What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a short-term insurance intended to provide cover against travel-related expenses and emergencies. This includes lost luggage, trip cancelation, medical expenses and other losses that can be incurred while someone is traveling, within one’s country or internationally. Travel insurance can be obtained at the booking time for the purpose of covering the duration of that trip or a ‘multi-trip’ policy that can cover several trips within a specified time.
Reason for travel insurance
Visiting a different country can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it can become expensive and unpleasant in case a traveler falls sick or is subjected to injury that requires medical evacuation. Though medical care can be available in most countries, it can be very expensive in most parts of the world like the USA. Clinics and hospitals in some countries refuse to treat patients who fall ill and lack adequate travel insurance. Such patients could face years paying off debts resulting from the high cost of treatment in foreign countries. Therefore, many travelers purchase international travel insurance in order to avoid staggering costs that might result from sickness or injury from a trip.
Types of travel insurance
Most travel insurance policies bundle the following three coverages into a comprehensive policy
- Medical insurance and medical evacuation coverage in case a traveler falls ill or is injured while traveling
- Financial reimbursement in case of trip cancelation, delay, baggage loss, delay and interruption in situations arising from conditions like bad weather or illness
The most common risks covered by travel insurance include
- Visitor health insurance
- Trip interruption
- Trip cancellation
- Emergency evacuation
- Medical emergency (sickness or accident)
- Return of a minor
- Overseas funeral expenses
- Accidental death, injury or disablement benefit
- Travel delays due to weather
- Delayed baggage
- Lost, damaged, or stolen baggage, travel documents or personal effects
Obtaining a travel insurance
Before obtaining a travel insurance, a traveler should research personal needs and verify limitations, terms, conditions, exclusions and requirements of the travel insurance policy before leaving the country.
When assessing a travel insurance plan, a traveler should ask many questions to ensure the plan is convenient for their travel. The traveler should ask the company to thoroughly explain the limitations, restrictions and definition of any pre-existing conditions. The traveler must obtain a written agreement that their pre-existing medical condition has been covered. It is the traveler’s responsibility to understand fully the terms of the insurance policy. The traveler should provide information that is complete and accurate. Travelers should also compare companies, benefits, prices, and policy coverage to identify travel insurance that meets personal needs. Expensive trips may need to be covered using a comprehensive travel insurance policy while business travelers may need to cover risks such as loss of baggage or medical insurance for traveling overseas.
Before obtaining travel insurance, it is crucial for travelers to check the country’s travel advice and advisories shortly before leaving. In case a travel advisory is issued for the traveler’s destination, it may affect the travel insurance or cause trip cancelations. Travelers must fully understand policy terms and conditions regarding travel advice and advisories from the government. Some insurance companies cannot honor claims made for injuries suffered in a destination for which travel advisory were issued.