Travel Insurance vs. Travel Protection
Know the difference between travel insurance and travel protection before you book your next trip.
Before Stefan Mitrovic booked his holiday flight from San Francisco to Miami, he asked: Do I need travel insurance?
And that’s when he remembered his luggage.
“I take precious Christmas presents with me,” said Mitrovic, who runs an online consultancy in Los Angeles. “I was afraid they would get lost during the flight.”
This holiday season will be unlike any other, said Harding Bush, security operations manager for Global Rescue, a provider of travel risk management services.
“More people are traveling,” he said. “Airlines have staffing issues. And it’s a challenge for them to manage the influx.”
In other words, your vacation trips are more likely to be canceled or delayed than last year – and perhaps never before.
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Do you need travel insurance for your vacation? Now is the time to find out. Travelers usually buy insurance to protect their expensive international trips. But since the pandemic, they are buying more policies than ever. Are vacation trips riskier this year? And what kind of insurance should you buy?
Mitrovic just wanted to cover his luggage. The US government limits your airline’s liability for delayed baggage to $3,800 for domestic flights. But the claims process is difficult, and airlines exclude many items from coverage. He found a policy through Travelinsurance.com that covered his checked baggage for up to 75% of its current market value.
Experts say Mitrovic got it right. He weighed the risks of vacation travel and then bought a policy that covered it.
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“When it comes to travel insurance, there is no one-size-fits-all policy,” said Daniel Durazo, spokesman for Allianz Partners USA. “It all depends on your specific needs and concerns about where you are traveling and what financial investments you want to protect.”
These concerns can range from minor inconveniences, like a delayed suitcase, to major issues, like a last-minute trip cancellation or medical emergency.
Do you need travel insurance for your vacation?
The conventional wisdom is that a travel insurance policy is not necessary for quick domestic trips – the type most often taken while on vacation. This is because the insurance only covers prepaid, non-refundable travel items. So driving to your aunt’s house for a weekend vacation is probably not insurable.
But for other trips, you may need a policy. Usually, people consider getting insurance when spending more than $2,000 on their trip. But the insurance can also cover unforeseen expenses, such as a flight cancellation.
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“The cost of last-minute flights can be 10 times more than the initial purchase,” said Manny Fernandez, vice president of global operations at CAP Travel Assistance. “It’s important to have peace of mind in the event of a trip interruption or cancellation, as trips are being canceled more frequently.”
Dan Skilken, president of TripInsurance.com, said if the holiday season is a repeat of this summer, insured travelers will have an advantage. Consider weather delays. Airlines have no obligation to assist travellers. “There’s no reason to spend the night at the airport, since the cost of your delay is covered,” he said.
Weighing the Risks of Vacation Travel
Holiday travel is also more dangerous than it has been in recent years, experts say. Geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe, Israel and Asia are making travel to those regions more risky, said John Gobbels, chief operating officer of air medical transport and travel security company Medjet.
But also consider what you will be doing at that destination. A beach vacation in Mexico might be less risky than heliskiing in Canada.
“When choosing your travel insurance, you should consider several factors such as whether you are traveling domestically or internationally, the cost of your trip, whether you participate in an adventure sport and whether you bring your own equipment. “said Christina Tunnah, Managing Director for the Americas at World Nomads.
Travel insurance companies now allow you to customize your policies. Sites like InsureMyTrip.com and battleface.com allow you to add or remove covers until you have the exact font you need. For more details on the best policy, check out my free guide to buying the best travel insurance.
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What should you look for when choosing insurance for your vacation trip?
During the holidays, the two big areas of coverage for travelers are medical care and trip cancellation, said Pallavi Sadekar, operations manager at VisitorGuard.com.
“Medical insurance, especially HMO plans, may not cover you for medical emergencies while traveling outside the country,” she said. “Travel insurance can protect you if you get sick or injured.”
She said trip cancellation plans can reimburse you for prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses when you need to cancel for a covered reason. This way you get your money back and you can book your vacation for another day.
This is what Harry Wenkert is looking for when buying a travel insurance policy for his vacation trip. “The coverage we’re most interested in is for medical services, medical evacuation and trip cancellation,” said Wenkert, a retired pharmaceutical marketer from Pittsburgh. He’s heading to the Canadian Rockies later this year and he already has his policy picked.
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What type of travel insurance should you purchase for your vacation trip?
A regular travel insurance policy will cover you for the duration of your trip. If you think you need to cancel, you can also consider a “cancel for any reason” policy, which allows you to cancel your trip for any reason and get 50%-75% of your prepaid expenses back. and non-refundable.
But for Mark Beales, a retired mortgage banker from Mill Creek, Wash., the uncertainty of the past two years led to a New Year’s resolution to get travel insurance.
A friend was visiting her family in Canada for the holidays. She did not take out travel insurance. “She fell and ended up in the hospital and then in a rehab centre,” he recalls. Then she had to pay for medical transportation to the United States.
“The cost was ridiculously high and not covered by Medicare since it happened in Canada,” Beales recalls. “So our friends paid for those costs out of pocket.”
He resolved never to be without travel insurance. So instead of buying a policy for each trip, he decided to purchase an annual travel insurance policy.
You may not need travel insurance for your next trip. But for this upcoming holiday travel season, you should probably think about it.
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Avoid these travel insurance mistakes
Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, said travel insurance can be a smart purchase for your next trip, but many travelers make mistakes when purchasing their coverage. “It’s still a foreign concept to many,” he said. “The most valuable advice I can give travelers is to do a little research and avoid making assumptions about who and what is covered.”
► Do not wait to take out insurance: “It’s a good idea to get suitable travel insurance well in advance of your trip,” said Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage, an insurance marketplace. For example, for some policies, you must purchase travel insurance within 14 days of submitting your initial travel deposit to obtain coverage for a pre-existing medical condition.
► Don’t forget to read your policy: Many travelers are unaware of the common travel scenarios in which they are entitled to reimbursements if they have travel insurance. “This includes flight delays and lost baggage,” said Faye Travel Insurance spokeswoman Lauren Gumport. “Be sure to read your policy and if you’re unclear, call your travel insurance provider before travel to find out.”
Read it to the end. Lauren Gumport, spokeswoman for Faye Travel Insurance, said her company had seen many customers who did not understand their policy. “I’ve noticed that many travelers are unaware of common travel scenarios where they are entitled to refunds if they have travel insurance,” she said.
► Do not buy the cheapest insurance: It can be tempting to skip travel insurance or buy the cheapest policy for your vacation trip. “But doing so puts you at risk of not having the right travel insurance when you need it,” warns Angela Borden, product marketing strategist at Seven Corners. “During holidays, when the risk of flight cancellations, lost luggage and other unforeseen events increases, protecting the money you’ve spent on your trip becomes even more important.”
Christopher Elliott is an author, consumer advocate and journalist. He founded Elliott Advocacy, a non-profit organization that helps solve consumer problems. It publishes Elliott Confidential, a travel newsletter, and Elliott Report, a customer service information site. If you need help with a substance abuse issue, you can reach him here or email him at [email protected]