To say it pays to compare travel insurance may seem like a cliché, but in truth, tailoring your coverage to your specific needs–and potential needs–can save you a lot of hardship and money under worst case scenarios.
Commonly, travelers purchase the first insurance plan offered by their supplier, trusting they’re adequately covered to arrive safely and healthy, and if, per chance, they have to canceled their trip, they’re satisfied that their policy covers them for that as well. Chances are not good that the first plan offered is the best, nor is it cost effective in the long run.
The most common policy offered falls under the category of “Cancellation Protection” or “Cancellation Waiver.” These policies are frequently offered by tour operators, airlines and cruise lines and consist of both traditional insurance and non-traditional; the latter is comprised of self-insurance by the travel supplier. This, as one might understand, is generally discouraged by most consumer advocates, primarily because the traveler may suffer a double loss if their travel supplier goes under; loss of the trip and loss of the coverage.
Most important is the knowledge that these “one size fits all” policies are grossly inadequate for those covered by Medicare of Medicaid who travel out of the country. In the event of an illness or catastrophic circumstance, the $10,000-$25,000 of medical coverage provided to the traveler may prove to be far too little, costing the traveler a great deal more out-of-pocket expense.
What’s the solution? Compare the policies offered–which can range from economy, standard and deluxe–by comparing both your immediate needs as well as your potential needs. It’s important to realize that even with traditional travel insurance, coverage may vary from both company-to-company, but also within the same company, and prices can vary by more than 300% for the same trip.
Needless to say, it’s crucial that travelers shop around before deciding on coverage. Equally important is for the traveler to consider the limits of their health, home and/or auto insurance, as well as how much is available via credit cards. If the results are less than satisfactory for the trip on which one is about to embark, the solution is to find the best travel insurance plan that fills the gaps, in terms of coverage.
The short answer is that the traveler’s coverage should not begin and end with trip cancellation coverage alone. Assuring that one has adequate medical coverage is equally as important. Once you have this information, the final step is to concentrate on selecting the right plan—that fits your needs–at the best price. Not knowing your risk and settling for the first plan offered, regardless of what may appear as an immediate saving, might actually cost the traveler more in the end.