Special Insurance for International Travel

From your automobile and home to your life itself, purchasing insurance to protect your most important assets is a smart financial decision that protects you and your family against disaster. If you are planning an international vacation, you have the option of getting insurance to cover various aspects of your trip. According to a survey from AAA Travel, 38 percent of American travelers would likely purchase insurance for their next international trip; if you’re not sure where you fall in that regard, knowing more about what it covers and entails will likely help you to make up your mind.

Basic types of coverage

According to Investopedia’s Ana Gonzalez Ribeiro, there are five main areas that are covered by travel insurance: trip cancellation, travel medical, major medical, emergency medical evacuation and accidental death or flight accident.

Trip cancellation or trip interruption insurance protects you in the event that you would need to change, delay, interrupt or cancel a trip altogether. Coverage can include everything from flights to the cost of transportation and lodging. According to Ribeiro, policies tend to differ as far as what’s covered, but most will accommodate reasons such as business conflicts, sudden illness or injury, issues related to weather, visa or passport issues and even something as simple as changing your mind. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend trip cancellation in the event of an international outbreak, such as Zika or Ebola.

Travel medical and major medical insurance offers protection if you should be injured or fall ill while traveling. The former will cover short-term medical costs and the latter covers trips that will be longer in length — usually up to one year. This insurance helps you locate doctors, hospitals or healthcare services in another country, and it is thus often recommended even if you have an existing health insurance policy at home. The CDC notes that you can check with your insurance provider before hand to see if your policy is adequate for this purpose.

Medical evacuation insurance, per the CDC, covers emergency transportation to a high-quality medical facility in the event that you are visiting a poorer or lower-income part of the world. It’s recommended that your policy include a provision for a 24-hour physician support center. Accidental death or flight accident insurance will provide benefits to your beneficiaries in the event of death or serious injury in transit.

Luggage and theft insurance

One of the foremost anxieties with travel is the loss or theft of luggage. It is not an unfounded concern, according to AAA Public Relations Manager Julie Hall; more than 22 million bags were mishandled by airlines in 2017. While most travel insurance packages will include baggage, it’s important to read the fine print. According to USA Today’s Timothy Peckinpaugh, travel insurance policies tend to exclude cash, traveler’s checks, passport and tickets, which makes it important that you keep anything of great value on your person or stowed in an overhead compartment where you can see it.

To protect yourself against loss and theft, USA Today’s Aurelio Locsin recommends photographing and documenting every item you pack up into your luggage, double-checking your carrier’s liability policies for lost or stolen luggage and seeing if your credit card company and home or renter’s insurance offer provisions to assist you. If you feel that you are not adequately covered, you can purchase a supplemental policy, but you should be aware that most insurance places limits on your reimbursement.

Common exclusions

Like with any insurance policy, there are some events and circumstances that travel insurance doesn’t usually cover. According to Peckinpaugh, medical travel insurance policies tend not to cover pre-existing conditions, pregnancy, injuries sustained during extreme sports activities or mental health issues. If you require a service or comfort animal, their unexpected medical expenses are not covered under your medical insurance policy. You are also typically not protected if you have to cancel your travel plans due to war or civil unrest, and some policies may even decline to cover you if your trip should change due to an act of God like a natural disaster.

Investing in travel insurance is a great way to protect the investment you make in a planned vacation while providing important peace of mind. If you are unsure which insurance policies might be best for you, speak with friends or family who have travelled outside of the country recently and gauge their experiences in your decision-making.


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