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5 Things You Need To Know About Travel Insurance

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Five things you need to know about travel insurance

Even the most seasoned travelers sometimes feel confused about the benefits of travel insurance — what’s out there, what it covers, whether or not they need it.

While coverage and policies vary from state to state or province to province, of course, here are some basics of travel insurance to get you started:


  1. There are five main types of travel insurance. What you might need depends largely on what kind of trip you’re taking, what kind of traveler you are, and how frequently you travel. The five main types are:
    • trip cancellation and interruption (full or partial reimbursement for a trip you need to cancel prior to departure, a trip that gets cancelled because a tour company or resort goes out of business, or a trip that gets cut short for a wide variety of reasons)
    • medical (for health issues that occur outside of your normal coverage area)
    • evacuation (due to disaster, dangerous weather, political emergency, or medical emergency)
    • baggage (reimbursement for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage)
    • flight insurance (also called “crash coverage,” this is basically a life insurance policy that covers you while you’re on the plane, in the event of a statistically-rare crash)
      Travel expert Rick Steves explains the way they generally work is like this: “The various types are generally sold in some combination — rather than buying only baggage, medical, or cancellation insurance, you’ll usually purchase a package that includes most or all of them. If you want just one type of coverage in particular — such as medical — ask for that (though it might come with a little cancellation or baggage insurance, too). ‘Comprehensive insurance’ covers all of the above, plus expenses incurred if your trip is delayed, if you miss your flight, or if your tour company changes your itinerary.
2Just because you have health insurance at home does not mean that it will cover you on your trip. You need to check the ins and outs of your particular health insurance policy. It may cover you while you travel, but many do not. In fact, some insurance policies don’t even cover health emergencies experienced on foreign-flagged vessels — which is what most cruise ships are. Check with your provider, ask your travel agent for suggestions, and of course direct any insurance-related questions to the provider. As Steves puts it, “Before purchasing a policy, ask your insurer to explain exactly what’s covered before and after you get to the hospital.”

3.  Avoid purchasing travel insurance from the company that’s also hosting your trip. The reason for this? If that company goes out of business, chances are, so does their insurance.

4.  Some companies offer comprehensive coverage that can serve as your primary coverage while you’re traveling. What does this mean, and how can it benefit you? It means that the insurance company will pay first, regardless of what other insurance you have.
5.  Weigh the cost of the trip with the cost of insurance. If you just bought a $79 ticket for a quick weekend in Chicago — is it worth it? Maybe, maybe not. If, however, you’re headed out on a once-in-a-lifetime trip that you’ve been saving for months, travel insurance is likely a great idea.

Our personal experience with travel insurance

I know nobody wants an added cost to their vacation.  I’m going to share a true story about the benefits of travel insurance.  Back in 2006 my kids and I were booked to go on a family vacation to attend my nephews wedding in the Dominican Republic.  Everything was going smoothly until their dad came home with the Norwalk virus days before our trip.  My oldest daughter came down with same symptoms that same evening. 

Two days later I was deathly ill.  If you’ve ever contact this virus you know how sick you are.  There is no way you can gather enough strength to pull yourself away from the toilet let alone travel to the airport and sit on a plane full of people for hours in this condition.  The night before we were to fly out my middle daughter and son had contact the virus in full force.  I was set to cancel the whole trip.

I’m thinking to myself the evening before there is no way we can go on this vacation in our present state.  My oldest daughter really wanted to go and was feeling better.  The rest of us felt like a truck hit us.  Feeling guilty I called my travel agent at the time and told her what was happening.  I thought better but decided my oldest and myself could go on the trip.  The younger two kids ended up staying with their dad for the week.

Our travel agent changed our flight tickets & hotel voucher as we were all sharing the same room.  She also sent me a form to submit to the insurance company to hopefully be re-reimbursed for some of the expenses.

In short, the wedding was great, but the first 3 days I was still very weak and sick.  My kids at home took the full week to recover, and we were able to get back the money lost from my younger kids.  I was so glad I had spent the extra to purchase the travel insurance for all of us.  You just never know what will happen.  One of the many positive benefits of purchasing travel insurance.
If you’re looking to maximize your fun and minimize your risk, travel insurance might be just the right option for you. Take your time, ask tons of questions, and find what works best for you and your family.  We found comparing the most comprehensive travel insurance plans beneficial prior to travel.  When we visit our tour company partners and trial some of their tours we want to be fully protected as well.
Have questions about insurance – or any other travel-related topic? I’d love to sit down with you in person or over the phone and get to know you and your travel plans better. To get in touch, just click here.

About the Author:

Laurie Johnson is travel writer, agent, and founder of Pura Vida Vacations. She finds her inspirations from travelling of the beaten path, meeting the locals, and sharing her travel stories, reviews, and tips with her readers.

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