Is There a Best Place to Buy Travel Insurance?

shutterstock_130087970-2Many people treat travel insurance as a commodity: something they buy just to be on the safe side before taking a cruise or other major trip. Where they get the insurance is usually secondary. Their assumption is that, because travel insurance is a commodity, the coverage and the cost will usually be about the same no matter who sells it to them. And often the ultimate decision comes down to convenience—it’s easy just to press the “Travel Insurance” button on the cruise company’s or travel agent’s website when you book your trip, purchase a plan, and be done with it.

But the reality is quite different. Where you purchase your insurance can have a huge impact on the quality of coverage you get and the amount you pay for it. And, as with many other important buying decisions, it makes absolute sense to take a few minutes to comparison shop. Sometimes you’ll find that you need more or less coverage than you may have initially assumed. Sometimes you’ll find that you can get comparable coverage at a much lower cost to you, sometimes hundreds of dollars less for certain kinds of trips.

Here are a few questions you might consider:

Where can I buy travel insurance?

There are a variety of places. Sometimes you can get a rate on travel insurance through a payment card. You can also purchase travel insurance through many travel suppliers such as cruise lines or airlines or from travel agents. Today, most people do it this way. Finally, you can visit an online comparison site.

What if I buy through a card company or from a travel supplier or agent?

While it can be convenient to do it this way, there are many downsides people often overlook. Generally speaking, these are wholesale plans with lower coverage limits. Specifically:

  1. They never cover possibilities such as the financial failure of the common carrier. That is, if the cruise line or airline goes bankrupt before your trip, you won’t recover any of your investment.
  2. They can severely limit your reimbursement. If a cruise company cancels your cruise, for example, it will usually only give you a travel credit for a future cruise. Unlike other kinds of policies, you don’t get your money back so you can consider all the other cruise options available to you.
  3. They are not age sensitive. With these plans, young travelers (who usually pay lower rates for many kinds of policies) pay the same as older travelers.
  4. It’s difficult to comparison shop in order to find the best deal. This is because travel suppliers and agents usually carry policies from only 1 or 2 insurance companies and don’t offer you the chance to evaluate more of the options available to you.

What if I buy from an online comparison site?

The exciting news here is that you get to compare. Many facets of coverage can vary widely from company to company. Yes, depending on your age, the cost of your trip, length of your trip, and other factors, the rates can be dramatically different. If you buy online, you typically have several more options available to you, and you can usually choose the coverage that’s best for you.

Are there differences between the online sites?

Yes, there absolutely are. And one major consideration is cost for comparable plans. This is a business where healthy commissions are typically paid up and down the channel, all the way from the insurance company to the underwriter, to the organization making the actual sale. So, even though a site might allow you to compare, you won’t necessarily save significantly as opposed to, say, buying from a travel agent. TripInsurance.com has addressed this issue by enabling travelers to buy directly from the insurance company, eliminating what can sometimes be several layers of middlemen and offering a savings of 40% or more for comparable coverage. Another key consideration is service. This can also vary widely. And, at TripInsurance.com, we offer several unique benefits here as well, including 24/7 online claim filing.

If you have additional questions about purchase alternatives, feel free to email or call us. We won’t pressure you to buy anything from us. We’re just happy to help.

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