Travel Insurance – What You Need to Know
Travel insurance provides protection from certain financial losses while traveling. It can be purchased as a single trip policy or a yearly plan. It can cover a wide range of issues from lost luggage to medical emergencies. It also supplements existing coverage such as homeowners, automobile and health insurance policies.
A travel insurance policy that covers trip cancellation reimburses travelers for nonrefundable, prepaid expenses related to a canceled trip. It’s typically sold as a separate plan or as part of a broader travel protection policy. Some plans allow a “free look” period within which you can cancel for any reason and receive a refund (this will vary by provider).
It’s important to consider the circumstances that could prompt you to cancel or interrupt your trip. For example, if your dad falls on the stairs and sustains a disabling injury, you might need to cancel your summer lake house vacation with the extended family. In this scenario, if the injury is named in the travel insurance policy as a covered reason for cancellation, you’ll be able to file a claim and get most or all of your prepaid expenses back. The cost of such a policy varies, but is usually no more than 10 percent of your total trip costs.
When traveling, things can happen that prevent you from enjoying your trip as planned. You could fall while hiking and break your foot, for example. Or you could become ill from food or water while abroad. In these cases, you may need to cut your vacation short and return home early. If you have purchased a policy with trip interruption coverage, you should be reimbursed for the unused portion of your prepaid, nonrefundable hotel stay and the cost of a new return flight. This coverage is also included in some all-inclusive travel insurance policies.
Travel insurance providers differ on what qualifies as a reason to cancel or interrupt a trip, but the most common reasons include illness or death of the insured or their family members; inclement weather on your way or at your destination; military deployment or civil unrest; and sudden business conflicts. You should familiarize yourself with these terms before you purchase a policy or use one of your credit cards for booking your trip.
A medical travel insurance policy (also known as a trip health insurance or a travel insurance for medical coverage) is a supplemental policy that helps cover costs your standard health or Medicare plan doesn’t pay when you’re traveling abroad. GeoBlue, for example, provides travel medical insurance that works in addition to your domestic health insurance, and their international travelers advocate can help you navigate unfamiliar healthcare systems.
Many people choose to purchase a travel medical plan because their normal health plans don’t extend coverage abroad, and some countries require proof of travel insurance as a condition for a visa. Additionally, travel medical insurance typically doesn’t exclude pre-existing conditions, which makes it a great option for active people and those with chronic illnesses or conditions.
When purchasing a travel medical policy, make sure it’s primary coverage, which means that you can file directly with your insurance company, rather than submitting to your home insurer first. This can save time and money in a medical emergency situation.
It’s always difficult to talk about the possibility of an accident that leads to death, but it is a risk that can exist when traveling. For this reason, many travel insurance policies include accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage. This pays a substantial amount to the beneficiary of the policyholder in the event that a covered accident causes their death or severe injuries. These benefits are often paid in addition to any life insurance policies that the policyholder has in place.
For example, if your parent suffers an epileptic seizure while driving a rental car abroad and crashes the vehicle, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s AD&D benefit would pay to your family. This coverage is also included in a number of our international travel plans, such as the Atlas Plan and the Patriot Plan.
Please review the full terms and conditions of any coverage to understand exactly what’s covered and what is not. You can find this information in the policy documents for the specific policy you’re considering, which are typically located on the main webpage of the plan or on the quote page.