1. Why should I buy travel insurance?

Travel is unpredictable. Along with common medical issues that can readily arise in a foreign country, recent epidemics, natural disasters, and security threats give travelers plenty of good reasons to fully insure their health and safety during travel. Some countries are now requiring visitors to show proof of travel insurance prior to entering. Many travel retailers/planners who organize experiences also require travelers to purchase and maintain a qualified travel insurance policy for the duration of the trip.

As customers respond to more destructive, less predictable weather patterns, security threats, and global health concerns, the demand for travel insurance is growing.

Whether you need to get treatment for sickness or injury while abroad, cancel or interrupt your trip due to your condition or the condition of a travel companion or a family member not traveling with you, unforeseen inclement weather or terror event, or if you need assistance with an emergency medical evacuation, travel insurance can be invaluable. There are a few key questions to answer to help you find the appropriate type of travel insurance for your trip.

There is a travel insurance product that can protect you and your trip investment best. The key is to figure out which type of coverage is most appropriate for your needs. For short-term travel, there are two types of plans that may be appropriate...Travel Medical-only coverage and Trip Protection coverage.

2. Travel Medical-only coverage vs Trip Protection coverage

The right type of Travel Medical-only coverage should function like a short-term global PPO plan - using a network of doctors around the world and providing the opportunity for direct payment to the provider.  It should also include coverage for non-emergent care/claims in addition to emergency care/claims, as common illnesses and injuries seem to happen more frequently and predictably. Very few carriers and plans will have all of these attributes. Most travel medical-only plans are available in single-trip (180-360 days) or multi-trip (all trips within a year that are under a specified duration). All such plans should include Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage and 24/7  global medical assistance.

You should consider Travel Medical-only plans when:

  • you do not need benefits to cover prepaid trip expenses or baggage loss, and you are seeking only to cover medical issues while abroad.
  • you are traveling for more than 90 consecutive days.
  • your travel retailer/planner requires a minimum requirement of travel medical insurance.
  • you are on Medicare (basic Medicare plans do not cover any international claims).
  • your domestic health insurance plan does not fully cover medical issues while you are abroad.

Helpful Tips for Travel Medical-only coverage:

  • Make sure the plan has coverage for non-emergent medical care as well as emergency medical care.
  • It is incredibly valuable to have travel medical coverage with options for direct payment to the medical provider, and access to a global provider network of doctors, hospitals, and clinics.
  • The most cost-effective travel medical plans are often those with a $0 deductible. This lowers your overall exposure and can streamline the claims process.
  • Check to see if the plan includes coverage for pre-existing conditions.

Unlike Travel Medical-only coverage, Trip Protection coverage will also insure you in case of trip cancellation or interruption due to illness, injury, or death to you, a traveling companion, and/or a family member not traveling. Many, but not all plans will also include coverage for cancellation and interruption due to unforeseen inclement weather, natural disasters, terror events, and carrier default (check benefits prior to purchase. It should also include benefits for emergency expenses (usually as a secondary form of coverage at the least), emergency medical evacuation, coverage for travel delays and your baggage and personal effects, 24/7 global medical assistance, and more. Many trip protection plans can include upgrades for Cancel for Any Reason, Rental Car coverages, and Adventure Travel.

Trip Protection plans are appropriate when:

  • you wish to cover the trip investment as well as medical coverage while abroad.
  • you are traveling for less than 90 consecutive days.
  • your travel retailer/planner requires a minimum requirement of trip protection insurance.

Helpful Tips for Trip Protection coverage:

  • Make sure the plan has coverage for non-emergent medical expenses as well as emergency medical expenses.
  • The sooner you purchase a Trip Protection plan, the more likely it will cover pre-existing conditions. Generally, if you purchase a trip protection plan within 13 days from the day you make your initial trip payment of any kind, the plan will include coverage for pre-existing conditions (refer to plan details).
  • It is incredibly valuable to have a trip protection plan that includes travel medical coverage with options for direct payment to, and access to a global provider network of doctors, hospitals, and clinics.

3. Doesn't my medical insurance cover me?

Despite what you may think, most domestic medical insurance in the United States limits or does not cover claims overseas, including on a cruise ship. If your domestic medical insurance does cover claims for care received abroad, it is likely limited to emergencies only and it is possibly all subject to your out-of-network deductible. Plus, your domestic health insurance carrier may not have the contracts and connections with international providers that your travel insurance company will have. Travel insurance covers the many gaps often associated with taking U.S. medical coverage abroad.

4. Won't the credit card that I use to pay for the trip reimburse me if something goes wrong?

Not all credit cards cover trip cancellation or trip interruption. Even those that do offer such protection will generally not cover cancellation or interruption due to pre-existing conditions.

5. Should I purchase the travel insurance offered to me through the travel retailer or booking site while I am booking travel?

Coverage purchased at the end of a booking process through the travel supplier usually isn't as comprehensive for trip cancellation, and it typically isn't available for ancillary or upgraded benefits, such as coverage if the supplier falls into bankruptcy or for Collision Damage Waivers. For more detailed info, see our post about Buying Travel Insurance Separately vs Through a Air or Cruise Booking Process...What are the Differences?

Top reasons to have travel insurance:

  1. You become sick or injured on your trip.
  2. You need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to:illness, injury, or death to the traveler, a traveling companion, and/or a family member not traveling, as well as for unforeseen inclement weather and terror events, and carrier default.
  3. Your flight is canceled.
  4. Any reason at all (the Cancel For Any Reason Policies typically require an upgrade and covers only ~75% rather than 100%).
  5. You miss your connection.
  6. A hurricane or inclement weather damages your destination.
  7. Your baggage or personal effects are lost, stolen, delayed, damaged.
  8. You require an emergency medical evacuation from one facility to the nearest adequate facility.
  9. Your travel carrier files for bankruptcy or financial default.
  10. Your passport is lost or stolen.
  11. You need emergency assistance services and 24/7 global medical assistance.

Protecting Your Valuables While You Travel - DOs & DON’Ts*

  • DON’T put cash or valuable items in your checked luggage.
  • DO store your money, passport, and other travel documents separately from each other in your carry-on.
  • DO purchase travel insurance that includes some coverage for baggage loss/damage/theft. @go.wanderwell can help with that!
  • DO Keep receipts for any items that you have purchased for your trip.
  • DO take photos of your suitcase contents to document the items.