Travel is fun for sure but comes with it – uncertainties.
If you’ve ever traveled abroad, you know the anxiety. Lost baggage, the unwelcome flu, the missed flight… the factors are many.
Thanks to travel insurance, most of these worries can be put to rest, pretty much. Welcome to the world of travel insurance.
In this article, I’ll guide you through everything travel insurance. What is it, why you need to get one, whether it is a good idea or not, where can you buy it from, etc. Let’s dive in.
Do I need travel insurance?
This is probably the most repeated question. Do you really need Travel insurance or not.
Well, to answer it, you need to understand what travel insurance really is.
So, what really is Travel insurance?
According to the Wikipedia…
Let’s break that down.
If you fall sick during your travel, would travel insurance cover your medical expenses?
Technically, yes. But it depends on which travel insurance policy you’ve bought for yourself. Most travel insurance policies cover only a listed number of sicknesses, and you will be covered if you get sick with one of the listed illnesses. If not, tough luck.
If you lose your baggage, will travel insurance cover you?
Technically, yes. But not all baggage lost can be claimed with travel insurance. Most policies cover lost baggage, theft or even delayed baggage in some cases.
There are usually limits to what amount can be claimed with baggage loss and it usually is in the tunes of thousands.
If you miss your flight, will travel insurance cover the expense?
Technically, yes. If you’re getting a travel insurance policy that has flight-cancellation or flight-delays covered, they usually pay for the non-refundable part of the trip.
It’s usually not a direct full refund of your ticket price, as many might assume it to be. You gotta read the fine print in your policy details.
If you have a medical emergency and are admitted to the hospital, will travel insurance cover the expenses?
If your travel insurance policy is or includes a travel medical plan, then usually the plan would cover the expenses you incur on being admitted to a hospital on emergency.
However, there are riders and exclusions at the policy level. So, I recommend you check the fine print carefully.
Types of travel insurance
When shopping for travel insurance, you’ll notice that there are many options to choose from. There are two main types of travel insurance packages. One, comprehensive plans and two, limited coverage plans.
- Offers trip cancellation, medical coverage, etc. It generally covers a broader set of uncertainties.
- Is usually costlier.
- Useful for long trips covering more risks.
- It is very specific in what uncertainty it covers. Ex: Medical only.
- Is usually cheaper.
- Useful for short trips.
Other than the two categorizations mentioned above, there are various types of travel insurance, that cover different sets of uncertainties.
Travel insurance that covers lost baggage
This is the type of travel insurance where if you lose your baggage, get it stolen or damaged, the insurance company pays you/reimburses for it.
There are usually limits to how much you can claim and it’s usually close to thousands.
Trip Cancellation Insurance
Trip cancellation insurance protects you when there is a canceled trip or undue delays and reimburses you for the non-refundable part of the trip cost.
The reason for cancellations usually includes unforeseen weather, natural disasters, the policyholder or their dear ones falling sick, unforeseen emergency situations, etc.
Trip cancellation insurance does not cover “everything” though.
For example, if you cancel a trip quoting a medical reason, you’d need to have a documented report and recommendation from an accepted medical practitioner by the insurance provider or else, it wouldn’t be covered.
Travel Insurance covering Medical emergencies
Most comprehensive travel insurance policies cover medical emergencies that may occur during a trip.
If you fall sick and get emergency medical attention or get admitted to a hospital, most comprehensive travel insurance would reimburse the expenses. However, make sure that everything is documented.
You need to read through the fine print in the policy document, as most travel insurance policies have a list of sicknesses/medical emergencies that can be covered.
Anything beyond the list is usually not covered/reimbursed.
How much does travel insurance cost?
Travel insurance to the USA is not cheap and usually comes to three-four digits in premium. Considering the high costs of medical expenses in the USA, it is reasonable though.
But to get a ballpark figure, the following details have to be considered.
a) Your age – Younger folks are less risky and hence lesser premium (not in all cases)
b) Duration of the trip – Longer duration means higher prices.
c) Nature of the trip – Inclusion of risky, adventurous activities means higher cost.
d) Medical conditions you want to be covered – Cover for pre-existing conditions, etc will cost more.
e) Type of policy – Limited or Comprehensive. Comprehensive is costlier.
Based on these factors mentioned above, your desired insurance policy will cost differently.
For example, if you get a policy for someone 70+ years, for six months of visiting the USA, with pre-existing medical conditions covered, it might cost you more than what it might cost for someone aged 30 for the same duration.
How to get travel insurance
Now, let’s look at different ways to get travel insurance and compare the pros and cons of each.
Buy Travel Insurance Online
You can either buy a policy online, from online insurance policy comparison engines or directly from the provider.
Advantages of buying travel insurance online
- Ability to compare different products in one go.
- Ability to get product details easily.
- Customer support to get you through the buying process.
- Single point window for multiple insurance needs.
Disadvantages of buying travel insurance online
- Be careful about whom you’re getting insurance from. Third-party trust issue is a big deal.
Through Credit Cards
Some credit cards also provide insurance policies as an add-on benefit. But these are usually basic coverage policies like trip cancellation and free rental car insurance etc. It depends on your card benefits.
I personally wouldn’t recommend them as they are usually standard and non-customizable. Basically, not very useful.
From Travel Agents
You can also buy travel insurance from travel agents. Usually, they recommend policies once you choose the package. But in my experience, it would be better if you chose your own policy (from online comparison engines).
Which travel insurance is best for USA
Based on my research, here are the best travel insurance plans for USA.
a) Atlas America
b) Patriot America Plus
c) Safe Travels USA Comprehensive
d) Safe Travels for Visitors to the USA
Which are the best travel insurance companies
There are several insurance providers in the USA that provide travel insurance plans for visitors to USA. The best ones are…
a) Seven Corners
b) Allianz Global Assistance.
c) Generali Global Assistance.
e) IMG Global.
f) Trawick International.
g) John Hancock.
Here is a good breakdown of the best insurance companies.
When is the best time to get travel insurance
Travel insurance is best bought before your trip. Say if you’re traveling in December, try to buy the policy in late November. But make sure that your policy starts on the date of your trip. Not sooner or later.
Where to get travel insurance online
There are a few websites/portals that let you compare and buy travel insurance online. Most of them are subsidiaries or partners with top insurance providers.
The benefit we get as users is that we’re able to compare different products and buy insurance products directly from these websites.
Benefits of buying travel insurance online.
- Compare different products on the same platform.
- Flexible dates and rates.
- Customize options in certain cases.
- Better customer support.
I recommend buying travel insurance from Insubuy, they have a good comparison engine that gives you different options.
Tips to buy travel insurance online
Always compare different travel insurance products online and call up each companies customer service to ask them “what might happen if..” and explain them an imaginary scenario.
Make sure you read the terms and conditions properly and in-depth.
There are usually several conditions and riders that may or may not qualify you for claiming insurance. Don’t assume and trust everything the product brochures advertise.
Travel insurance jargon and buzzwords can be sometimes misleading. Make sure you understand them well.