When we think of travel insurance, we rarely imagine sunny people sipping mojitos on a beach resort somewhere beautiful.
Instead, we see images of scenes of the street accident where some deranged person decided to ram into pedestrians.
Or see panicked survivors running for cover following a shooter attack at their hotel.
How will these innocent souls whose vacations were cut short get back on their feet? How do they deal with the trauma? Are there people helping them handle their travel arrangements back to their home countries?
These may be extreme cases, but they do happen. And less horrific but unfortunate events happen in foreign lands all the time. Having travel insurance can help offset some of the burden arising from such incidents.
What does Travel Insurance Cover?
Travel insurance safeguards the financial investment you put into your trip in the event of a calamity or unexpected outcome. But that’s not all. Your travel insurance agent can prove useful during times of distress in a foreign location. They will often coordinate evacuation plans and related services, and are useful in passing along important information.
The exact situations covered in a travel insurance vary from one insurance cover to the next, depending on a number of things. The first is that no two trips are entirely the same. Two people going to the same destination may pay very different travel insurance rates and get different benefits.
The insurance company also looks at things like your age and the cost of the trip when calculating insurance cost.
How do you choose a travel insurance plan?
You can use various parameters to decide which travel plan is best suited for you. Here are some of them:
Annual coverage versus trip-specific coverage
Annual travel insurance covers all the trips you make in a year. Some insurance companies may have a cap on the number of trips covered under the plan, so always make sure you understand what exactly is covered in an annual plan.
This plan is suitable for families that travel together, as the discounted rate brings the cost down. They are also ideal for individuals who travel a lot and for whom buying coverage for each separate trip would be expensive.
Trip-specific insurance is limited to one trip. If you make another trip in future, you’ll need to buy another travel insurance cover. Trip-specific insurance plans are ideal for individuals who travel occasionally. Say, you only travel once a year for holiday or other business, this plan would be sufficient for you.
How much travel insurance should you buy?
The amount of travel insurance you choose should be able to cater to things like emergency medical situations and risk level associated with your trip. Typically, the further away you travel, the higher your travel insurance should be. Think of the worst case medical emergency scenario and decide what insurance limit would cater to your medical attention in that situation. That’s the amount to choose.
Likewise, if you’re traveling for leisure and high-risk adventure, you’ll need a higher insurance limit to cater for any eventuality in a worst-case scenario.
Benefits of Travel Insurance
It’s up to you as a traveler to do your due diligence and determine what type of losses you would suffer in the event of an unexpected misfortune. The airline may or may not be obligated to compensate you, even when they’re responsible for some of the failings, for example, a flight cancellation or delay.
Having a travel insurance plan can help offset such losses. Here are some of the benefits travel insurance offers:
- Trip cancellation benefits
If you cancel your trip, your travel insurance can reimburse your prepaid and nonrefundable expenses. The catch is: You have to ensure that the reason for the cancellation is covered by the plan.
- Travel delay & Missed connection flight
If you miss your flight for a covered reason, the insurance company will reimburse your prepaid expenses and any additional expenses resulting from the delay. Things like accommodation, meals and transportation can be compensated up to the indicated limit. This applies to both delayed flights and missed connections.
- Trip interruption
If your trip is cut short, your travel insurance can cater to your prepaid expenses, accommodation and transportation expenses resulting from the interruption. This includes compensation for your transport back home. Like with trip cancellation, the reason for the trip interruption has to be covered in the insurance plan for the compensation to be awarded.
- Flight change fees
Should you need to change your travel dates, your travel insurance can take care of the fees your airline charges for the date change. The reason for changing your traveling dates has to be covered for you to get the compensation.
- Travel insurance can compensate the charges you pay to re-deposit points for the rewards program after you’ve cancelled the trip.
- If your tour change makes an itinerary change that results in cancellation of a booked event or activity during your trip, your travel insurance can compensate your prepaid expenses.
- With travel insurance, you may be eligible for 24/7 hotline assistance and concierge services. Check whether the plan you’re choosing offers this.
- Compensation for lost/damaged luggage, delayed luggage, and luggage insurance.
The lost option includes compensation for lost bags and the personal items in them. Always check the exact luggage benefits offered under each option, as they are different for every plan.
- Rental car insurance
Your travel insurance may cover the insurance for your rental car. This is a far cheaper option than purchasing insurance for the car when you rent it.
- Emergency medical benefits
Some travel insurance plans offer emergency medical and dental benefits. Specific benefits you may be eligible for under your plan include primary and/or secondary insurance coverage, emergency medical transportation, and pre-existing medical conditions.
There is a peace of mind that comes with knowing that should the worst happen to you during a trip to a distant land, your travel insurance would take care of things. Weigh the things you can afford to lose against those you can’t afford to lose. Then find a travel insurance plan that safeguards the latter or both.