There are many potential reasons to buy travel insurance. The right type of insurance can be a potential lifesaver under certain circumstances. The purpose of this article is to provide tips for purchasing insurance, however first off let’s consider why you might need travel insurance in the first place.
The most obvious reason for purchasing insurance when booking a holiday, is in case you have to cancel your trip. Reasons to cancel your trip may be related to work, family or illness, but even of you think you’d still want to travel no matter what, you can’t predict if there will be a terrorist attack or dangerous weather in your destination, meaning you have no choice but to cancel. Even if you don’t cancel the trip, you have no control over whether your airline, tour operator or hotel will cancel, for any number of reasons, and if you get to your destination, you can still have your hotel or resort evacuated for many reasons, or have your return flights delayed or cancelled without warning.
Assuming that nothing is cancelled you’ll want to be insured in case your luggage is damaged or lost. Once you arrive, you don’t know that your property, or even passports and wallet won’t get stolen. What about if you require daily medication, and that gets lost or stolen along with your bags? Or if you need a prescription or medical care for another reason, maybe getting ill whilst away, or even requiring to be returned back home to be dealt with?
It is tempting to be worried by the above thoughts and brush them off, thinking, “well that won’t happen to me”. Of course, it is important not to be scared or put off that holiday that you’ve been planning, because all the above worries are highly unlikely to be an issue for you, travel is on the whole perfectly safe, reliable and enjoyable. However this is where travel insurance comes in, because if bought cleverly, it means that no part of you needs to worry about any of the above situations because in the unlikely event that anything goes wrong, the right insurance is there to help you.
One big tip once you’ve decided to get insurance is to first check if you aren’t already covered for all or part of what you need. Your existing health insurance, homeowner’s policy, credit card or bank account may have privileges included which cover lost baggage or medical care abroad. Often there will be gaps in what is covered, or very tight specifics, but if you are lucky you may find that you already have some form of useful and valuable travel insurance just through what you pay for in the first place. If you paid for your ticket with your credit card, some providers such as American Express will allow a certain level of baggage cover, and paying a small supplement of around $10 extra when buying your ticket can sometimes award “premium” cover, which means that the insurer pays you immediately, rather than having to wait for the airline to make a decision. You may also find that with credit card payments you are more protected should you chose to cancel or change your travel arrangements. It won’t do you any harm to ask those companies you already deal with and research what you are already covered for before you buy additional coverage.
Another tip is to be wary of blanket policies, or just thinking that buying “travel insurance” means that you are covered. Nowadays there are many different types of travel insurance which can be purchased separately depending on your needs, and policies that seem to cover everything can sometimes have stricter guidelines or less actual real world cover than if you research and buy your policies separately. A specific trip delay or interruption insurance that doesn’t cover cancellation might cost under $10 for example, and often you can purchase insurance not just for one trip but for the entire year for not too much more. If you are travelling within the United States, the chances are that you won’t require extra medical insurance, so buying your policies separately can get you better and more inclusive policies for what you need, without paying for what you won’t. One thing worth noting is that even if you don’t have cancellation insurance, if your flight is cancelled and it is the airline’s fault, Rule 240 of the Contract of Carriage means that they have to refund you anyway – however you are not covered if it is cancelled due to weather or terrorism. This means that cancellation insurance is only worth buying if it does include weather and terrorism, otherwise you may be paying for a service that you are already legally entitled to for free.
An important thing to note is that you should purchase your travel insurance almost immediately after you book your trip. There are things that can either increase your premium or even mean that you aren’t covered, such as any pre-existing medical conditions, previous family medical history, or even weather reports, existing hurricanes and such. Insurance companies are significantly less strict on any of these areas if you purchase your insurance within 15 to 21 days of either paying for your trip in full, or if when paying in installment, if paid quickly after the very first installment. Within this time frame even existing hurricanes shouldn’t affect the price of your cover, as long as they aren’t yet big enough to have yet been given a name!
Perhaps the biggest tip when purchasing your travel insurance, and also when making a claim, is to take significant notes. You’ll want to do your research, and discuss with anyone who will be travelling with you what your specific concerns are. Make notes about what is important to you that is covered by your policies, and when purchasing, take the notes, ask the questions, and note down exactly what the responses are. People selling the insurance to you will be more likely to be honest if they can see that you are being thorough, and will quote them later. The same applies if you need to make a claim – write down everything that everyone says to you when the incident occurs, including names, times, and who they work for. These notes will massively increase your chances of a quick and successful claim, should you need to make it.