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Aug 02, 2017

The Dos (and Don'ts) of Travel Insurance

By Byron Ellis

Going on a trip isn't cheap. You've got the up-front cost of your plane ticket, your hotel room, and your meals, but there are also the unseen costs of time taken off work, adjusting to your destination, and the stress of following your itinerary. Adding the cost of travel insurance to your bottom line might seem like just one more burden or added expense, but in the event you end up needing it buying the right insurance can be the best decision you make for your entire trip.

I personally don’t buy travel insurance that often. There was one trip that I did buy it. I was lucky that I did. My grandmother passed away the day before we were supposed to leave and because of that insurance, the cost of changing my ticket and the cost of my forfeited hotel nights was totally reimbursed.

So if you do buy insurance how do you know if the travel insurance you buy is right for you?

The Do's of Travel Insurance

Before you buy any insurance policy for your trip you need to know what it is you're looking for. For example you need to make sure:

  1. Your Policy Covers Your Destination: Different insurance companies classify things differently. A European policy might be considered void if you fly to Turkey, depending on the company.
  2. You Declare Any Medical Issues Up Front: Pre-existing medical conditions can make your insurance more expensive up-front, but if you make a claim for an issue you didn't declare then your policy might get cancelled when you need it most.
  3. Your Policy Covers The Things That Matter To You: Travel insurance can be used to cover medical expenses, cancelled plans, damaged rentals, and damaged personal belongings. Make sure you know what your big risks are (will you be driving a lot of rental cars, or are you more worried about the $10,000 in camera equipment you're carrying with you?) and get a policy that provides the coverage you need.

The Do Not's of Travel Insurance

Knowing the positive aspects of your insurance policy is a good start, but you also need to be aware of the potential pitfalls that come with buying the wrong insurance for your trip. So when you're shopping for your insurance policy you need to be certain that you don't:

  1. Go For the Cheap Policy: While it might be tempting to go with the cheapest policy, remember that with insurance you get what you pay for. Always shop around before you decide on your policy, and don't cave to sales pressure from someone trying to push you toward a specific policy.
  2. Leave Your Details At Home: When you buy a travel insurance policy you need to be sure you pack all of your paperwork and details with you. Print out copies and keep them with your other travel documents, save copies of your information on your phone, and be sure that there's a back-up in your email inbox. No matter what happens you need to have this information near to hand in case you have to make a claim.
  3. Skip The Fine Print: While it's tempting to just buy a policy after hearing the high notes you really need to sit down and read all of the details. You need to know what's in that fine print because it can be the difference between insurance covering your accident or cancelled flight, and you being out of luck.
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A Little Insurance Goes A Long Way

While it's tempting to skip buying travel insurance because it's an extra cost that you just don't want to have to deal with, it may be better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Like in my case, you never plan on using this type of insurance…but it is nice to have when you need it.

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