Do I Need Travel Insurance? Your 10 Most Common Questions about Coverage – Answered!

Health & Safety — By on November 1, 2010 at 2:22 pm

By Sithara Reddy
Special to Lost Girls World

Stranded in AirportBy now, you’ve no doubt experienced that sickening feeling of dread when a forgotten passport, canceled flight, or lost bag threatens to derail your perfectly laid vacation plans. But while there are myriad mishaps that could befall a Lost Girl on the go (including getting sick, robbed or stranded somewhere far, far from home), buying travel insurance is the best way to keep those inevitable events from ruining your entire getaway. Sure, fronting the cash for a policy may kind of seem like betting against yourself, but what you’re really paying for is total peace of mind. Should something really unfortunate goes down, you’ll be completely covered— and if it doesn’t, well then, consider yourself lucky!

Still not totally convinced you should budget for travel insurance (or just confused about which kind you should buy?). Check out the 10 most common questions asked about travel insurance policies and determine if you’ll truly be covered on your next getaway.

1. Do I really need travel insurance?

The short answer: Yes—absolutely.

“It doesn’t matter how long you’re traveling, or whether you’re going exploring in a remote locale such as Papua New Guinea versus a week of museum-hopping in London or Paris, the unplanned can—and usually does—happen,” Christina Tunnah, Vice President of Business Development at the Australia-based World Nomads travel insurance.

She explains that while you can technically get on a plane without a policy, you’ll be putting yourself in a pretty precarious position.

“While you wouldn’t need it if everything went according to plan, travel insurance preventative measure for a worst-case situation, such as a major theft, debilitating illness or accident where you’d need access to immediate medical care,” she says. “There’s nothing more daunting than trying to deal with incidents like these, overseas, without the benefit of a dedicated emergency assistance team.”

2. So, how much coverage should I get?

Although most travel insurance companies don’t allow you to cherry-pick and tailor your own personal plan, there are a few basic types of policies to choose from. As a general rule, the more you want covered, the more you’ll pay. Most companies provide flexible plans for shorter-term journeys and vacations that cover trip cancellation and medical expenses. You can also get a policy that’s specifically designed to help with international medical expenses and evacuations, and all encompassing long-term policies that make sense if you plan to travel for up to a year.

In addition, note the activities you have planned (ie, sky diving, white water rafting) and, if possible, get coverage that encompasses them. Some plans won’t cover certain high risk sports and experiences, so be sure to ask and read the fine print.

If you’ve got a pre-existing medical condition, check to see if your related medical expenses will be take care of. Many companies very conveniently do not cover these health issues, so read your policy in depth if this is important to you.

Overall, always make sure you read through all inclusions and exclusions.

3. Can I buy a policy on the road?

Although most insurance companies don’t charge extra for buying a last-minute plan, it’s best to purchase one early on since cancellation coverage is not typically included on policies bought after you’ve booked tickets.

“With World Nomads, there are no extra charges associated with buying travel insurance at the last minute,” said Tunnah. “The price for the same duration of coverage is identical, whether it was purchased months in advance or when already on the road.”

4. How much will a policy cost?

The price of a policy is generally thought to be around 5 to 8 percent of the total cost of your trip, and therefore based on destination, the duration of your journey, and any extra options added.

5. If I slip in the tub and break my leg, am I covered?

Yes, almost certainly. Although each policy is different, to a certain degree, they’ll all cover medical emergencies and evacuations. Most travelers never consider that they might have to spend time in a foreign hospital—but this is actually one of the most compelling reasons to buy travel insurance. The cost of a hospitalization just about anywhere is expensive, and a medical evacuation can cost upward of $100,000.

Look over the policy you decide on for specifics on medical coverage—you don’t want to be stuck in some far-flung location, unable to get the care you need.

6. Will my policy cover me if I injure another person or cause property damage?

If you got into an accident or unintentionally cause the damage, then yes—personal liability is often covered. Again, check with you insurance company directly to be certain.

7. What happens if I can’t go on my trip?

Most policies will account for trip cancellation due to a number of unforeseen circumstances. If you contract a serious illness or the death of a family member takes precedence over travel plans, trip cancellation will cover you—as long as you bought the policy prior to your trip.

8. Will my policy cover me if I have to return home during my journey?

Travel insurance policies typically end the moment you arrive at your final destination. It’s importan­­t to check out the specifics because unless it states otherwise, if you come home early from a trip you bought a policy for, you are not entitled to a refund on the remainder.

9. My bag just got stolen—now what?!

Most people buy travel insurance in case of loss of their personal belongings, but it should probably be the least of your worries: Health problems are usually more serious than lost luggage. Be aware of where you leave your belongings because not all policies will cover the costs of your stolen bags if you’ve left them unattended in a public place. If you’re carrying expensive electronic equipment, check to find out if those items will be covered or if you can purchase additional insurance to cover those items. One last word: Be sure to back up your photos and videos online periodically, as no amount of travel insurance will cover the loss of your trip footage!

10. What doesn’t my policy cover?

You’ll most likely be on your own for: pre-existing medical conditions; deliberate life threatening acts (like, you know, base-jumping) accidents involving alcohol or drugs, contracting HIV or other STDs while traveling. Check your policy carefully so you’re perfectly clear on the ground rules before you leave.

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  • Kristi says:

    Hey Sithara,

    Funny you wrote this article recently- I have been on travel insurance websites for the past 3 days now attempting to read the fine print in all of the ridiculous wording. And from what I have gathered, travel insurance tends to double cover you if you already have health insurance and homeowner’s insurance. I know that my Health insurance plan covers me for emergency medical attention/illness/transportation if it should happen when I am overseas, which is exactly what World Nomads claims to cover. My homeowners insurance covers ANY type of stolen item, whether it be a backpack, camera, ipod…and they cover up to $20,000. I was advised to take a picture of the things I was bringing with me as proof of ownership, but again, it seems like this is what World Nomads also claims to cover. To me, a lot of this seems like double coverage. However, with trip cancellation/delay for such things like terrorism, death of a family member, etc…I’m not covered. But before you buy your travel insurance, READ THE FINE PRINT! Some companies are sooo specific on what the do and do not cover. I would definitely recommend looking at what your current health insurance covers as well as homeowners insurance.

  • Lost Girls says:

    Thanks so much for the great comment @Kristi
    It’s important to make a list of anything you have questions about and CALL the insurance company directly to make sure they’re answered! The customer service reps should be well-versed on what types of activities and valuable are covered and if they’re not, then you might want to consider going in another direction!

  • Randall says:

    I also agree that buying a travel insurance for your trip is a must. Accidents do happen and it doesn’t exempt anyone so be sure that you got your self covered in case something unfortunate or unexpected happens. Better to be with insurance rather than not. Like you said, it’s for peace of mind. Travel worry-free.

  • Sophie says:

    It is better to be prepared and insured that face with financial trouble later on when illness or injury comes during travel. It is true that getting one is a little bit and addition to travel expenses but I bet it is worth it. This is very important especially when you are traveling in developed countries like United States where health care is very expensive.

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