Jul 23, 2014

Travel Like A Boss Series: Travel Insurance -- Yay or Nay?



Let's say it all together...YAY!!! Definite yay. Well, at least where D and I are concerned. If you're an avid traveler, you've probably purchased, looked into, or at least heard of travel insurance. Some of you probably think, "What's the point?" Others of you might have found out the hard way why travel insurance can be so important. One thing is for sure, it's something all travelers should be aware of. As harsh as this may sound, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. Simple as that.

D and I almost always get travel insurance for our trips. Being a military family, lots of things could pop up (i.e.- deployments, last-minute training, TYD's, revoked leave, yadda yadda...the list goes on and on) and cause any one of our trips to be canceled at a moments notice. I don't like to leave life to chance (especially when there's lots of money at stake), so we plan ahead and snag up travel insurance for our big trips. Anything over 5 days, we insure it. Any trip totaling over $700, we insure it. Any trip that takes us to multiple countries on various forms of transportation, we insure it. Any vacation that might have us zip lining or mountain climbing or doing something super adventurous, we insure it (ahem, ourselves). The thing is, you just never know.

Call me a Worry Wort or a Cautious Casey, but when you've forked out thousands of dollars and planned your little heart out for the vacation of your dreams only to have it ripped out from underneath you because of an unexpected issue, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Paying an extra $100 to make sure we're covered for a myriad of unforeseen travel changes or, heaven forbid, an injury or natural disaster, is the kind of peace of mind worth investing in. D and I almost had to cancel our 3rd wedding anniversary trip to Mexico because the start of his first deployment fell right smack dab in the middle of our vacation. At the time, we were naive and didn't have travel insurance. Not only was I a panicked wreck about the deployment, but I was devastated we were going lose thousands of dollars because of cancelling our trip. Talk about adding insult to injury. Thankfully, his deployment got pushed back a week and we happily went to Mexico, but had his commander not worked some magic, we would have been out $2,500. Mexican resorts don't give a rats @$$ about your husband's deployment. That money would have been gone forever. After that scare, we vowed to always get travel insurance for any big trip we might take. So far, we've kept our promise...and thankfully, we've never actually needed it. 

There are gobs and gobs of different travel insurance companies out there. A simple Google search brings up dozens of pages filled with links to various insurance websites and comparisons sites to help you do your research. It's always smart to shop around and see what options are available to you (not all insurance plans are made equal!). If this is your first go at snagging travel insurance, here are some helpful tips to make the search a little easier:

1| Figure out what kind of coverage you need. 
Do you want full coverage? Partial coverage? Need your bags covered? Medical coverage? SO MANY OPTIONS! Decide what coverage or situations would be important to you and price out plans from there. If you don't care about having your rental car covered (because maybe you aren't even renting one on your trip?), then choose a plan that omits that option, if possible.

2| Insure for the full cost of the trip.
Typically, when you are travel insurance shopping, you'll have to put in your total trip cost to get an accurate quote for insurance. Make sure to include items like plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars, excursions...anything you've already pre-booked and forked out a deposit for, include it! 

A few things to consider when choosing the right travel insurance plan for you:

    • Trip Cancellation--most plans have specific terms as to what qualifies as an appropriate reason for trip cancellation, so take note of the wording specific to your coverage!
    • Lost/stolen bags or personal gear--some plans only cover your bags and gear up to a certain amount (per-item limit). Try to find a plan that allows for a higher limit if you've got excessive or expensive gear to cover.
    • Coverage for adventurous sports or activities--some plans may only cover certain sports or activities, so make sure whatever activities you're planning to do while on your trip are covered.
    • Medical expenses--including transport home for serious medical treatment. Make sure to fully disclose any pre-existing medical conditions and medications when choosing a policy.
    • Personal liability--accidents happen and sometimes it's your fault. If someone decides to sue you, don't admit fault until you've talked with your insurance provider, just in case. Travel insurance doesn't typically cover liability while you're driving, so it's always good to make sure you've got coverage for that elsewhere. TIP: obtain appropriate local licenses to operate whatever vehicle you may drive in whatever country you might travel to. Failure to do so may nullify your coverage.
    • Is it safe to travel there? --you may not be covered if you choose to travel to a destination affected by terrorism, war, civil/political unrest or a natural disaster such as a volcano, typhoon, earthquake, tsunami, etc.
    • Extra coverage--life is weird and sometimes airlines or tour companies screw you over with canceled flights, delayed departures, missed connections, or going under. Some insurance plans cover for these headaches, others don't. If you're concerned about any one of these unforeseen issues (or just have really bad luck), maybe spring for the extra coverage.

3| Carefully read through the entire insurance plan, including the fine print! 
What exactly is considered an unforeseen event? Am I covered if I lose my job and can't afford my trip anymore? Are my plane tickets covered? What if a hurricane interrupts my vacation? Whatever the situation, if you think it could happen to you, make sure your travel insurance plan covers it. If you're a military family, this is especially important. Make good and sure your coverage includes a military clause stating that you'd be covered in the event that your trip has to be cancelled due to a deployment, revoked leave, or any other military-related duty. If you're unsure about any part of the fine print, call the company directly for clarification.

4| Keep a copy of your travel insurance plan number and coverage description with you when you travel.
You never know when disaster may strike, so keep those insurance documents on hand--just in case. Add any important phone numbers and contacts you might need in the rare event you might actually have to file a claim, visit a medical facility, or have your trip interrupted.

Reputable Travel Insurance Companies:
Travel Guard (we have used this company)
Travel Insured International via USAA (we have used this company)
World Nomad
CSA Travel Protection
Travelex

While there are many other things to consider before taking a trip, travel insurance should be a bullet point on your "to-do" list. Your time and money are important assets. If traveling is a priority in your life, you can't afford to leave those things to chance, so why not travel smart and give yourself some peace of mind. Fingers crossed travel insurance will always be just a precaution.

For more travel tips from my Travel Like a Boss Series, click here!

12 comments:

  1. this is a great post. we have so many travel insurance options at home (Aus) and I couldn't find many in the US. I think it is a must, especially medical - small price to pay to have peace of mind should something happen.

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  2. I'm actually really embarrassed to say Dan and I do not have travel insurance! As it stands right now, it's not such a big deal. We've lived in Germany over a year with health & liability insurances, so in terms of our actual lives here, we are covered. However when we country hopped more frequently, we were so stupid not to have it!
    I used to travel around with my Macbook Air, Samsung Galaxy phone, passport, driving license, etc. without a second thought to what I would do if any of it disappeared. Fortunately, as EU citizens we don't have to fret about health care as we have coverage for emergencies, but that doesn't mean we could afford to skip out on travel insurance!

    It's something I am looking into in the next month or two so we are covered for future trips. Great post! :)

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  3. Yay for sure! I'm a big believer in travel insurance but my boyfriend who I'm about to move to Germany with is not. I was just getting ready to talk to him about this so this could not have come at a better time, you make some really excellent points! Thank you!!

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  4. Totally worth it! Especially when you're traveling to countries that might have sketchy health systems anyways. We got insurance when we went through India and SE Asia and even though we didn't have to use it, it was a huge peace of mind knowing we had it if we did need it.

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  5. We are getting traveler insurance for the first time. Since we will be traveling back to the state on vacation at the end of the year. As you know Germany to the state cost a pretty penny for tickets.

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  6. We always get travel medical insurance, what was weird for me was the last time we went to America I had travel medical insurance even though I was technically in my home country I was still traveling. I kept imagining if I had to use it how confused the person would be that I was handing them my California drivers license with travel insurance papers! Also good to know is what your credit card offers, I once was on a plane that had a medical emergency happen so we landed as soon as we could and since we had booked my ticket with American Express they refunded me the cost of my new flight.

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  7. Great tips. I've literally never bought travel insurance, despite how many trips we go on. We don't ever foresee anything making us cancel our trip, but you never know! I agree with the above poster (Bailie) - your credit cards assume liability at times, so it's good to know what they do and don't cover.

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  8. Completely agree, it's a great 'yay' for me too! When I left for Africa, if only for my peace of mind, it was the first time I was insuring myself (not with my parents) and it did give me that fall back in case anything happened. I mean you're so far from anyone and anything you know when you travel sometimes!

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  9. I have always wondered about this. We only ever insured a flight to Europe but I never thought about insurance for adventurous activities.

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  10. Since my Mom threatened me with getting travel insurance, I've been getting them since! So far I haven't used/claimed anything from them, I guess it's that peace of mind of having one makes me feel a litter safer for traveling. I usually go for World Nomad! *saying hi from Treat Yo Self!*

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