Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a type of policy that covers losses and expenses associated with traveling. It's an excellent way to protect those who travel domestically or abroad if an injury or illness occurs, their travel plans get canceled, or an unforeseen emergency develops. Travel insurance coverage can vary depending on the plan you purchase, so it's important to complete a travel insurance comparison before you buy to guarantee you're getting the best travel insurance rates.

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 19, 2021

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  • Travel insurance can protect travelers by reimbursing them for unused, prepaid expenses if covered circumstances force them to cancel or interrupt their trip
  • Travel insurance costs a percentage of a traveler’s total trip and is influenced by several factors, including age, trip costs, coverage levels, and the number of people named on the policy
  • Buy travel insurance if you are concerned your trip could be canceled or if an illness may interrupt your trip

Preparing for a big trip is not an easy task. In truth, it often takes a lot of packing and unpacking, numerous lists, and important questions that involve a lot of “will I need those?” However, there is one thing that should be a no-brainer when it comes to traveling, and that is travel insurance.

Do you really need travel insurance?

With all the uncertainty that comes with traveling, travel insurance can provide peace of mind and protection against unforeseen circumstances, from bad weather to pandemics. Keep reading for more free insurance advice regarding why you need travel insurance, the different types of travel insurance policies available, and where to find affordable travel insurance rates.

If you’re looking for travel insurance for your next trip and want to verify that you’re choosing the right policy, use our free comparison tool above. Enter your ZIP code now to find an affordable travel insurance company near you.

What is travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a plan you purchase to protect you from unforeseen losses and certain financial risks that can occur while traveling, either domestically or internationally. These losses can be minor, such as delayed luggage, or more substantial, such as last-minute trip cancellation.

What does travel insurance cover? That depends on the kind of travel insurance policy you choose. Not all travel insurance is the same, so it’s important to consider the following:

  • Travel insurance benefits will differ by plan, so it is vital to choose one that fits your budget, travel plans, and needs.
  • Unfortunately, travel insurance cannot cover every possible situation. That is why it is important to check the insurance policy and determine what specific situations, events, and losses are included.
  • Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseeable events and not things that you see coming. For instance, if you purchase insurance for a trip after a warning has been announced that a hurricane is threatening to strike the location where you are going, your losses may not be covered if something happens.

Generally, travel insurance will reimburse you for your covered financial losses after you file a claim with the insurance company and the claim is approved. However, it is not enough to just send in paperwork when you are filing a claim. You will also need to submit proof of your loss so that the company can verify what happened and reimburse you for any covered losses.

How does this work in real life? Let’s say you are heading on an island cruise. A day before you leave, you start to experience intense chest pain, shortness of breath, and dizzy spells, so your family rushes you to the Emergency Room. Once there, the doctor advises you to cancel the trip so that they can monitor you further and ensure that the condition is adequately handled. However, when you notify the cruise line, they let you know that it is too late to receive a refund.

If you did not purchase travel insurance, you would not be reimbursed for the money you lost on the canceled vacation.

Why would I need trip or travel insurance? Buying the right travel insurance policy means you’re covered if you experience a serious or otherwise disabling illness or injury before your trip. You will be reimbursed for your non-refundable and prepaid trip costs once you file a travel insurance claim and submit the required documents, which often include your airfare and cruise receipts and details about any refunds you did and did not receive.

Bear in mind that while the standard process is usually to file a claim, it is always best to check with your travel insurance company to verify precisely how they will cover losses and what you need to do to get reimbursed for them.

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Top Five Reasons to Buy Travel Insurance

No matter how much you prepare for a trip, the unexpected can always happen, and your whole trip can be impacted. That’s why 30% of all travelers today buy travel insurance.

However, even with all these uncertainties, many travelers still question whether they need to purchase travel insurance. To clear up this confusion, here are the top five reasons why you should buy travel insurance:

1. You’re Worried About Trip Cancellation

The most common reason people purchase travel insurance is the worry that they may have to cancel an upcoming trip. It’s impossible to know what will happen between arranging a trip and departing for it, but if you believe you are spending more on your vacation than you can afford to lose, you should consider purchasing travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage.

2. You’re Worried About Getting Sick or Injured Before or During the Trip

Getting injured or sick before a trip is one of the most dreaded scenarios. That is why many travelers look into insurance coverage that covers this type of scenario and can reimburse them for their prepaid, non-refundable trip costs.

On the other hand, if you get sick while on the trip, there is also coverage you can purchase to cover medical expenses, including an ambulance ride. This is incredibly important, as many health insurance plans do not cover international travel.

Finally, if you get injured on your trip and need to cut it short, you can often purchase trip interruption coverage that can reimburse you for the portion of the trip you missed and can even help you return home

3. You’re Worried About Natural Disasters

Weather is something that you have absolutely no control over, and it can lead to significant travel delays or even cause you to cancel your trip altogether. Mother Nature is not always kind, and when massive snowstorms or deadly hurricanes derail your plans, travel insurance can cover you in the event of adverse weather or a natural disaster.

4. You’re Worried About Travel Delays

Unfortunately, delays and cancelations happen all the time whether due to weather, travel accidents, natural disasters, or other unexpected circumstances. The bottom line is your trip can be interrupted.

However, with the right travel insurance plan, you can be covered in these situations, allowing you to focus on taking care of your needs during this stressful time instead of worrying about the costs you will lose out on.

5. You’re Worried About Losing Your Bags or Getting Your Property Stolen

One of the worst scenarios a traveler can experience is an airline losing their baggage. Sadly, these fears are not unjustified. In fact, in a one-year period, more than 2.9 million bags were damaged, lost, stolen, or delayed at major airlines.

Thankfully, with travel insurance, travelers do not need to stress about this issue. Many insurers offer plans that allow travelers to get reimbursed for stolen, lost, or damaged baggage or personal items, enabling them to purchase any necessary items while waiting for the airline to find their bag.

What are the different types of travel insurance coverage?

Travel insurance is often sold as a package and includes several types of coverage. However, the main categories of travel insurance tend to include trip cancellation coverage, baggage, and personal effects coverage, accidental death or flight accident coverage, and medical expenses coverage.

Trip Cancellation Insurance

Typically, this type of insurance is known as trip interruption insurance or trip delay insurance, and it reimburses an individual for any prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses. Before choosing this specific coverage, you need to look into the insurer’s policies. Many insurance companies will differ on the acceptable cancellation and interruption causes and the amount of reimbursement available to the traveler.

The most common coverages eligible for trip cancellation benefits include illness, sudden business conflicts, weather-related issues, and a death in the immediate family.

Most travelers buy trip cancellation insurance when they are paying more upfront than what they are comfortable losing. For instance, if you purchase a $4,000 tour package and the tour’s cancellation policy stipulates that everything but $1,000 is refundable upon cancellation, the travel insurance will cover only the non-refundable $1,000.

Travel tip: Keep in mind that this trip interruption coverage can be nullified if you decide to travel to an area that has been known to be affected by a severe weather event such as an earthquake or a hurricane.

Personal Effects Coverage

This type of coverage will often protect stolen, lost, or damaged belongings during a trip. It may also include coverage during travel to and from a destination.

Although many airlines reimburse travelers if their bags are destroyed or lost because of their errors, there may be limitations on the amount that will get refunded. That is why personal effects and bag coverage insurance is so significant, as it can provide an additional layer of protection.

Medical Coverage

Typically, the two primary types of travel medical insurance coverages are short-term medical and major medical coverage:

  • Short Term Policies: These policies tend to cover a traveler from five days to one year, depending on which policy they choose.
  • Major Medical Coverage: This policy is for travelers who are planning to take longer trips ranging from six months to one year or longer. It helps with medical expenses, including helping the traveler locate medical facilities, doctors, and foreign-language services. Some insurance policies may even include airlift travel to a medical facility, extended hospital stays, and medical evacuation health travel coverage.

Medical travel insurance compares to health insurance in the kind of coverage it can provide, but having medical travel insurance internationally is especially vital as the government does not insure citizens or pay for medical expenses incurred abroad and most health insurance companies require prior approval before covering any costs that occur internationally.

If you’re worried about the coronavirus and finding travel insurance that covers COVID-19, most travel insurance plans now include epidemic-related coverage and cover certain losses related to COVID-19 and any future epidemics. However, it is always important to check with the insurer as there are terms, conditions, and exclusions that may apply to these and other travel insurance and COVID-19 situations.

Travel tip: Before purchasing just any travel insurance policy, you need to read the policy provisions to see what exclusions apply. For example, some policy coverage may not cover any pre-existing medical conditions. That is why it is best not to assume that new coverage will mirror an existing plan and instead verify what it does and does not cover.

Accidental Death Coverage

If a travel accident results in serious injury, disability, or death to the traveler or any family members accompanying them on the trip, an accidental death and flight accident policy can pay benefits to the surviving beneficiaries.

In addition, flight accident insurance provides coverage for accidents and deaths that result during flights on a licensed commercial airliner. It’s important to note that general exclusions will apply to this policy, such as death resulting from a sickness or caused by a drug overdose.

In many instances, if you already have a life insurance policy, accidental death coverage may not necessarily be required. However, the benefits that are paid by the travel insurance coverage will be in addition to those paid by your life insurance policy, which can mean more money for your beneficiaries.

Travel tip: Before heading out on a vacation or a business trip, it’s important to check your life insurance policy to verify what it covers. If you are concerned that it may not leave your family with enough benefits, speak to a travel insurance company about accidental death coverage to ensure that your family is covered if anything were to happen.

How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance Policy

Most travel insurers offer a wide range of travel insurance plans that differ based on the limits that apply and the benefits you can get. Many people often worry that they are not choosing the right plan for their vacation or trip. That’s why we created this helpful guide to choosing the right travel insurance policy.

Follow the steps below to pick the right travel insurance plan for your trip.

#1 Don’t Wait: Start Shopping for Travel Insurance Now

The best way to get the most out of your travel insurance is not to wait too long to get coverage. The earlier you buy travel insurance, the bigger your coverage window is and the cheaper your travel insurance rates will be. Plus, many plans require you to purchase a plan within two weeks of making your initial trip deposit if you want to be eligible for many pre-existing medical condition benefits.

The best time to purchase your travel insurance is immediately after you’ve completed your travel arrangements.

#2 Get Travel Insurance Quotes

Comparing travel insurance quotes online is the easiest way to see plans side-by-side and pick out the coverage you need at the right price. Travel insurance quotes are impacted by your age, health, trip costs, destination, and trip dates. Each insurance company will recommend a few plans that may suit your needs and provide you with the plan costs so you can compare the prices and benefits of each plan.

Insurance providers have different criteria for assessing risk, so it’s important to compare travel insurance rates from more than one company to see which offers the best deal.

#3 Consider Your Options

Once you have your travel insurance quotes, take a look at your policy options and complete a travel insurance comparison. Most insurance companies will offer basic plans for the budget-conscious traveler who is traveling within the United States. These plans will often include benefits regarding trip cancellation, interruption, or delays.

In comparison, other plans may have protection in case of a medical emergency overseas and will cover emergency medical expenses and emergency transportation costs, as well as other post-departure benefits. These types of plans may not cover trip interruption or cancelation, so if you want the reassurance of carrying all the substantial travel insurance benefits, there are plans that will cover all of the things mentioned, as well as your children and other family members.

If you are planning on taking several trips, there is annual travel insurance that can give you affordable protection for a full year of travel.

That is why before you choose just any travel insurance plan, you must go over all of your options and the costs involved to figure out which type of policy is right for you.

#4 Read All Your Travel Insurance Documents

Once you buy travel insurance, you want to make sure you read all of your coverage plan documents before you leave. If you are not completely satisfied with the plan you purchased, you may have a specific amount of time to cancel a travel insurance policy.

In most instances, premiums may not be refundable after a certain period, and once you head out on vacation, it will be impossible to change your policy.

If you need to make changes or cancel your policy, contact the insurance company. Likewise, if you are traveling and facing an emergency, most of these insurance companies will also have an emergency assistance hotline you can reach out to for immediate help.

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Travel Insurance: The Bottom Line

Unfortunately, now more than ever, travelers must consider travel insurance before heading out on their next trip or adventure. Protect the security of your trip when unforeseen issues arise such as lost baggage, a trip cancellation, a medical emergency, or even a pandemic.

If you’re looking to find the best travel insurance company near you, enter your ZIP code below and get free travel insurance quotes from local providers.

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