This is the time of year when many individuals and families travel to escape the cold or to get some much needed rest and relaxation. While it could take months or years to save up for a trip, it could take minutes for plans to change and money spent on airfare to be lost.
Travel insurance can protect against those losses, with coverages ranging from medical expenses, trip cancellation/interruption, baggage damage, and more. But, is the cheapest insurance plan always the best? Not necessarily, say the experts.
“It’s very difficult to judge the value of insurance. All too often, we find out the true value only after we’ve had a loss and have had to submit a claim,” said John Cook, President of Quotewright.com, a leading online provider of travel insurance plans. “That’s the wrong time to find out that the more expensive policy might have been the better one.”
Cook advises that travel insurance customers ignore price until they have compared policies and plans and have found a plan that best fits their specific travel plans. The policy purchased last year for a trip to the Bahamas, for example, probably will not be the best policy for a trip to Hong Kong this year.
“Your travel insurance needs change with family circumstances, time of the year and destination. When researching and purchasing travel insurance, travelers should concentrate on their primary concern -What is prompting me to buy travel insurance in the first place? Am I concerned about losing my trip investment if I have to cancel? Am I concerned about medical expenses overseas or medical evacuations if I should have a serious accident or sickness while on my trip?” said Cook. “It’s easy to be side-tracked and confused by other features found in travel insurance plans or on their price and to lose focus on your primary objective.”
Websites like Quotewright.com, recently rated by the Washington Post as “a cut above” in their listing of the “best and brightest” in the online travel industry, are an excellent source of information for consumers looking to compare and purchase travel insurance.
With the huge price disparities in travel insurance, it’s easy to see how travelers can focus on price, rather than on the plans themselves. In a recent survey conducted by Quotewright.com, the average price difference between the lowest and highest price insurance quotes was 286 %. Of 25 plans offered by all major national travel insurance companies, the average low quote was $179 and the average high quote was $694.
Purchasing travel insurance based solely or primarily on price can be a ticket to disaster. Take, for example, a client who purchases an inexpensive policy that does not cover pre-existing medical conditions and finds out that he has to cancel his trip due to the pre-existing medical condition of a non-traveling family member. The claim will be denied because he chose a less expensive plan that didn’t cover his particular circumstance.
“Even the least expensive policy is overpriced if it doesn’t cover you when you need it,” advised Cook. “The best advice we can provide is to ignore price until you have compared policies and plans and have found the one that best fits your specific travel plans. Consumers should think of ‘cheap travel insurance’ as the policy that is best for their needs, regardless of the cost.”