Understanding Travel Insurance

Purchasing travel insurance isn’t the most exciting aspect of planning a trip. Sometimes it can be an afterthought, and some travelers might hope for the best and think it’s unnecessary. Not to mention, the process can seem daunting, complicated, and potentially expensive, but in many cases purchasing some form of travel insurance should be a necessity. When funding a costly vacation, travel insurance can be useful, and guards against unexpected financial losses that could arise from any number of possibilities from trip cancellations to falling ill while abroad. In the long run, the benefit of peace of mind alone can far exceed the relatively minimal cost. Regardless of every individual’s trip, budget or circumstance, all travelers should understand the purpose, types, and reasons for purchasing travel insurance. Thoughtful choices in the early stage of the trip planning process can minimize financial losses to make for worry-free and memorable vacations.

What is Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance comes in many different forms. The main types include trip cancellation or interruption, medical insurance, evacuation and baggage. Most packages come with some variation of these, though many can also be purchased piecemeal. The type depends on the needs and budget of the traveler, so it’s important to understand what’s covered under each. 

  • Trip cancellation or interruption protects the traveler in event of unexpected circumstances such as illness, layoff, or missed flights.
  • Medical travel insurance covers the cost of medical care. Many at-home policies cover international travel and medical travel insurance supplements that coverage.
  • Evacuation coverage provides transportation for medical emergencies. Many plans extend coverage to transport the insured back to the U.S.
  • Insuring baggage provides reimbursement for lost, stolen or destroyed baggage and covers the purchase of essential items if baggage is delayed.

Why Do I Need Travel Insurance

Vacations can already cost a pretty penny, but what’s worse is potentially losing a small fortune on unexpected costs or non-refundable tickets for a trip that needs to be canceled. While everyone hopes for the best outcome, accidents happen and all travelers need to be realistic about those possibilities. Travel insurance protects against the unexpected. That said, travel insurance is essential if the traveler is: 

  • Paying upfront for flights, tours or lodging
  • Travelling internationally requires a minimum of medical and evacuation coverage
  • Planning active excursions such as scuba diving, hiking or even swimming
  • Bringing along any valuables like laptops, smartphones or tablets
  • Has a medical condition or takes medication
  • Is traveling with children

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and all travelers should be aware and prepared for the unexpected.

Popular Travel Insurance Providers

Choosing a travel insurance provider can be a complicated process. Covered below are some of the more popular travel insurance providers and the types of packages they offer. 

  • AIG Insurance - AIG offers a travel insurance program called Travel Guard. As one of the most popular providers, Travel Guard offers many different packages as well as standalone products. Their most popular Gold plan covers all the basics like baggage and cancellations and also insures children under 17 at no added cost. Travel Guard users appreciate the ability to customize their coverage and the relatively low cost.
  • Free Spirit Travel Insurance - Free Spirit advertises their focus on accepting travelers with medical conditions. This type of coverage can be difficult to obtain through other providers and it tends to dramatically increase the cost. While coverage through Free Spirit is a bit more expensive, is markedly more comprehensive. Both of their plans include coverage for emergency dental care as well as extensive at home care following hospitalization.
  • Top Dog Travel Insurance - Top Dog is a budget choice for travel insurance. They offer a few different plans with varying levels of coverage but travelers should be aware that some of these don’t include baggage coverage or travel delays but the more comprehensive plans that include these items are still budget-friendly. Top Dog also covers pre-existing medical conditions as an add-on option. 

Allianz Travel Insurance  - Allianz offers a wide range of plans from essential to comprehensive coverage. Again some of the more basic plans exclude baggage or medical coverage but they’re a more budget-friendly option, particularly if one's medical insurance already covers travel. Allianz also offers a range of annual plans, making it a budget option for student or work travel.

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