Posted by: marymarthatours | January 10, 2011

Travel Insurance 101

Without a doubt, the number one question that Martha and I get asked by people considering one of our tours is, “What about travel insurance”?

 

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When we ask these inquirers what they really want to know, the questions get expanded to:

  • Do I need travel insurance?
  • What kind of coverage should I get?
  • From which company should I buy my insurance?

We generally recommend that our travelers purchase travel insurance. In this day of travel uncertainties, it’s a good idea to know that you are protected. The key to deciding on what sort of travel insurance package to buy is to make a list of what items of coverage are most important to you. These might include: repayment if you trip is cancelled or interrupted; luggage loss; overseas health care/emergency transportation home; or transportation home if a family member at home has a health emergency.

The most important thing to determine early is whether you or a relative who stays home might have a pre-existing medical condition that could impact your travel plans either before you leave for your trip or while you are traveling. In this case, you will want coverage that will pay you back if you need to cancel in advance of the tour or if you need to return home in mid-tour due to a medical emergency related to that pre-existing condition. Most travel insurance companies offer coverage for pre-existing conditions if you purchase your travel insurance during the 14-21 days (depending on the insurance provider) after you make your first payment toward your trip. During this early sign-up period, travel insurance providers will cover expenses related to the pre-existing condition. If you think that pre-existing health conditions may apply to you, we recommend that you talk with travel insurance providers directly to find out their policies. (Note that high blood pressure and diabetes that are under control with regular medication do not usually count as “pre-existing” conditions.)

If you or the relatives at home have no pre-existing condition that could lead to a health emergency before or while traveling, you may want to wait to purchase your insurance until you have made your final trip payment and are sure that you are going. Travel insurance premiums are not generally reimbursable should you choose not to go on your trip. Once again, it is important to know what you want to cover before choosing a travel insurance package.

On our October trip to England, Martha and I wanted to cover trip cancellation, interruption, and missed connections; on-trip health emergencies; and luggage loss or delay. Normally, this would have meant that we could purchase our insurance anytime before we traveled. But since I was dealing with a back problem when we booked our flights in June, we wanted to be covered for our out-of-pocket costs if I wasn’t able to travel in October. So each of us purchased our travel insurance during the grace period after we had booked and paid for our plane tickets. If I had not been able to go, I would have gotten my prepaid trip expenditures back. And Martha, as my traveling companion, would have gotten her money back as well.

Comparing travel insurance company plans, options, and costs before choosing which company to buy from can be the tricky part. There are so many companies and plans. Fortunately, the Internet provides a wonderful tool at www.travelinsurancereview.net. This site, in addition to providing a very complete “Travel Insurance 101” tutorial, includes reviews and ratings of the most popular travel insurance companies, and a tool for comparing plans that meet your requirements from different companies.

With this website as a guide, your travel insurance questions can be resolved in three steps:

  1. Decide on the coverage that best meets your needs
  2. Compare companies to find the best plan and cost for you
  3. Choose a company and enroll on-line with a credit card

The cost of your travel insurance is determined by the plan you choose, the cost of your tour/trip, and your age. You should also be aware that travel insurance plans and costs may differ from state to state, as each state regulates the insurance sold within its borders. If you have specific questions, do not hesitate to contact the travel insurance company directly by phone or e-mail.

I hope this short explanation of Travel Insurance helps with some of your questions.

(by Mary)

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