posted on 04/11/2013 via
Timing is Important - Buy Travel Insurance Early
While you can buy travel insurance right up until the day before you leave, you should not wait. Once a traveler makes their first payment for a trip, whether it be the airfare, the lodging, the cruise, or tour, that date becomes the initial trip deposit date.
Why is that important?
The initial trip deposit date starts the clock, so to speak, and many travel insurance providers require travelers to purchase their insurance within a certain number of days of making that initial trip deposit. In fact, this is one of the ways many traveler’s insurance claims are denied - simply because they purchased their travel insurance too late.
Always try to buy your travel insurance as soon as you make the first trip payment.
Use a Comparison Tool to Get the Best Price
There are many ways you’ll get offered travel insurance - from your travel agent, through the online booking engines, and even directly from tour companies - but you should always avoid these plans.
Why is that?
It’s because the plans are one-size-fits-all plans that don’t really fit anyone’s needs. The plans are also especially designed to be cheap (and enticing) but not actually provide the coverage a traveler needs (so they never have to pay out).
The best way to purchase travel insurance is through an independent comparison site that lets you compare many plans from many providers, read the policy details, and price-shop for the coverage you need.
What to Look for in a Travel Insurance Plan
As a traveling baby boomer, the following are what you want to look for in a travel insurance plan:
1. Emergency medical and medical evacuation/repatriation. Medical care is expensive everywhere these days, and you don’t want to be stuck without coverage.* Evacuation coverage provides medically necessary evacuations if you need to seek medical care elsewhere. Repatriation coverage pays for the costs to return your body home should you die on your trip. It’s not a pleasant thought, but leaving your family to cope with the details and pay tens of thousands of dollars it’s pleasant either.
2. Coverage for pre-existing conditions. Many policies cover this, but it’s important to understand how it’s defined by travel insurance. As defined by most travel insurance
companies, a pre-existing condition is any injury, illness, disease or other medical
condition that occurs prior to the travel plan’s effective date and for which you
had symptoms and sought diagnosis, medical treatment, and/or new prescription
medications or a change in your current prescription.
3. Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. If you’re a retired baby boomer,
you may think you don’t need this coverage, but there are all kinds of reasons that
travelers have to cancel or abandon their trips. People get sick, natural disasters strike,
cars crash, terrorists attack, and travelers have to cancel their trips. Trip cancellation
reimburses those non-refundable trip costs as long as you cancel for a reason covered
in the plan. If you’re on your trip and suddenly need to return home, trip interruption
coverage will get you there and even bring you back after the emergency is handled.
4. Coverage for lost or delayed baggage. This coverage reimburses you a certain
amount for the value of lost, stolen, or damaged bags and the personal effects
and clothing inside the bag. It’s not a lot of coverage and it comes with some strict
exclusions, but if you lost everything you packed, it will help you get back to your trip.
5. Coverage for financial default. When a tour operator, cruise line, or other travel
supplier goes into default, they sometimes suspend operations and they don’t usually
reimburse travelers for their investment. This coverage provides reimbursement for prepaid trip costs in the event a travel supplier ceases business operations.
* Some Medicare supplement plans offer a little emergency medical coverage, but Medicare itself does not. Check the coverage limits and determine if they are enough if you need medical care.
Steps to Make Sure your Claim Gets Paid
All travel insurance plans come with a free review period in which you can make changes to the plan or cancel the plan entirely (for a refund). You shouldn’t wait to do the following steps because, of course, timing is important.
1. Read the travel insurance plan details, paying close attention to the exclusions.
Unfortunately, many travelers read ‘trip cancellation’ in the list of coverages and think
they are covered if they have to cancel their trip no matter what the reason. Just like any
other insurance plan, travel insurance plans have exclusions and they list them in their
plan documents. Read them carefully.
2. Check the coverage limits, paying close attention to the maximum they will pay for any claim. You want to be sure you have the coverage you need for the claim you may
have to make. Book a Mediterranean cruise for $6,000? Make sure the trip cancellation
maximum covers that amount plus your other non-refundable expenses like airfare.
3. Look for optional riders to cover special circumstances. Many travel insurance plans
have extra coverage for special situations like pre-existing medical conditions. If the
base travel insurance plan doesn’t have all the coverage you need - look for the optional
riders that can fill in the gaps.
Damian Tysdal founded Travel Insurance Review in 2006 on the belief that travel insurance should be easier to understand. See a review of senior travel insurance and use our travel insurance comparison tool to choose the best travel insurance for your next baby boomer trip.