Why should I buy travel insurance? Isn’t it just a gimmick for my travel agent so they can up-sell me and get higher commission?
Given all the factors that could upset or interrupt that dream vacation you have been planning for forever now, is it worth the financial gamble not to buy that insurance? You hear it on the news everyday, political unrest or natural disasters around the world. Or, maybe it is a little closer to home; you suddenly fall ill, a family member passes, or you were on the way to the airport when you were in a traffic accident. Any or all of these events could spoil your chance at enjoying that long-needed vacation, and you could loose all those non-refundable dollars you invested in that trip.
To protect you against the unexpected; to protect your investment in this vacation; and simply to provide you with some peace of mind. Furthermore, it is best to keep in mind that when traveling to a foreign country, most regular health insurance plans provide only partial or absolutely no coverage for medical expenses incurred when abroad. And if you are covered by Medicare, there is definitively no coverage for health-care expenses outside of the United States.
And for those of us who are scuba divers, most health and life insurance plans do not cover accidents that occur during the participation in any hazardous sports. And keep in mind if your vacation is on a liveaboard. Your final destination may be far away from land, and if your luggage does not arrive with you, you may not see it until you return to land. That is, unless you want to cough up some serious change to have it transferred to you.
What about my homeowners, life, and auto insurance policies? Doesn’t my credit card have travel insurance already?
Your other insurance policies may cover some of the expenses, but once again, are often very limited when traveling abroad. Most credit cards who offer travel insurance have coverage that is limited to an low-level annual cap or a limited lists of reasons. Both trip interruption and travel delay coverage are limited as well. In addition, most credit cards do not cover medical expenses or evacuation. And what about that insurance you purchase through the airlines you’re flying with? Well, it might cover minor expenses, but read the policy carefully. Generally, the airline is out to cover itself more than you.
Aren’t there always a bunch of “loopholes” hidden in the fine print?
As with any contract, read everything and do your best to understand it thoroughly. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Everything you need to know about your travel insurance plan is covered in the “Policy Certificate”. And for consumer protection, all travel insurance companies provide a limited “Free Look Period” so that you may review your policy after purchase. If after purchasing a particular plan you feel it is not the right one for you, you can cancel it for a 100% refund, if you do it within the specified time period.
So what am I looking for in this fine print to avoid these “loopholes”?
1) Cancellation/Interruption Coverage
There isn’t a policy out there that covers everything. Make sure to read the list of cancellation reasons covered in the Policy Certificate by a particular plan to ensure it meets your needs. If in doubt that you have all the coverage you need, you can generally opt to spend a little extra on a “Cancel For Any Reason” rider to cover all your bases.
2) Pre-Existing Conditions
Insurance is meant to cover sudden or unexpected events; not a condition that happened prior to the purchase of insurance. Many travel plans offer an optional waiver to the “Pre-Existing Condition Exclusion” for a small fee and based on a few requirements.
- You must buy the insurance soon after your payment of your trip deposit (initial payment)
- You must be medically cleared for travel at the time of purchase
- You must insure the full cost of your trip
3) Coverage Exclusions
Read and understand your Policy Certificate for the general policy exclusions. Some examples of exclusions would be pregnancy-related issues, loss due to intoxication, self-inflicted injuries, etc.
Don’t enroll too late. Get travel insurance within days of your first payment. This will maximize your period of cancellation coverage. If you get sick before you purchase insurance, it’s too late. If that hurricane looming in the Caribbean is already named, it’s too late.
5) Incomplete Documentation
Your Policy Certificate will outline the various documentation required to be submitted for a claim. For example, a cancellation claim due to injury or illness needs to be the result of a doctor recommending cancellation of the trip. If you have any issue that will affect or has affected your trip, contact your insurance company immediately and start saving all documents and receipts for submittal to cover your bases.
Remember, you can avoid the frustration of “loopholes” down the road if you take the time to read and understand your Policy Certificate, and buy your travel insurance plan early.
So what’s this travel insurance going to cost me?
It all depends on the trip cost, your age, and the amount of coverage you choose. Generally, you can find a very basic plan for about 4% of your trip cost, or a premium coverage plan may go up to over 12% of your trip cost. If you opt to protect yourself by choosing a travel medical insurance only plan, the cost can be as few as dollars per day.
Ok, so maybe I will buy travel insurance after all. Where do I go next?
Well, if you book your travel through me, for your convenience, a quote from Allianz Travel Insurance will be sent directly to you at the time of booking. The quote will be re-sent automatically one week later if you do not respond. After that, if you choose to opt out, a waiver will be sent that says you have chosen to decline insurance.
For divers in particular, you have to remember your primary medical insurance may exclude scuba diving as a hazardous sport. If it does cover scuba diving, it may pay only a minimal amount for chamber treatment. Both the DAN (Divers Alert Network) and Diveassure Dive Accident Insurance Plans provide coverage locally and around the world. They are recognized worldwide and can be confirmed easily by a phone call 24 hours a day. Not only do these providers cover dive accident insurance, but dive travel insurance as well. No matter how many dives you do or how many trips you do in a year there are plenty of choices from either DAN or Diveassure. Both DAN and Diveassure have 3 levels of dive accident insurance to choose from.
Like what you’ve read? Want to learn how to better enjoy your scuba diving vacation? Maybe you’d like to travel with Delightful Departures on an upcoming adventure? Become part of the Delightful Departures community. Discover different destinations and travel tips in our biweekly newsletter. Join today.