Tips for Purchasing Travel Insurance

Don’t leave home without it, says travel agents

Travel Insurance Application
Travel Insurance Application. Peter Dazely/Getty Images

Sitting in a recent seminar with travel agents that covered important aspects of the travel insurance market was an eye-opening experience. There are several obvious reasons to buy travel insurance such as protecting your trip investment and gaining medical assistance while abroad – and while these things seem important to us on a daily basis, we often forgo the insurance. You might want to ask yourself why – I will, especially after hearing travel agents and insurance representatives discuss some of the crazy things that have happened to their clients – insured and uninsured.

Travel agents are there to help you with your trip planning and be an advocate for you on the ground while you are traveling. But while they can help fix flight delays and assist with hotel upgrades, they can’t do much for you in the event of a disaster if you haven’t purchased the right coverage for your trip.

Here are some tips when considering travel insurance:

“The number-one reason is that the cost of a vacation has gone up over the years. You now stand to lose thousands of dollars on a canceled trip. Consumers should be protecting their investment and also be covered if something happens on their trip,”  says Sheri Machet of insurance provider MH Ross.

Phil Drennen of Travel Insurance Center advises consumers to consider their risk tolerance.

“Some people might not care about the price of the vacation, but they do care about being evacuated in an emergency,” he said.

Travel insurance comes in many forms so travelers should consider what is important to them before going on a trip. Drennen advises consumer to consider how much the money they are investing in the vacation and what it is worth to them if they want to cancel.

One of the most complicated parts of the travel insurance purchasing process is figuring out what to do from a medical standpoint. As a consumer, you need to know what your medical plan covers and consider a number of factors that could occur on, or before, the trip.

“Medicare coverage has an out of pocket of more than 10k,” says Drennen.

And he advises those with Medicare to purchase a primary insurance plan.

“ACA (Obamacare) coverage plans don’t do a lot of travel insurance coverage, so make sure you understand the coverage. Many ACA plans have zero coverage outside of the U.S.,” says Machet.

To top it all off, preexisting conditions are still a factor in the purchase and coverage that travel insurance provides. There are what are called “lookbacks” which means that insurance companies will consider your health care record for 60-days, 120-day or more for pre-existing medical conditions. The rules, however, are not as stringent. Maintained pre-existing conditions do not count.

In case you have to ask your insurance provider to cover your trip because of the medical condition of a loved one, there are also conditions with that, as well. There are lookbacks on non-traveling family members, however, they have a different threshold to meet than those with the pre-existing conditions.

Ultimately, despite the myriad options available when it comes to insurance coverage, traveling without it is a mistake. You never know what may happen and sometimes the unexpected can't be helped. Insurance coverage is usually relatively cheap and having something rather than nothing is always a better option.