Whenever I travel abroad, I always wrestle with the decision on whether or not to purchase travel insurance. I can either play it safe and invest the extra money for peace of mind, or simply roll the dice. Travel insurance comes in a few different flavors: trip cancellation or interruption; loss or damage to personal items; and emergency travel medical insurance. The cost of the abovementioned insurances can depend on the length of the trip, the destination, and the number of travelers.
Before you begin to weigh the pros and cons, there are a few things you should research. First, begin with your own health insurance plan. When I went to Brazil, my husband and I were covered if we needed medical treatment. My health insurance would even cover a medical evacuation. Thankfully, we never needed to use our health insurance while in Brazil. Not all health insurance plans cover medical costs while traveling. Be sure to check with your provider. If the provider doesn’t cover medical expenses, you can look into companies that will allow you to purchase travel health insurance.
You should also review your homeowners and auto policies to see what is covered when you travel. For example, damage or a loss of your personal property may be covered under your homeowner’s policy. For my trip to Brazil, our policy did in fact cover any damage or loss of personal property while traveling. You can find out what is covered by simply calling your insurance agent.
What you will need to purchase is trip cancellation insurance. I would recommend you purchase travel insurance, especially if you are booking vacation abroad and especially if you are booking the trip several months in advance. Let’s say you booked a trip to Europe to stay at one of our International Vacation Home Exchange properties. Then, a few weeks before you are scheduled to leave, something happens and you need to cancel your trip. Travel insurance can provide reimbursement for ticket costs due to trip cancellation arising from illnesses, injuries, or natural disasters. The reasons for a canceled trip usually have to meet specific definitions before you can obtain a reimbursement. Missing your flight because you overslept is not going to cut it. You may also need a doctor’s note if you claim an illness or injury forced you to cancel your trip. Travel insurance may also cover your expenses in the event of a terrorist attack, political evacuation, and the cost to replace a lost or stolen passport.
Of course everyone has different situations, so considering travel insurance is always a good process. If you are interested in purchasing travel insurance for you next vacation, you can do so a few different ways. You can purchase travel insurance through travel agents or travel suppliers. You can also purchase insurance from companies directly and online. If you do opt to purchase insurance online, be sure you are working with a reputable company. If you live in the United States, you can check out the US Travel Insurance Association website for additional information. Also, be sure to talk to one of our IVHE travel coordinators about our trip cancellation policies regarding vacation home exchanges.
Thank you to travel guest blogger Carla Pruitt. You can follow Carla on Twitter at @crobscarla.