Who uses travel insurance?
Any traveler could use travel insurance. That’s not to say everyone needs it, but every traveler and every trip type has an element of risk.
Many people only think international travelers or safari adventurers can benefits from travel insurance. The truth is, most policies are sold to everyday travelers going on vacation. Often, the trip isn’t even abroad, but a domestic trip with a high cost that the traveler wants to protect.
How does travel insurance work?
With any trip, there are two main things to consider. 1) The cost of the trip, and 2) your health while on the trip.
If you are going to Europe for a week or two, you would probably focus on insurance to cover the cost of the trip. This can insure against canceled trips, missed flights, lost luggage, etc. This is generally referred to as a “package policy”, or simply trip insurance.
If you are going to Tibet for a 3 month retreat, you would want your insurance to cover emergency medical expenses while traveling. This can insure against accidents, hospital stays, medical evacuation, etc. This is called travel medical, or international medical insurance.
Why don’t I ever hear about travel insurance?
In the US, roughly 30% of travelers purchase travel insurance (based on 2006 data). In Europe, Canada, Australia, etc., up to 90% of travelers purchase a travel insurance policy. This may be due to a cultural difference where we in the States believe our health will be taken care of.
Should I buy travel insurance through my travel agency?
No. If you live in the States and purchased travel insurance for the first time, it may have been sold as an add-on to a travel package purchased through a travel agency. Even Expedia.com offers the “up-sell” while you go through the check-out process. While these plans do provide some coverage, it is always better to purchase insurance from an independent company.
You have probably noticed the popularity of these plans with your travel agent…usually a good supply of brochures and they never forget to mention it. Much like the insurance offered at auto rental companies, this added insurance is very profitable and usually not worth it. Go directly to a travel insurance company.