If your calculator helped you determine that the cost of your vacation is too much money to lose, your next step is to buy travel insurance. But taking the first policy you find could be a big waste of financial resources. Here are a few tips to make sure you are covered for the right price.
Often, the travel supplier or cruise line will offer insurance as part of the air, hotel and sightseeing package. It’s not a good idea to accept this without a little digging. For instance, some policies only pay you back in that company’s currency — i.e. if you spent $2,000 on a balcony cabin, you are reimbursed with $2,000 to spend on your next cruise with the company, not $2,000 in cash.
Second, the company’s standard policy may be far more coverage than you need. For instance, it’s not uncommon for a package policy to cover what’s known as “cancel for any reason,” which mean just that. You don’t need to prove you were too ill to get on the plane the morning your vacation started or provide a copy of an in-law’s death certificate. You can refuse to go because your horoscope didn’t please you or your niece announced her baby shower for the weekend you’re away and still apply for a reimbursement. However, these policies also cost more because they absorb more risk. If your family intends to be on that plane unless a standard coverage reason interferes (death or illness in the immediate family, loss of job, your house burns down), you are automatically over covered, and overpaying.
Finally, suppliers also tend to mark up insurance policies beyond what the same carriers will charge if you apply directly. But because the quote for your honeymoon package to Jamaica is quoted as a total price, it’s difficult to make that call. Ask for a quote with and without insurance to determine what the company is charging. Then go directly to TravelGuard or Allianz Global Assistance for quotes on your trip. These are the larger issuers in the United States that typically provide the policies for suppliers, although there are certainly hundreds of other companies that could charge even less. You should also consult comparison sites like SquareMouth and InsureMyTrip to make sure you are getting a market price.
If you are even a little confused, turn to a travel agent for guidance; they are paid a commission on your policy purchase, so you won’t pay extra for their expert service. And they have access to companies like ITravelInsured that deal only with travel agents, for still lower price quotes on the coverage you want.
To make sure you understand the policy you are buying, drill the company representative or travel agent with these questions:
1. What does this policy cover? It is possible to buy cancellation-only policies that do not include medical coverage, and vice versa, if that’s your goal.
2. Under what circumstances may I cancel? Let the company know your situation for the best advice. If your grandmother is in hospice, for instance, with some policies that means a turn for the worse is not unexpected. They would require you to buy a cancel anytime policy.
3. Does it cover pre-existing conditions? In many cases, if you purchase the insurance within 14 days of making your first deposit on the trip, you are covered for ongoing situations like chemo treatments. With other carriers, as long as you are healthy and able to travel the day you bought the insurance, you’re covered.
And good to go.
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