How to Buy Travel Insurance

Lifebelt, Dunheger Travel Blog


More dull and daunting than fun and frivolous, purchasing travel insurance tends to slip many vacationers’ minds. But this critical piece of travel planning could save you in a pinch, whether it’s something as basic bad weather or something as dire as a death in the family.

The options for travel insurance vary wildly and depend heavily on where you’re going, how long you’re traveling, and what you’ll be doing. Travelers’ ages will also play a factor in your insurance costs. This should therefore be the final piece of your vacation puzzle. For most policies, you should budget about 5% the total cost of your trip. As an example, the average weeklong cruise costs $1500 a passenger, so lucky Caribbean-bound travelers should set aside an extra $75 for insurance. At about $10 a day, for a wealth of emergency coverage, you’re sure to consider it money well spent.

You can often purchase insurance through a travel agent, cruise representative, or other tour operator, but these travel sales professionals get a commission on their insurance packages and so have an incentive to push the most expensive package, rather than the best one for you. You will in all likelihood be able to cover your costs and meet your needs more effectively on your own. You may even already be covered for travel in your current homeowners, health, or other insurance policy, so check in with your regular insurance provider before you start shopping, and definitely think twice before handing over your hard-earned cash to an eager sales rep.

If you do need additional travel insurance, look for comprehensive packages that will cover injury, illness, theft, loss, damages, trip cancellation, and emergency evacuation. And, of course, the higher the coverage limit, the better. A limit of $100,000 or higher for healthcare, plus a limit of $300,000 or higher for evacuation – i.e. transportation to the hospital or even back home if your injury is serious enough – is preferable. You should also make sure you’ll have 24-hour support – no one wants to be caught in a pickle during a call center’s off-hours!

If you’re the adventurous sort, read the fine print of each policy carefully to determine whether your particular brand of adrenaline rush – be it abseiling, paragliding, bungee jumping, or all of the above – is covered. Many basic insurance policies do not include extreme sports, so you may need to dig deeper for a special plan.

While you certainly want the most comprehensive policy possible, keep in mind that no insurance policy will cover everything. Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by travel insurance and you’ll also be held responsible for damaging other people’s property and for incidents involving alcohol, drugs, or other reckless behavior.

The online broker is easy to use and very comprehensive with over 20 carriers represented. You can cross reference dozens of plans in the blink of an eye. World Nomads is also a wildly popular provider, particularly with long term travelers.

Naturally you’re best off leaving your valuables at home, but if you absolutely need to bring pricey personal property on the road, you may also want to look into personal article insurance with your current insurance provider.