9 Must-Know Travel Insurance Tips

blog travel insuranceAt The Travel Broker and Today’s Woman Traveller, we always encourage our passengers to sign up for insurance before they head out on a trip. No matter how healthy you are or how certain you are that you won’t need it, just get it!

We don’t like to think about it, but how do you know when a car will hit the taxi you’re riding in or when your mother will become very ill and you need to cancel your trip? Without medical insurance, the cost of treatment in other countries can be staggering. In 2015, the average cost per day for a hospital stay in the U.S. was $5220, in Switzerland $4781 and in New Zealand $2142 (in US $).  Insurance is a small price to pay for travel peace of mind.

There are five main types of travel insurance:

medical, cancellation/interruption, lost/stolen item, evacuation, car insurance (for rental cars).

These 9 tips can help make good travel insurance decisions:

1. Places to purchase travel insurance.

Insurance companies: Check with your insurance company – the one you buy your yearly home and car insurance from. They may have reasonably priced policies available for purchase. You can also check with the American Automobile Association (AAA) or in Canada, CAA. For a 1 to 4 week holiday, you might be surprised how inexpensive coverage can be.

Check your home and car insurance policy inclusions. Your home insurance policy likely covers lost or stolen items while you travel. Your car insurance probably covers you for rental car insurance. Though it’s a good idea to double check. This Rick Steves article offers more Car Rental advice.

Your Company Benefit plan - If you receive benefits from your employer or spouse’s employer, then you and your entire family may be covered. Employer plans often cover you as extensively on travels as they do at home.

Your Credit Card – Many credit cards that charge an annual fee will offer trip cancellation/interruption insurance, car rental insurance and some even offer medical coverage. Check the details and make sure you pay for your trip using that credit card.

Travel Agents – Travel agents are legally obligated to offer you insurance options. They’re not necessarily asking so they can make money. That said though, be sure to compare their price to others. Don’t let an agency tell you that you have to buy from them. That's not true.

2. Purchase insurance as soon as you book your trip, especially cancellation/interruption insurance.

3. For any coverage, check the duration. If you’re on a long-stay holiday of 30 or 60+ days, many plans won’t extend that long and you’ll need to pay additional for the extra time.

4. For Canadians or Americans, be cautious when travelling state to state or province to province. Although plans are honored country-wide, coverage may vary.

5. Check the ‘pre-existing condition’ clause. A pre-existing health condition may apply even if you’ve only been tested for that condition. A common example is the blood pressure test that’s a standard procedure most times you’re seen at a medical facility. Good Times Magazine offers more advice on insurance and pre-existing conditions.

6. To reclaim the value of stolen goods, you may need a police report from local authorities. Don’t leave that country without it.

7. Your home country’s government offers warnings about travel to certain ‘risky’ countries. If you travel to one of those countries, your medical and cancellation insurance may not cover you. In that case, consider purchasing supplemental insurance.

8. If you travel 2+ times a year, it’s likely more cost effective to buy annual travel insurance.

9. Reading through an insurance policy is a long, arduous task. One shortcut is to search certain phrases in the online version of your document. Search for phrases like ‘exclusions, ‘not included’, ‘not covered’ or ‘excluded’. To do this, you may want to copy the policy text to a text editor and then search for those words.

Though researching and buying travel insurance is never fun, it takes just one incident to realize that it’s one of your best travel investments. 

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