Taking out insurance of any kind is no one’s idea of a fun time. It implies that there is a worst case scenario that you have to prepare for, and nobody likes to think in those terms while planning their vacation. In any case, it’s always a good idea to take out insurance cover when you travel because who knows? Some unexpected events might lead to unexpected expenses, which are much better handled by an insurer than coming out of your own pocket.
If this is your first time purchasing travel insurance, then let us be the first to congratulate you; you’ve made the right decision. In the same way as buying car or home insurance is a necessity to secure your car and home, travel insurance is a must no matter where you’re travelling to. With a standard travel insurance policy, you’ll be covered for a multitude of unexpected scenarios, such as unforeseen trip delays and cancellations, overseas medical expenses, or having to replace lost or stolen luggage, personal effects and travel documents.
However, if you’re choosing an insurance company for the first time, it’s important to make an informed decision so that you aren’t stuck with a policy that doesn’t meet your needs. Read on for top expert tips on how to buy the best travel insurance policy.
Understand What Travel Insurance Is
Essentially, travel insurance is there to cover the financial expenses related to unexpected medical emergencies and unforeseen events that might lead to trip delays or cancellations, as well as the sudden loss of personal effects, luggage or other valuable items.
When shopping around for travel insurance, it’s important to keep in mind that you’ll come across different levels of cover, which are based on the insurance company, the size of the policy’s excess, as well as the features included in the plan. Different policies offer different medical expense options, while those with higher amounts are mostly meant for countries with expensive medical care such as the US. So, make sure you choose a provider with a really good medical expense coverage, as this is one aspect of your policy you don’t want to skimp on!
Check What’s Included in Your Insurance Policy
Before you choose your insurance policy, identify your needs and ask yourself questions like; what kind of destination am I traveling to? What transport am I using to get there? What type of activities am I interested in? How long will the trip last? Who are my travelling companions? What’s the value of the personal effects and other items that I’m travelling with? How can I best avoid risk during my journey?
Extent of coverage – What’s the extent of your cover? Is it limited to medical costs incurred abroad only or can it be extended to cover local medical costs if treatment continues when you get home?
Claims procedure - Find out what your insurer’s claims procedure is, including the documents they require in order to process a claim, and the time frame in which the documents must be submitted and the incident reported.
Amount of premium - Does the premium amount reflect your needs, or can you remove or add on to better insulate yourself for the trip?
Available upgrades - Is it possible to extend the limit on individual valuables in your luggage? If so, how much will it be and can it include items that you’ve purchased while abroad?
Drugs and alcohol - Be careful to drink in moderation, as you’ll most likely forfeit your cover if found under the influence during the reported incident.
What’s not covered - Typically, most policies exclude things like high-risk activities and professional sports, travellers with pre-existing medical conditions and travel to unexplored regions of high-risk destinations. However, you can purchase special cover for them if necessary, although the options are far and few in between.
Exclusions - Most travel insurance companies won’t cover you for incidents such as volcanoes or landslides, as well as extreme weather conditions, or terrorist attacks, acts of war or any commotion that can cause travel disruptions.
We recommend that you choose a policy with the smallest number of exclusions, and be sure to read the fine print on your contract and also disclose pre-existing medical conditions in time.
Should You Get Travel Insurance for Domestic Travel?
The straightforward answer to this question is; yes! While you may have pretty good medical insurance, it might be a good idea to take out travel insurance if you’re engaging in some adventure activities, as you may end up requiring emergency helicopter rescue, which can cost up to $25,000! It’s entirely up to you, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Should You Get an Annual Policy or a Single Trip Cover?
This depends on your travel plans and itinerary. For example, if you’re a frequent traveler, whether for recreational or work purposes, then it might be a good idea to take out an annual travel insurance policy, which will cover all the trips you will make within a 12-month period from the moment you sign up.
The best part about it is that you’ll save a lot of money compared to taking out a new policy for each trip. However, if you’re not a frequent traveller, then the single-trip policy may be a good idea, as you won’t have to pay for trips that you’re not taking.
Also, keep in mind that premiums are based on the age of the older policyholder and premiums immediately increase for travellers over 65 years old. If one of the family members that you’re travelling with is 65 or above, then you’ll do well to get them a separate policy so that you can get the best deal on both policies. That said, it’s always a good idea to do the math for yourself and find out what’s the best option for you.
Lastly, remember that with a higher premium excess comes a lower premium, so make sure to pay the full excess amount instead of trying to avoid paying excess like some travellers, because doing so will lead to paying more when a claim is needed than you would with a higher excess. The average excess amount for most policies is around $100.