by: Karen Zastudil
You've finally saved enough to go on that dream vacation you've been planning. Now you're wondering if you should buy travel insurance. Do I really need to go to the extra expense? All I can lose is my luggage, right?
Guess again! Anything can go wrong while you are traveling, and I strongly favor buying a policy.
Most travel insurance policies are designed for a variety of travel needs but, I emphatically advise reading the fine print of any policy you purchase regarding any deductibles and health situations. You many find your policy won't cover pre-existing conditions that may cause a problem, or that the medical coverage is only for an injury or an illness -- not both. For emergency aid, travel insurance polices are generally dependable and affordable, but there are still a myriad of gaps in the coverage provided.
You can find polices designed for almost any type of trip you may be planning, such as a single trip for hunting, backpacking, cruises, house rentals, and a host of others. But, the specific types and amounts of coverage you get depend on the policy you choose. It's important to remember that you will only be covered for what is specifically stated in your policy and for nothing else.
Most policies cover trip cancellation, lost baggage, medical, dental, and accidental death coverage. Other policies include emergency evacuation, 24 hour travel assistance, and trip or baggage delay. You may even find policies that include options for collision or damage to rented cars and business conflicts. There are many options that can be covered, but you will have to ask.
The premiums for the policies are generally 5% to 7% the cost of your trip, but fees will vary depending on the your medical history and passengers ages. Many companies offer policies that will include coverage for children at no extra charge.
It is best not to buy your travel insurance from your tour operator. I've listed a few reasons why it may be better to purchase through an insurance company separately.
- Most travel insurance policies offered by the operator are less flexible to your individual needs;
- Provide a lower amount of coverage;
- May only cover a portion of the trip;
Your coverage may be secondary and the insurance will only pay for what you own private health or homeowner's insurance does not cover;
- May duplicate coverage you already have;
- In the event the tour operator liquidates and goes belly up, you would lose not only your trip, but also your premium.
Many travel agents are not fully knowledgeable when it comes to understanding the details of various travel insurance policies and may overlook something that could be important to you or your family and few offer suggestions. Buying travel insurance may be less expensive purchasing through your tour operator or cruise line, but for the reasons listed above, you should really check around.
If you do choose to buy your policy from your tour operator, be sure to use a credit card. Depending on the policy of the credit card issuer, you may be provided with protection against potential default of the operator.
When buying your policy from an insurance company:
- Always get quotes from several companies
- Ask if the plan is pre-packaged or if you can custom design your own
- Can you waive the pre-existing condition exclusion
- Ask if you are covered for cancellation due to a terrorist incident. Don't count of the company to provide information
- Ask any question you can dream up and
- Do ask for suggestions