11 Travel Insurance Tips for Your Family Vacation
These pointers can help you find the best policy to protect your vacation investment in case the unexpected occurs
Travel insurance is more important than ever – whether you’re planning an international trip, renting a beachfront vacation home or taking a cruise. The travel landscape is constantly shifting in today’s environment and the financial risks involved in traveling can be considerable. Trip insurance can protect the investment you make in your family’s vacation, providing valuable peace of mind as situations change.
Trip insurance can reimburse vacationers for covered losses including unexpected illnesses, cancellations, flight delays, lost baggage, emergency evacuations, travel interruptions, and medical expenses due to accidents or injuries. Some international destinations also require proof of travel insurance for entry. It’s crucial to understand travel insurance policy coverages and exclusions, particularly concerning pandemic-related issues.
Here are 11 essential tips for purchasing travel insurance for your next family vacation:
Verify Your Existing Coverage
Review your existing policies before purchasing travel insurance to see what kinds of coverage you already have. Check your personal and family health insurance, car insurance, club memberships and credit card programs to see what types of travel insurance coverage are provided. Look for potential gaps in policies, particularly concerning who and what is covered under your existing insurance plans. If you’re traveling internationally, determine whether your policies will cover medical expenses and other issues occurring outside of the United States.
Determine What Type of Coverage You Need
Family vacations aren’t all the same – and neither are types of travel insurance. Travel insurance can be expensive, often costing 5% to 10% of the total trip price. If you’re planning a low-cost domestic road trip to visit friends, travel insurance may not be worth the price. An annual travel insurance policy may make sense for families taking lots of short domestic trips each year. Alternatively, international vacations with substantial prepaid, non-refundable expenses and potential medical liabilities might require a more comprehensive insurance policy. A good travel insurance agent or travel advisor can help you decide what kind of travel insurance policy is right for you.
Buy Travel Insurance Promptly For Added Benefits
Purchasing travel insurance for your family vacation within 10-15 days of making your first trip payment can offer added coverage for pre-existing conditions and other issues. Timely purchasing can also provide full cancellation benefits in case something comes up after your first payment has been made. Carefully understanding the potential benefits offered by your travel insurance policy is vital. If you’re considering coverage, such as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) insurance, it’s also essential to purchase your policy soon after booking.
Strongly Consider Cancel for Any Reason Insurance
Travel insurance generally does not cover trip cancellations due to uncertainties about coronavirus outbreaks, border closures, fear of travel, demonstrations or civil strife, unfavorable weather forecasts, or concerns that cruise or tour itineraries might change. These issues typically would only be covered by Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) policies. Cancel for Any Reason policies provide varying amounts of money back, generally up to as much as 50-75% of your trip cost, if you decide to change your plans at least 2-3 days before departure.
Cancel for Any Reason policies are significantly more expensive, but they can sometimes be worth the cost. Here again, the timing of your insurance purchase is important. Purchase deadlines vary, but CFAR insurance riders often must be purchased within 14-21 days of your first travel booking. These riders typically cannot be added to an existing trip insurance policy at a later date. In addition, all non-refundable prepaid trip expenses must be fully insured under these policies. Check with travel insurance companies to understand the rules and potential benefits associated with Cancel for Any Reason insurance.
Shop Around For Insurance Policies
Travel insurance plans and costs vary significantly, so it’s essential to research different options and carefully compare them with your specific needs. Look at leading travel insurer websites such as Travel Guard, Allianz and others. Trip insurance plans from a wide variety of companies can also be compared and purchased on sites such as InsureMyTrip.com, TravelInsurance.com and SquareMouth.com. A good travel advisor can help as well.
Clearly Understand What Each Plan Covers
When purchasing travel insurance, it’s crucial to understand exactly what is covered. Travel insurance policies can be confusing, so don’t assume anything. Review the entire policy carefully, always read the fine print and talk with a travel insurance agent before purchasing. These steps are essential in the era of COVID-19 since some travel insurance policies do not cover many potential losses related to the pandemic.
If you have questions about what is covered under the policies you are considering, call the travel insurance issuer directly and review the policy coverages and exclusions with them before purchasing. This is critical for COVID-19 concerns since some policies stipulate that any issues resulting from epidemic and pandemic-related illnesses are not covered. InsureMyTrip.com and SquareMouth.com provide recommendation tools and information that make it easier to find and evaluate insurance plans that offer protection for pandemic-related concerns.
Find Out If Certain Vacation Activities Are Excluded
Family vacationers often enjoy adventurous excursions on their trips, such as glacier hikes in Alaska, parasailing at the beach, scuba diving in the Caribbean and whitewater rafting near Yellowstone National Park. Travel insurance companies may categorize these activities as “extreme sports.” In that case, any injuries occurring while taking part in these “extreme sports” activities might not be covered in these cases. SquareMouth.com provides a convenient form to help travel insurance shoppers identify insurance plans that offer coverage for sports and adventure activities.
Check International Destination Requirements for Travel Insurance
Some foreign countries now have mandatory travel insurance requirements for entry. This has become more common due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Arriving travelers must show that they have travel medical insurance that covers specific COVID-19 costs related to hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, and air ambulance transportation if needed. Sometimes a set amount of insurance must be purchased directly from the country’s government prior to entry. Other countries allow travelers to buy their insurance independently as long as they can show proof of a policy with the required dollar amount of coverage.
Make Sure Your Entire Trip Is Protected
Families may purchase travel insurance independently or as part of a vacation or cruise package. It’s crucial to ensure that your vacation is fully protected from the time of departure through the date you return home – not just when you arrive at your destination. If you’re buying travel insurance as part of a land vacation or cruise package, make sure that the policy covers all flights, car rentals and transportation to/from your home as well. If your travel advisor is handling all of your arrangements, your agent should be able to wrap the entire purchase into your insurance policy. If you are purchasing your airline tickets on your own, you may need to buy your travel insurance independently so that it will cover your flights.
Purchase Travel Insurance Before Hazardous Weather Develops
When hurricanes and other storm warnings appear, travelers often start thinking about canceling their vacation plans and begin inquiring about travel insurance. Travel insurance only protects against “unforeseen” circumstances, however. Once a hurricane or severe storm develops, it is no longer unforeseen – and new travel insurance offering hurricane protection coverage will not protect against it.
Vacationers already holding travel insurance policies may be covered if hazardous weather develops. However, it’s important to note that not all travel insurance policies cover hurricanes, tropical storms, snowstorms and other weather issues. Some policies will only cover hurricane-related claims that occur 14 days after travel insurance is purchased. Other policies have precise language defining when hurricane coverage is applicable as well. Research several travel insurance policies and read the fine print carefully to see what will be covered if a hurricane or severe weather situation develops.
Update Your Policy If Your Vacation Plans Change
Once you’ve purchased your policy, it’s critical to alert your travel insurance provider if your travel plans change. Your insurance plan will need to be modified if you alter your travel dates, the price of your trip, the age and number of people traveling with you, your state of residence and other aspects of your vacation. Some insurance companies have mobile apps that make it easier to manage your travel plans, claims and any issues that may arise. Get in touch with your travel insurance provider or your travel advisor for more details.
By Nancy Schretter, Contributing Editor