Do I Need Travel Insurance?

More Considerations

Before you buy a policy, make sure you also know the answers to the following questions — read the fine print, or, better yet, make a list of questions and call the insurer so that you’re very clear of how the policy actually works.

Is the policy you want available in your state, and the insurance company licensed there?The policies available vary by state, and not all insurance companies are licensed in every state. If you have to make a claim and encounter problems with a company that isn’t licensed in your state, you don’t have a case.

Do you already have coverage through other insurance, and how much? Some insurance categories may already be covered, to some degree, by policies you already hold. For example, many credit cards come with travel perks (some degree of flight insurance, car-rental coverage, and so on). While your stateside car insurance most likely won’t cover you on European roads, your homeowners or medical insurance may travel with you. If so, don’t assume you’re fully covered. Do some careful homework and be very clear on the limits of your policies. (For example, some credit-card coverage is not always accepted by European rental agencies.)

Is the policy premium is refundable, and if so, for how long? Also, can you can change the dates of your coverage should you decide to reschedule a trip, rather than cancel it altogether? (Beware that the provider may charge a higher premium for your new date.)

How does the policy handle bookings added to a package trip? If you’re insuring a tour or package trip, find out whether the policy covers any pre- or post-tour reservations, which can come with different conditions. (Some reservations are completely nonrefundable.) Check to see which reservations you make (flight, hotel, transportation, tours, etc.) are covered by an insurance provider if you need to cancel.

If you need to cancel a trip and want to cancel your coverage too, check your policy to see if you’re eligible for a refund on your premium. If you plan to rebook your trip rather than cancel, check with your travel-insurance provider to see if you can move your policy to the new date (but know that you may have to pay more on the premium for your new date).

Travel always involves risks. And while insurance can help mitigate many of the expenses incurred if things go wrong, it won’t eliminate all risk, and likely won’t entirely reimburse every expense. When choosing if travel insurance is right for you, do your homework, ask questions, and think about how much peace of mind is really worth to you.

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