Should I Buy Travel Insurance?

 

 

travel insurance

 

Should you buy travel insurance?

I don’t buy travel insurance for domestic flights, but I always buy travel insurance for international travel.

I have been wanting to tell you 3 stories from this summer’s travels, centering around travel insurance. This post will contain affiliate links to the travel insurance company Travelex. (See Disclosure)

3 Stories About Travel Insurance.

In each of these examples having or not having travel insurance was a trip altering factor. It should be noted that I emphatically recommend that my travelers buy travel insurance.

Not sure what travel insurance is? Read Travel Insurance 101 ~ How Travel Insurance Works

Story Number One:

One of my Glam Italia Tour travelers wasn’t paying attention at the airport and didn’t see her flight from her home airport to Charlotte had changed gates. She missed her flight. This meant that she couldn’t get to Charlotte in time to catch her flight to Rome, which set off a very expensive chain of events, and meant that she lost the first day of her 11 day tour.

Primary coverage for global emergencies and evacuations – get Travelex Insurance!

 There is only one flight per day from Charlotte to Rome, and it leaves at 6pm. My traveler had to stay overnight in Charlotte, which meant hotel expenses, she had to buy food in Charlotte – 3 meals. When she arrived in Rome 24 hours late I wasn’t there to meet her because I was in Florence with the other ladies on her tour. Her tour price had included all internal travel in Italy, but now she had to buy a ticket from the airport to the main train station, then a last minute ticket from Termini train station in Rome to Florence at a little over double the price of the original ticket, and get to Florence by herself. All these expenses had to come out of the money she brought with her for her trip, which in turn meant that she couldn’t buy things that she wanted to and had to stick to a very tight budget on her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Italy.

She hadn’t purchased travel insurance, so it was all a complete loss. Had she bought a travel policy the insurance company would have covered her under the missed connection portion of the policy, and she may have been able to recover the cost of the missed day of her tour.

 Missed flights are a nuisance, but they are part of travel. Sometimes your flight arrives late and your connecting flight has departed. Travel insurance can help offset those costs, or completely cover them.


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Related Post: Everything You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

Story Number Two:

Another of my travelers had an issue this summer.

She flew to Rome from JFK airport in New York, but her suitcase went on a world tour of it’s own. Firstly it went to Boston, then it went missing for a while, then it popped up in Amsterdam, disappeared again, went back to New York, and finally came to Rome on day 8 of her 11 day tour.

Her first phone call was to her travel insurance company. They got involved and were able to circumvent the endless hassles of being on hold with the airlines for an hour at a time (at international calling rates!) and got things moving with trying to locate the suitcase. They also covered my traveler for buying clothes, shoes, makeup and toiletries so that she could get on with enjoying her trip.

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 Her travel insurance policy had cost her under $100, and it paid for itself many times over!

Related Post: 7 Travel Essentials You Can’t Leave Home Without

Story Number Three:

This one is my personal story. A week prior to heading to Europe to lead 6 weeks of private tours, I went to Belize on a makeup job. While there I breathed in some kind of heinous spores (as did the photographer and the photo assistant), which incubated for about 10 days and then turned into the worst cough you can imagine. For almost all of the time I was in Europe I had to sleep sitting up. I coughed and coughed and coughed. I also had to go to multiple doctor visits and was given multiple medications. Steroids kept the coughing largely under control for the 2nd half of the time I was away.

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My insurance company was able to track down doctors for me in the various places across Italy that the tours traveled to, and took care of reimbursement for all expenses.

Getting sick while you are traveling can be a nightmare. Travel insurance not only offsets the costs of medical care, but a good travel insurance company will help you get English speaking doctors.

Related Post: 18 Travel Goals You Need In Your Life

In my opinion the main reason to buy travel insurance for an international trip is the medical coverage. Catching a bad cold or a sinus infection is a nuisance but not the end of the world. Getting hit by a car, getting appendicitis, having a heart attack or an aneurysm?? Major, major deal. When choosing a travel insurance policy look at the medical coverage. If something goes drastically wrong you need to make sure you have excellent medical cover and, depending on where you are traveling to, emergency evacuation back home.

For example, if I had to go to hospital in France or in Australia I know that I would be getting the very best medical care in the world and at realistic prices, so I would stay there. If I was in an under developed country or a country with sub-standard medical facilities I would want to get stabilized and then be flown back home, with a nurse, to be treated here in America at a bankrupting price point. For any traveler who is either coming to America, or who’s flight touches down in America en route to somewhere else, get the absolute maximum medical coverage. The cost of medical care here in America will bankrupt you.

Most travel insurance policies need to be purchased at least 14 days prior to travel in order to be effective as of day one of your trip. I recommend that travelers buy travel insurance the same day as they put down their deposit or purchase their airline tickets – whichever comes first. If anything medical happens to you tomorrow you will forfeit the money paid out so far.

I apologize for all the affiliate links and banners in this post. People are always telling me they don’t know where to go for travel insurance, so I have loaded this post with links.

Happy travels!


 

 

Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

Puglia beaches

From our apartment tot he beach in Puglia, on the Glam Italia Tour September 2016

This post contains affiliate links

You’ve probably been working on your summer travel plans already, or maybe just thinking about them. I’m busy putting together this year’s Glam Italia Tours, and today will be sending all my travelers an email about buying Travel Insurance.

When you are traveling internationally it is essential that you buy Travel Insurance.

I always buy travel insurance the same day that I buy my flights. In the time between buying your flights and boarding your plane anything can happen. You can get sick, you could break your leg, you could have a family emergency – there is and endless list of possibilities of things that could potentially prevent you from getting on that plane.

Check out the Top Ten reasons why people buy Travel Insurance and see if it is right for you.

While you are en route to your final destination things can happen. Your luggage might go on it’s own vacation to a different part of the world, you may get stuck in an airport somewhere in between home and your final destination, or you might get sick and not be able to board your next flight.

While you are away there are all kinds of things that could go sideways – everything from not having your luggage, getting robbed, getting sick, breaking a leg. Hopefully nothing will go wrong while you are traveling, but you have to be prepared in the event that it does.

I once caught an upper respiratory infection on a flight to Australia, and got so sick that I wasn’t going to be able to fly home. I ended up getting excellent medical care and was cleared to travel, but without Travel Insurance it could have been financially catastrophic.

We don’t plan on anything going wrong when we travel, but it is a good idea to be prepared just in case.

Insure your Cruise with Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance. Get a free quote.

For years now I have been using Allianz Travel Insurance for all my international travel. There are plenty of travel insurance companies to choose from, and you do need to do your due diligence when researching your policy. I buy the Allianz Classic Plan, which covers me for lost/damaged/delayed luggage, medical (including transport back home with a nurse if needed), trip cancellation, trip interruption, and several other things.

You do need to read the small print about pre-existing medical conditions on any policy you buy. If you have a medical condition you need to find a policy that covers it, and make sure the company tells you in writing how they will deal with your condition should anything go wrong before you leave or while you are away.

One of my travelers last year didn’t buy her travel insurance quickly enough. She had an asthma attack that hospitalized her and prevented her from traveling, but couldn’t use her insurance to cover the cost of her airline ticket because the attack happened inside the 14 day window that her insurance company had between purchase and ability to claim. Had she purchased her travel insurance more quickly she would have been refunded all her costs except for the deductible.

Make sure you understand what is covered and what is not covered on any travel insurance policy you buy. Compare policies and make sure you have adequate coverage. Find out if your insurance company has global customer support and ask them what you have to do if something does go wrong. Allianz tells me to call them first and let them help me get the right help.

Get a Free 10-Day Look with Allianz Global Assistance, the world leader in travel insurance. Get a free quote now.

We don’t plan on anything going wrong when we travel, and hopefully will never have to use our travel insurance, but it is essential to have a good travel policy anyway.


Allianz Travel Insurance

 

Everything You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

If you follow this blog you will already know that I travel, a lot.
I do travel domestically, especially for work, but I also travel internationally multiple times per year, sometimes for work, sometimes for play.
One consistent thread throughout all of my international travel is that I never, ever leave home without travel insurance.
For years I have used Allianz Travel Insurance, but there are plenty of other companies to choose from.

I just read this super comprehensive article about travel insurance on SmarterTravel.com. If you are even thinking about taking a big trip, be it overseas or domestic, you should read this, and bookmark it for later reference.

Allianz Global Assistance Travel Insurance. Get a free quote.

Everything You Need to Know About Travel Insurance

 

 

 

 

All insurance is about minimizing risk, and as travelers, you face three big-dollar risks that travel insurance can cover:

 

  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance (TCI) covers the financial risks of (1) losing some or all of the value of prepayments and deposits if you have to cancel a trip due to sickness, accident, or a variety of other reasons, and (2) the extra costs of interrupting a trip and returning home early for those reasons. It generally applies both if something happens to you and if something happens to a traveling companion or a close relative who remains at home.
  • Medical travel insurance includes coverage for doctor payments, hospitalization, and emergency transport to a medical facility if you suffer an accident or illness while traveling.
  • Rental car collision insurance covers the cost of paying the rental company for damage to a rented car while it’s in your custody.

Other travel risks, although annoying, are generally trivial compared with those. And although many travel insurance policies cover them, you shouldn’t pay a lot extra to buy coverage.

Although causes and payments for most forms of insurance are fairly obvious, the fine print of travel insurance contains numerous gotchas that can cause a lot of problems. Insurance companies pay experts to figure out ways to deny coverage, so if you don’t address the gotchas while planning a trip, coverage you thought you purchased may evaporate.

Allianz Travel Insurance

TCI is ‘Named Peril’ Insurance

 

In insurance jargon, “named peril” simply means that if a risk is not specifically mentioned in an insurance policy’s fine print (usually as a “covered reason”), it isn’t covered. Terrorism? With many policies, you can cancel or return early only if an overt “terrorist act” occurs in your destination, not if there’s unrest in the general area. If your tour operator defaults, you’re covered if the policy includes “default” as a covered reason. But when a policy says “bankruptcy,” you probably aren’t covered if the operator just folds without ever formally filing for bankruptcy. And most work-related cancellations are not included.

The best way to avoid running into a problem with uncertainties about covered reasons is to buy “cancel for any reason” TCI. It’s usually more expensive than conventional insurance, it may not pay in full, and the option may expire a few days before scheduled departure, but it means that you, not an insurance company bean-counter, get to decide whether to cancel a trip.

TCI is useful only if you have deposits and prepayments that are subject to forfeiture or large penalties if you have to cancel. If your arrangements are refundable, forget TCI.

Duplicate Medical Coverage

Medical coverage purchased as travel insurance may be redundant with coverage you already have. Many year-round health insurance programs include doctor and hospital coverage while traveling, and many HMOs will reimburse medical expenses you incur in places where your HMO services are not available.

Although Medicare does not nominally provide coverage outside the U.S., supplement plans C, D, F, G, M, and N include a foreign travel benefit good for 80 percent of “emergency care” expenses, subject to a deductible of $250 per year and a lifetime cap of $50,000. This benefit is probably insufficient for many traveling seniors.

Because most travel medical insurance is secondary, it pays only what you can’t first recover from your regular health program. So if you face an expense while traveling, typically you must pay it up front and make a claim for reimbursement against your regular program when you get home. If you want to avoid having to make a big payment, several companies sell primary medical coverage: To settle a bill, just notify the insurance carrier and it will take care of the payment.

One risk that your regular health insurance may not cover adequately is emergency transport to a hospital, and even many low-end medical insurance policies cover transport only to the nearest adequate medical facility. A few programs guarantee emergency transport back to your home area even if it requires a private jet.

Pre-Existing Conditions

Overall, the biggest problem with the medical component of travel insurance is handling pre-existing medical conditions. That’s a big bone of contention in health insurance programs generally, not just travel, but it certainly applies to travel. If you so much as see a doctor—or maybe even just take an aspirin—some policies will call that treatment for a pre-existing condition and exclude payment. And the meter drops for pre-existing conditions as much as six months prior to departure.

A majority of policies waive the exclusion for pre-existing conditions, provided you insure to the full value of your prepayments and buy the insurance within a specified period of time after you make your first payment or deposit, typically one to two weeks though sometimes longer on a few policies.

But even a waiver doesn’t get you off the hook completely. Most policies do not cover even a “covered reason” that is “foreseeable” at the time you buy the insurance.

RELATED: Will Travel Insurance Cover Pre-Existing Conditions?

Duplicate Collision Coverage

A rented car can easily be worth $40,000 or even more, and whenever you rent a car, you need to have insurance for any damage to that car while it’s in your possession. You can throw money at the risk by buying the rental company’s damage and loss “waiver,” but at up to $30 a day, it can almostdouble the cost of a rental. Fortunately, you have less costly options:

  • Your own auto collision coverage may include rental cars, at least within the U.S.
  • By now, probably most credit cards include no-cost collision coverage, but it’s almost always secondary, meaning it pays only what you can’t first claim on your regular auto policy. Overseas, however, credit-card coverage becomes de facto primary.
  • You can buy specialized primary collision coverage from a third-party source, either as a component of a travel insurance bundle or as a separate transaction, for as little as $8 a day. If you don’t want to risk a claim against your regular policy, third-party collision insurance is a good idea.

But with anything other than the rental company’s overpriced waiver, you have to pay for the expected damage up front and afterward claim reimbursement. If you prefer to just walk away from the problem, your only option is the rental company’s overpriced waiver.

Tough on Seniors

Most travel insurance, either TCI or medical, is priced based on your age. Although young and middle aged travelers, say in their 40s, can usually buy a low-end policy for about 5 percent of total trip cost, seniors over 75 pay about double and seniors over 85 pay triple or more.

Those rates may well be justified in terms of actuarial risk. But it gives older seniors a tough choice.

‘Waivers’ Not Insurance

Some cruise lines and tour operators routinely offer “waivers” of cancellation penalties in the event of some emergencies. Typically, these waivers include roughly the same medical and accident covered reasons as conventional travel insurance, and they often cost less than conventional insurance. But these waivers are not insurance, and they usually provide weaker coverage:

  • Coverage can expire a day or two before departure, compared with the usual right-up-to-departure coverage of regular insurance.
  • Waivers typically do not include a trip-interruption component.
  • The payoff may be in terms of vouchers for future cruises or tours rather than cash.
  • Waivers may not provide relief from the exclusion of pre-existing conditions.

Unless waivers are much less expensive, regular insurance is usually a better choice than a waiver. But waivers are often not age-rated, so they may be the best option for seniors.

Follow The Rules—Perfectly

If you’re relying on TCI or medical insurance to arrange hospitalization or emergency return home, you have to follow the rules about contacting an insurance company representative to make arrangements. If you “freelance” your return home by arranging your own airline flight, for example, or go to an unauthorized hospital, the insurance company can deny your claim.

Does following the rules involve more hassle? Undoubtedly. But that’s the only way you can be sure to have your bills covered.

RELATED: 12 Glitches in Travel Insurance

The Small Stuff Doesn’t Matter

“Gold plated” policies include a small payout for relatively trivial unexpected costs such as lost or delayed baggage, expenses during a delay, and so forth. Having insurance coverage for these low-dollar risks can be nice, but it isn’t worth paying a lot extra. Moreover, many credit cards include a handful of these relatively trivial benefits—be sure to check your card.

‘Easy’ May Not Be ‘Best’

TCI is almost always sold as part of a “bundle” that includes medical coverage and some small stuff. Medical, on the other hand, is available separately by the trip; frequent travelers can buy it by the year.

These days, whether you buy online or through a retail travel agency, before you’ve finished the buying process, you’ll probably see an offer to buy insurance, typically a bundle that includes at least TCI and medical. Even though just clicking that “accept” button is easy, it may not be your best choice. Instead, you’re likely to find some combination of better coverage or a lower price by checking with one or more of the agencies that specialize in travel insurance. All have menu-driven websites that let you enter exactly what insurance you need and then display policies and prices from all the major agencies that offer what you want.

 

It’s About Money, Not the Trip

Life insurance doesn’t prevent you from dying, and travel insurance doesn’t prevent travel problems. Insurance is about money, not the experience. Yes, this may be an obvious “well, duh” observation, but you’d be surprised about how many travelers seem to forget this basic fact. Adequate insurance will make sure you don’t lose prepayments and deposits when something goes seriously wrong and that unexpected medical and transport bills will be paid.

But insurance will not pay for or even arrange substitute flights, tours, cruises, or accommodations that you might need to rescue your vacation. Even with refunds, a serious problem may well cost you a lot of money to fix. And that risk is on you, not an insurance policy.

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