Today, more people than ever are buying travel insurance. Survey results vary, of course, but a general consensus within the travel industry is that more than 30% of Americans purchase plans before they go on vacations in contrast to roughly 10% just a decade ago. That’s amazing growth, for sure. And it’s a testament to a fast-growing awareness of the value of these products. If we haven’t experienced a problem first hand that travel insurance can help us with, we all know people who have. And naturally, we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones from all those unforeseen things that can—and often do—happen on trips.
But, just appreciating the need for travel insurance isn’t enough. And one disturbing trend the U.S. Travel Insurance Association has found in its surveys is that people are “buying blindly”—signing up for travel insurance without fully thinking through their options, understanding exactly what they they’re covered for, or considering any number of other issues.
So, what are some things you can do to make sure that you’re getting the most from travel insurance? Here are 5 we’ve identified as critical:
- Check out insurance options in addition to what the travel supplier offers. Just after you’ve booked that cruise or those airline tickets, it’s incredibly easy just to click the travel insurance button on the travel supplier’s website and buy travel insurance through the supplier. But it probably won’t be your best option. These policies don’t protect consumers if the supplier goes bankrupt. Often, they include cancellation provisions that are much more restrictive to the consumer than other policies. And then there’s value—consumers will almost always get a much better deal both in terms of price and quality of coverage if they shop around on the web. Depending on the length and type of trip they take, for example, the cost savings alone can come to hundreds of dollars.
- Check to see if a policy has a pre-existing condition waiver. People usually don’t look at policies closely to see whether or not a pre-existing condition waiver is included. This is an extremely valuable feature that gives you additional options if something unforeseen forces a change in your trip plans. Many policies are cheaper simply because they don’t include a pre-existing condition waiver and this lowers the risk for the insurer. So, if breadth and quality of coverage is an issue for you, make sure your policy has a pre-existing condition waiver.
- Purchase insurance within 14 days of your initial deposit on trip services such as cruises, airline tickets, or hotels. While you can wait until the day before you leave on vacation to purchase travel insurance, don’t. When you purchase within 14 days of your initial trip deposit, you get several benefits. One—and perhaps the most important—is that pre-existing condition waiver.
- If your trip plans change, update your policy. Many travelers constantly adjust their trips as they plan them. Often these adjustments mean extra nights or upgraded accommodations, things that increase overall trip cost. And often these adjustments are made after the travel insurance has been purchased. If this is the case—if for any reason cost of the non-refundable parts of your trip goes up—you need to call the insurance company within 14 days of the change to update the trip cost and the insured amount in your policy. If you don’t update for the non-refundable parts of your trip, the insurance company can actually deny any claim you might make. That’s because—to be covered—you must insure 100% of the non-refundable trip penalties. By the same token, if the cost of your non-refundable expenses goes down, you should also contact the insurer, who will adjust your policy accordingly and charge you less for your coverage.
- Read the certificate of coverage ASAP. When you purchase travel insurance, you will receive a certificate of coverage that explains your policy in detail. Read it right away. Read it carefully. And, as you read it, focus on the areas of most concern for you about your coverage. If there’s something you don’t like about the policy, you always have 10 days to return it and receive a full refund.
If you want to learn more about any of these subjects—even if you’ve already purchased insurance from someone else—feel free to call us at 1-877-219-8169 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re always happy to help people better understand their travel insurance options so they can get the most for their money and feel confident that the coverage they have is right for them.