delay.
Many trip-interruption policies also cover medical evacuation costs, such as transporting you by helicopter to the nearest medical facility if you are injured while mountain climbing. Like trip cancellation policies, however, these policies generally exclude pre-existing conditions, so be careful not to aggravate your chronic back problem while hundreds of miles away from civilization.
Finally, some trip interruption policies cover expenses in the event that you die during your trip. If you like to prepare for every possible contingency, you might inquire about this coverage.
There are three major types of trip-cancellation insurance one, in the event that you pre-pay a cruise or tour that gets cancelled, and you can't get your money back; a second when you or someone in your family gets sick or dies, and you can't travel (but beware that you may not be covered for a pre-existing condition); and a third, when bad weather makes travel impossible. Some insurers provide coverage for events like jury duty; natural disasters close to home, like floods or fire; even the loss of a job. A few have added provisions for cancellations due to terrorist activities.
Trip cancellation insurance covers you for the period of time before you travel. It reimburses you for any prepaid, non-refundable expenses, such as airline tickets or hotel rooms, that you cannot use because you had to cancel your trip.
Trip cancellation insurance generally kicks in if the cancellation is due to an unforeseen accident, illness or other specified event that affects you, a close family member or your traveling companion. Obviously, many terms are open to interpretation: \"unforeseen,\" \"other specified event\" and \"close family member\" are not always self-explanatory.
For instance, if your chronic back problem flared up and forced you to cancel your trip, your policy might not reimburse you because your illness was foreseeable. Many policies, in fact, specifically exclude pre-existing conditions. Injuries sustained during high-risk activities such as sky-diving are also usually excluded. And, strangely enough, almost every insurer excludes pregnancy from coverage. Be sure you know the reasons for cancellation that will be accepted.
Similarly, be aware that your insurer may define \"close family member\" differently than you do. If you plan a trip with your live-in partner, for instance, and your partner falls seriously ill before you leave, you might not be covered for canceling your trip if only spouses and children are included in the definition of close family member.
Terrorism or political unrest in the country where you are headed may be an allowable reason to cancel, but they are sometimes specifically excluded from coverage.
Finally, keep in mind that trip cancellation insurance covers you before your departure, not during your trip. But when does your trip actually start? Be sure that your policy covers you while you are on the way from home to your departure point. If you have a car accident on the way to the airport, for example, your insurer might consider you to have already departed and refuse to cover your cancellation.
Always check the fine print before signing on, and don't buy trip-cancellation insurance from the tour operator that may be responsible for the cancellation; buy it only from a reputable travel insurance agency. Don't overbuy. You won't be reimbursed for more than the cost of your trip.
Other kinds of travel insurance are generally unnecessary because standard health, homeowner's or renter's insurance covers the same ground. For example, travel accident insurance covers medical expenses stemming from accidents during a trip, but the coverage is usually quite small and is often already covered by your health or automobile insurance. The same is true for sickness/hospitalization medical insurance. Also, beware of pre-existing condition exclusions with both types of insurance.
Check your health insurance policy if you plan to travel in a foreign country. Not all policies cover medical expenses incurred abroad. Even when they do,˙you may need to take along special paperwork to be completed by foreign doctors.
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance
Covers injuries that result in severe maiming or death. Again, most standard accident, disability or life insurance policies cover these accidents, which rarely happen during travel.
On domestic flights, checked baggage is covered up to $2,500 per ticketed passenger. On international flights (including U.S. portions of international trips), baggage is limited to approximately $9.07 per pound, up to approximately $635 per checked bag. If you plan to check items more valuable than the standard liability, you may purchase \"excess valuation\" coverage from the airline, up to $5,000. Be sure to take any valuables or irreplaceable items with you in your carry-on luggage. If you file a lost luggage claim, be prepared to answer detailed questions about the contents of your baggage, and be sure to file a claim immediately, as most airlines enforce a 21-day deadline. Before you leave home, compile an inventory of all packed items and a rough estimate of the total value to ensure you're properly compensated if your luggage is lost.
You will only be reimbursed for what you lost, no more. Once you've filed a complaint, persist in securing your reimbursement; there are no laws governing the length of time it takes for a carrier to reimburse you. If you arrive at a destination without your bags, ask the airline to forward them to your hotel or to your next destination; they will usually comply. If your bag is delayed or lost, the airline may reimburse you for reasonable expenses, such as a toothbrush or a set of clothes, but the airline is under no legal obligation to do so.
Lost luggage may also be covered by your homeowner's or renter's policy. Many platinum and gold credit cards cover you as well. If you choose to purchase additional lost-luggage insurance, be sure not to buy more than you need. Buy in advance from the insurer or a trusted agent (prices will be much higher at the airport).