What You Should Know About Travel Insurance
BEFORE You Take Your Trip
Many travelers are on the fence about whether travel insurance is a good investment or not. Travel insurance is like any other insurance you really do not appreciate having it until you need it and don’t!
There are a lot of misconceptions about travel insurance that can be swaying you in one direction or the other so we are going to clear things up and give you the facts so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is something you want to invest in or not. *hint you should get the insurance!
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is not just a health insurance plan nor is it just a plan that covers upsets in your trip it is a combination of both! A lot of people mistakenly believe that travel insurance is a waste of money! It is not.
A lot of people believe that it is a very expensive investment, it is not! You can get a really good comprehensive plan for about 2%-8% of your overall trip cost.
You will not really miss having travel insurance until you really need travel insurance. Everyone hopes for the best when they are on holiday which is a great way of looking at things BUT you should always plan for the worse because if the worse comes to pass you want to be prepared.
There are many different plans that are out there to choose from that are offered at different price points. You want to find a plan that offers the most comprehensive coverage for the least premiums, just like you would with any insurance plan.
The Facts About Traveling and Illness
Traveling overseas and getting sick can get costly quickly and it can be very difficult to get health care if you do not have traveler’s insurance. You never really know what will happen on your journey from injuries to illnesses that will require medical attention. Here are some facts about medical insurance:
Your health insurance at home is not the same when you travel overseas.Many travellers make the mistake of thinking that their health insurance will cover their medical bills if they accrue any overseas but they DO NOT!
Roughly 10,000 travellers are hospitalized when they are travelling abroad each year.
The costs can be extremely high for health care in other countries and you may be prohibited from leaving if you rack up a medical bill and do not pay it before you leave.
In some countries you can be refused care if you cannot provide insurance or pay for the care up front.
Travel insurance is not meant to take the place of your regular insurance, it is meant for bona fide emergencies. Acute, sudden illnesses not treatment for pre-existing conditions.
For example, if you leave home and travel with an ear infection, it is highly unlikely that travel insurance will cover a check up with a doctor at your destination BUT if you should wake up on your trip with an ear infection or a suspected parasite, fever or some other sudden onset illness than you will be covered. If you break a leg, pop your ear drum, get bit by something, pretty much anything that comes on suddenly while you are traveling the travel insurance will cover it.
Need a refill for your regularly prescribed medication? That may be a little tricky.
How do I Pay for Hospitalization?
If you are hospitalized on your trip and you do not have access to enough cash to cover the payment, your travel insurance policy agent can provide the hospital with a “guarantee letter” that will allow you to leave the hospital without having to pay the entire bill. In some cases, the traveler’s insurance will not give you the guarantee letter until you have made your deductible payment but that larger depends on the insurance company and their rules.
Be sure to always keep a good document trail of the incident. Any police reporters, medical reporters and other pertinent documents can save you from having to deal with the insurance carrier over an extended period of time.
If you do have the money to pay the bill be sure that you get a receipt for the payment in full and all the pertinent medical documents that are relevant to your case so that you can submit it to the insurance company for reimbursement.
If you had an accident that involved being intoxicated your insurance policy may not cover the costs associated with the incident. You should read any plan completely to know whether you will be covered or not. Typically, if the action can be attributed to neglectful behavior on your part you may be facing a fight on your hands.
In most cases, the alcohol factor will play a role but with some insurance companies, they understand you are on holiday and the role that being intoxicated will not weigh heavily on the outcome. Other insurance carriers have strict guidelines, it all depends on the carrier. Read your policy and ask questions!
Facts About Cancelations and Lost Luggage
According to Association of European Airlines you are looking at a 1 in 77 chance that your luggage will get lost somewhere along your trip.
While that does not seem like huge odds against you we can help you to put it in perspective by reminding you on a jumbo jet you may be among 200 passengers. That means roughly 3 people on board that flight will have to move on without their luggage.
You may not be one of the 3 people but someone has to draw the short straw and it just maybe you. Losing your luggage is not the end of the world BUT it can start to get costly when you have to re purchase everything that you need for your trip or that you have bought on your trip. Insurance can help to take away some of the sting.
One of the most hated things about traveling is getting one of those really great ticket prices that has all those caveats attached to the pricing, like non-refundable in cases of inclement weather or faulty equipment or whatever else they add to that great deal to keep you from getting it.
Travel insurance is a great way to get the great deal and get some compensation if the trip gets canceled through your fault or there are delays or other upsets you will be covered.
What Type of Losses Will Be Covered?
Of course, most people want to know if I lose my luggage on my trip and I have traveller’s insurance what losses will be covered, the answer is not very specific because it depends on the type of insurance you have, the level of your policy and your policy limits.
Make sure you get the documentation from the airlines that your baggage has been lost that is specific to the flight and date of travel. You can buy “necessities” like clothing and toiletries that you need but you should not run out and replace that expensive camera equipment until you hear from the insurance company because they may and they may not cover it.
Passports, Legal Help
Let’s say you lose your passport or it is stolen and you have to make your way to your home countries embassy where you will have to pay a fee for a new passport, depending on your travel insurance plan it will likely be covered.
If you find yourself in a legal bind in a foreign location as long as you were not doing something that you knew to be illegal, you may be able to get fines and legal fees covered. It all depends on the plan and what type of coverage you opted for.
Now on the other hand if you became intoxicated and caused vandalism you are likely going to be on your own. If you accidently did not obey a driving rule because you were not aware of the rule you may be able to get some coverage.
Read Your Policy!
One of the critical mistakes that travelers make when it comes to getting the most out of their travel insurance is that they do not read their policy so they are not sure of the coverage. You have to read the policy so that you know what you are covered for and what you are not covered for so there are no surprises.
There are clear headings like:
- Personal liability
- Catastrophic Limits
- Replacement Coverage
- Personal Items
And other headings that are self-describing that will give you the details that you need to know about your plan. Read below for more information about some of the most common terms and definitions to know about travel insurance.
What are “deductibles”?
When you read through a travel insurance policy you will see the word “deductible” quite a bit. The easiest way to explain what a deductible is, is that it is the amount of money you have to pay before the insurance coverage starts.
For example, if you get sick on your trip and have to seek emergency medical care, your “deductible” maybe $50 USD, which means that you have to pay out of pocket the first $50 and then the insurance pays the rest of the fees and charges. Ultimately low deductibles are a good idea.
Ask your insurer about the time constraints on your policy. For example, if you buy your policy today and you are leaving in 2 days but your flight is canceled will you be covered?
In most cases there is a 7-day grace period between the time you buy the plan and when the policy will start coverage for things like delays and cancellations. Your best bet is to always ask!
Extending Your Travel Insurance
What if you have had a change in plans and want to stay a bit longer or jet off to someplace different?
Simply call your travel insurance agent and let them know that you need the plan to be extended. You will have to pay an additional premium but it is usually something you can handle by phone or email. It is always best to take the extra step of calling to extend your coverage period instead of letting it lapse and taking the risk.
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How Are Claims Paid?
Typically, your claim will be processed quickly if you have all your documents that are needed. In many cases, you will wind up paying out of pocket and being reimbursed so that you do not have to interrupt your holiday.
Every company is a bit different in how they pay out claims, the best advice is to compare your options then ask pointed questions when you are speaking with an agent about how claims are handled to get the best fact-filled information.
Since each company has their own processing times it will not do much good to ask other travelers about their claim experience with a different company.
Before you begin your travel be sure that you understand how to file a claim also be sure to get:
A good claim reporting phone number
Understand the time limits on filing a claim
Have the proper forms to file should you need to
50% of all travel claims that are denied are denied because the traveler did not follow the claim instructions correctly! Don’t risk your claim being denied. Follow all instructions and be sure you use the proper forms.
Overall Advice-GET TRAVEL INSURANCE
You can shop around and compare rates on travel insurance to get the best value. In almost all cases it is a very affordable option and in ALL cases it is something you will regret not having if something should go wrong on your trip.
There are plenty of testimonies out there from people that have had the experience of having problems on their trip that had travel insurance and plenty of sad stories of people that did not.
Here is some site where you can compare plans:
While it is not a requirement to travel it is really a necessity if you are traveling abroad. Life has a way of throwing little problems at you, travel insurance makes sure that your entire holiday is not ruined because of the little problems you may come across.
It literally works out to such a small investment with such a huge payoff if you need it, it is always better to be safe than sorry!