My wife and I have traveled quite a bit over the years. When we went into semi-retirement, our plan was to travel even more. We take lots of domestic trips, mostly to visit family, but we also love Caribbean beaches and old European cities and we try to make a couple of those trips every year. One of the reasons we chose Las Vegas as our home was that McCarran International Airport is super convenient which makes getting in and out of town a breeze.
Until recently, we almost never purchased travel insurance, but now it doesn’t seem like an option. Our recent experience with pandemics, COVID-19 in particular, has put a question mark on all of our future travel plans. We’re still planning trips but we have no idea if we’ll actually be able to go!
What is Travel Insurance?
Traveling abroad for a vacation might seem relaxing at first thought. It sure can be a great way to unwind and explore new cultures. But if you take a moment to consider all the possible mishaps that could occur, it might leave you feeling rather stressed out! Especially today when there are so many things that could disrupt your travel plans.
This is where travel insurance comes in. Travel insurance covers potential losses one may incur while traveling – domestically or abroad. There are many plans offered, each providing coverage for a variety of potential losses or costs.
Many things determine what kind of travel insurance you need. This includes the destination, any health conditions the travelers may have, and many more considerations you need to consider before you choose a plan.
Traveling without insurance is risky. Even if you think you won’t need it or have never filed a claim in your past travels, it’s always better to have the coverage should you need it.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
The answer ultimately depends on what policy you end up purchasing, but there are some pretty universal things that most policies cover. This includes emergency medical expenses and personal liability in case you’re sued for property damage, among other things.
A lot of policies will also cover the loss or theft of your luggage. And you can get coverage for any losses you face (in non-refundable hotel costs or flight fares, for example) if you have to cancel or delay your trip.
Generally, basic policies will not offer coverage for pre-existing medical conditions; this is something you have to request specifically. A pre-existing medical condition counts as anything from allergies to cancer – but this can vary between companies, so always check each insurer’s definition to see if it applies to you.
Travel insurance can also include content insurance, but this is usually poor value for money, so really consider whether it is necessary for you before spending extra money on a policy that includes this.
Always be aware of your travel insurance terms and conditions as certain factors can invalidate your policy and affect your eligibility to make a claim. For example, if your main destination is Greece, but you arrange a day trip over to Turkey, you have crossed over national boundaries. Your policy may not cover you there if anything goes awry.
Why is it Important for Baby Boomers?
Most people love traveling, but this is especially true for Baby Boomers who averaging three to four vacations a year. It is clear that active seniors love to travel and they generally have the time and money to make getting out of town pretty easy.
It’s not fun to think that a disaster may strike when you’re on a trip and travel internationally more often increases the likelihood of you making use of a solid travel insurance policy.
Baby Boomers are also more likely to have chronic health conditions that may still need medical care and attention even when abroad. Specific policies can massively help with medical bills and emergencies, so Boomers are strongly encouraged to consider buying travel insurance before going on vacation.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
Travel insurance costs vary widely depending on how long you’ll be traveling for, destination, age, and the type of coverages you’d like.
As a broad estimate, you can expect your travel insurance package to cost between four to 10 percent of your total prepaid trip cost. For example, if your trip costs $4,000, the travel insurance cost may range from $160 to $400.
As always, aim to find a balance between your budget and your needs as a buyer. Do not fall victim to cheap policies that only give you a false sense of security and no real coverage.
Types of Travel Insurance
There are many types of travel insurance plans which cater to different travelers and their needs. Here are the most popular options.
International travel insurance – for those venturing out into the wide world and going beyond domestic travels. It is essential to have international travel explicitly covered in your policy. Otherwise, it may not apply to your trip, and any claims you make may be invalid.
Annual travel insurance – for avid, frequent travelers. If you go abroad multiple times a year, it may be better to get an annual policy that applies to every trip taken in that year, as it can often be more cost-effective and can save you from purchasing a plan every time you travel. But with a blanket policy, limitations may apply, so again, make sure to be crystal clear on the fine print.
Long-term travel insurance – also known as a backpacker travel insurance, is excellent for Boomers looking to go abroad for a year or longer – perhaps for personal reasons or to fully explore a country or region.
Insurers offering this kind of insurance usually offer coverage for around three to 18 months. And you can extend the policy if you wish to stay traveling for longer, so it does have some flexibility built-in.
Single trip travel insurance – which is suitable for those one-off trips. If you opt for this type, you will need to buy a policy each time every trip you take. If you tend to travel once a year, this option is appropriate, but consider the annual option to see which suits you better if it’s more frequent.
What if You Are Traveling With Others?
Couple’s travel insurance – if you and a partner both reside at the same address, you could be eligible for a couple’s travel insurance. Compare the rates you’re offered as a singleton and as a couple and pick whatever works out cheaper.
Group travel – if a few other people are joining you in your travels, enquire about the rates for group travel. You might be able to get more bang for your buck if you’re buying multiple policies at once.
How Can I File a Claim On My Policy
When you take out travel insurance, the document provided should set out the specific process for filing a claim. The process will vary between companies, so make sure you’re clear on your insurer’s specific process. If you’re unsure where to find this information or think it is missing, contact your insurer and let them know.
Once your claim has been started, you will probably need to provide supporting evidence like receipts or other material. These documents are for your insurer to assess your claim and decide if it is eligible for coverage.
Bear in mind that your insurer may request further information to verify your claim, and this can sometimes become a lengthy process depending on the nature and complexity of the claim. However, it can also be a pretty straightforward process if the claim is simple and clear-cut.
When disaster strikes, it is easy to get consumed by the emotional stress and turmoil but try and stay calm to assess the situation. Approach it practically, keeping note of what happened exactly and any evidence that can support your claim. Contact your insurer straightaway and share all relevant information and evidence.
How to Find the Right Travel Insurance Policy For You
With so many policies out there, choosing a policy can prove challenging and even overwhelming at times. Here are the essential things to consider when choosing travel insurance.
First off, establish the basic details. This includes setting out precisely who is traveling with you and where to. Do you know how long you will be staying? It’s okay if you don’t want to restrict yourself, but make sure your policy allows extensions if needed.
As a little side note, think about how often you travel. You may be looking to buy travel insurance for a specific trip right now, but if you go abroad frequently, consider annual travel insurance as it may be a better option for you.
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, in what sort of activities will you be engaging? Certain sports and activities require specific coverage, so if you want to try something adventurous, go for it but make sure you’re covered. Also, consider consulting a physician for their advice before partaking in certain activities – just to be on the safe side.
It should be noted that if you are over 65 years of age and/or have a medical condition, it is highly likely that you will need a specialist policy. Discuss these options with your chosen insurer.
It is also essential to think about what you want coverage for. Consider full medical coverage; this can cover the cost of treatment, accommodation, and travel for both you and another individual to accompany you. It can also extend to any medical equipment you take with you. There should also be a 24-hour phone line to contact your insurer in case of an emergency.
It is worth checking your current health insurance policy to see if it offers any overseas coverage, as this can save you a bundle of money and may potentially give you better coverage.
Other things include baggage coverages, cancelation, personal liability, and airline or hotel issues, especially for package vacations.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I buy travel insurance?
It is recommended that you buy travel insurance between 10 and 15 days within booking your trip reservations. This will help maximize your chances of getting the best rates and coverage. If you buy outside of this window, the prices are likely to be higher, and you may have to settle for a more limited policy.
Can I purchase a policy after my flight has been booked?
Yes, you can. It’s best to take out travel insurance as soon as you’ve booked your trip. Things can go wrong before you’ve even departed, so if you’ve got your policy in place, you can protect yourself against losses.
What about buying travel insurance if I’m already abroad?
You cannot buy travel insurance for a trip you’re already on – the very latest you can buy a policy by is before midnight on the day of your departure.