At any rate, here are some tips for deciding when to buy travel insurance and tips for choosing the best travel insurance plan:
1. Think about the specific coverage you may need
Most travel insurance policies cover:
- Emergency trip cancellation
- Lost or stolen luggage
- Medical care in case of illness or injury
- Medical evacuation (“medevac”), lie-flat nurse-staffed air flights back home in the case you need to be transported back to a hospital at home
- Medical repatriation, transporting your body back home in case of death.
First, you should always know whether your health insurance covers you when you are abroad. Many American health plans do not. Even if they do, you may be required to pay for all health care expenses out of pocket up front and then deal with paperwork and reimbursement–the last thing I want to be doing in the wake of an emergency! That’s one thing that I like about the General Global Assistance policies. There are no out-of-pocket expenses for medical services up to $1,000.
If you’ll be doing something the insurer considers risky (skiing, backwoods backpacking, adventure sports) some policies specifically exclude injuries caused by such accidents, so you may want to consider buying extra coverage.
2. Consider the relative likelihood that the insured event will happen
Think carefully about your trip and decide what the risk of the insured event happening is and your own tolerance for that risk. In the case of trip cancellation coverage, here are some situations in which you may be particularly inclined to consider it:
- Your flight is expensive
- You are pre-booking an expensive and/or non-refundable hotel, tour package, or a cruise
- You are traveling to a high-risk location during hurricane/cyclone/wildfire season
- You are traveling to a place that has a greater than usual potential for political instability
- You ar traveling to a place where you don’t speak the native language, making accessing and paying for medical care potentially more complicated
- You are traveling with family and/or dependents and want to make getting care, in case of emergency, easier on them
- You have ill family members or health concerns of your own that increase the likelihood you may need to change plans
- You are planning the trip very far in advance.
Obviously, unfortunate things can happen to delay your travels anywhere you go, but the more of the above-listed factors you have, the more you may want to consider buying travel insurance.
3. Find out what your current medical/renter’s/homeowner’s insurance covers
Some of these features may already be covered by insurance you already have. Your existing medical insurance may cover treatment for illness/injury abroad, and your lost or stolen luggage may be covered under your renters or homeowners policy. Check with the companies before you leave to see what they do and don’t cover.