Using comparison sites is a good way to see the prices of policies from dozens of providers. However, you’ll want to check out the cover each policy offers before making a decision.
A solid travel insurance policy costs between 4 and 8 percent of a trip’s prepaid, non-refundable cost. The best policies offer protection against unforeseen events, medical expenses, and lost or stolen belongings.
1. Know Your Needs
Travel always involves risk, so it’s important to weigh the value of peace of mind against potential expenses incurred should something go wrong. That’s why it’s important to do your homework and compare plans.
There are five main types of travel insurance: trip cancellation and interruption, medical, baggage, and evacuation coverage. Most companies sell comprehensive plans that include all of these, and supplemental policies such as flight insurance (aka “crash coverage”) are also available.
The best travel insurance providers offer a wide range of protections at competitive prices. Pricing varies based on the provider, type of policy, destination and age, but a standard plan that covers emergency health care and nonemergency trip cancellations will generally set you back between 4 and 10 percent of your total trip cost. To find the best deals, price out your trip with each of these providers or check an insurance aggregator. In many cases, you can buy comprehensive coverage directly through these providers and receive your travel insurance card and details shortly after making your purchase.
2. Do Your Research
The best travel insurance companies will offer a variety of coverage options to suit your needs, with specific policies for cruises, for example. They will also offer add-on coverages like cancel for any reason protection. Beware of some tour operators and cruise lines that advertise their own generic protection packages. These are usually waivers, not insurance, and they may exclude important coverages.
A good travel insurance policy will cost you between 4% and 10% of your trip’s total costs. Policies that cost significantly more than this are a red flag, and should be researched further.
It is important to research not just the policy details, but the company that offers it as well. The reputation and reliability of the company matters, and can make or break a claim. Many online travel insurance comparison websites (such as VisitorsCoverage) make this easy to do, and can help you narrow down your options quickly. It is also often worth contacting your state insurance commissioner if you are unable to resolve a problem with an insurer.
3. Compare Plans
Many travel insurance companies offer a variety of plans. Some offer comprehensive coverage while others focus on specific aspects of your trip, such as medical coverage or adventure sports. Some also include 24-hour emergency assistance, which can help with things like rebooking flights or locating lost luggage.
You can find a number of travel insurance providers by searching online. American Express, for example, offers four different package plans and a build-your-own coverage plan. The company also partners with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association to provide medical coverage when traveling abroad.
When comparing policies, pay special attention to the type of coverage you want and any exclusions or limitations. For example, some policies have “cancel for any reason” coverage (with some restrictions), while others cover only the cost of a canceled reservation or a percentage of non-refundable trip costs. Some policies also offer coverage for financial default of travel suppliers, but this is usually a named peril and only applies to certain types of trips.
4. Make the Right Decision
Before you purchase travel insurance, make sure that you completely understand what each policy covers. Some credit cards already provide trip cancellation and interruption coverage, so you may not need to spend more money on a standalone plan. Also be aware that most travel insurance policies do not cover routine medical expenses, such as a doctor’s visit or an annual checkup, and some policies exclude activity-specific coverage, like competitive sports or adventure activities.
Depending on your trip type and the amount of time that you’ll be away, travel insurance could be worth the investment to help protect against unexpected event that could cancel or disrupt your plans. Compare multiple providers to find a plan that meets your needs, budget and risk tolerance, and remember that the more details you know ahead of time, the better decision you will be able to make. Some providers include information about their policies and claims processes on their websites, which can be helpful for comparing options.