By Tonya Simpson
Experienced travelers understand that any trip worth taking is also worth insuring. The further from home you roam, the more you need travel insurance.
Shop carefully. Then, read the fine print.
As you shop for travel insurance, take time to tailor your coverage precisely to your needs. No one size truly fits all. The most popular Internet travel sites have widgets that let you select different kinds of protection and enter coverage limits; when you have completed the summary of your needs, the widgets generate quotes from several different insurance carriers. When you balance coverage and cost, you can buy your policy right there on the site. Reputable travel insurance carriers allow a 10-14 day “examination period,” which gives you ample time to read and ponder the fine print, look for loopholes, and study the exclusions. If you elect to cancel your policy during the examination period, you receive a full refund with no questions asked.
Finance your trip on your travel-friendly credit card
Most upscale credit cards come with provisions for travel. American Express, Mastercard, and Visa offer cards specially designed for frequent business travelers and worldwide adventurers, and several credit card rating and comparison sites offer clear, simple charts of benefits and costs. According to million-mile travelers, the American Express Gold Card offers the best travel protection for the most reasonable annual fee. Coverage includes medical and accident expenses and assistance, coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, generous coverage for lost baggage—including an allowance for new clothes and supplies until your luggage catches-up with you, an “inconvenience” allowance, and even provision for some legal assistance. AmEx does, however, have one glaring omission: it does not include supplemental rental car insurance, coverage that veterans insist in absolutely essential for safe, worry-free travel.
Five essential protections
Experts insist you must carry five kinds of essential travel insurance protection:
• Cancellation and interruption insurance In addition to covering “change fees” with airlines, cancellation and interruption insurance covers all your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses, including pre-paid charters and rentals for recreational activities and special excursions. You’re covered for sickness, injury, and bereavement; you’re also protected in cases of natural disaster, terrorist attacks, and changes in your work schedule. Your coverage extends to include nearly 20 other common reasons for altering your itinerary.
• Medical insurance and evacuation coverage Your regular health insurance does not coverage medical treatment outside the United States, and your credit card’s medical coverage may not stretch to cover the costs of catastrophic illness or injury. Most importantly, not all medical insurance pays for evacuation via helicopter or special air transport. Make sure you have all the protection you need.
• Protection against loss and delay Your baggage may take off on an adventure of its own, and you may lose a few precious items before it makes its way back to you. The best travel insurance covers total loss, single-item loss, and the costs of replacing your clothing and toiletries until your bags are returned. Just as importantly, if you experience a delay longer than four hours, the best coverage allows you to use airport amenities or secure overnight accommodations without money out-of-pocket.
• Supplemental rental car insurance Your travel insurance should pay not only for limited damage waivers but also should provide extra liability and breakdown insurance; the best policies cover roadside assistance of all kinds, and they pay “inconvenience charges,” including costs of food and lodging that result from an auto accident of mechanical failure.
• 24/7 phone assistance Your coverage must include access to skilled assistants ready to solve your problems at any time of the day or night at any intersection of latitudes and longitudes. Professional, personable, practical problem-solvers should be standing by throughout your trip.
The most important numbers
As you travel, carry all your essential documents and vital information in some kind of super-safe pouch which you keep on your person at all times. You may back up this information in your smart phone or tablet, but do not depend entirely on your consumer electronics because they always are vulnerable to damage, theft, and loss. Atop your list of vital digits, store the toll-free numbers for United States embassies in all the countries you will visit. When all else fails, the diplomatic service can bail you out of almost any travel debacle.
Tonya Simpson writes for askforinsurance.com where you can learn about what does general liability insurance cover?