When you buy a plane ticket or book a tour, there’s usually an option for some kind of flight/trip insurance. Is it worth buying? Let’s look at the different kinds of insurances you can buy for your trip.
TRIP CANCELLATION INSURANCE
With today’s volatile airline industry, I would suggest trip cancellation insurance just in case your airline goes bust or stops doing business. As this week has shown, three airlines went out of business almost without any warning leaving hundreds of passengers without any recourse. Trip cancellation insurance can also cover reimburse you for other causes too: like an illness, you lost your job, someone died in your family. Make sure before buying any kind of trip cancellation insurance, that you read the terms and conditions carefully and make sure you know what is covered and what is not. If you don’t understand the policy, don’t buy it. Call the insurer and get your questions answered.
Trip cancellation insurance will often cover lost or delayed baggage, delayed flights and other contingencies. The price of these policies usually is either based on the amount of your trip or the length or your trip or both.
When travelling to strike prone Italy, having travel insurance of this type could also help in getting home should a transport strike in Italy ground your flight home.
When you buy your ticket, often with your credit card, you are entitled to flight insurance should something (Heaven forbid!) happen on your flight – such as a plane crash. When you use your credit card to purchase a plane ticket, the flight insurance is usually included free. If your credit card doesn’t offer it, there’s the option of buying it from a number of different insurers. Whether you need this insurance is up to you. While I don’t think that it is healthy to dwell on the negative, if you don’t have any personal insurance that would provide for your family in the case of an accident (knock on wood!), consider purchasing some flight insurance just in case.
TRAVEL MEDICAL INSURANCE
This insurance I never leave home without. Travel medical insurance is an insurance that you buy to help cover the costs of medical treatment overseas. Your private health insurer may not cover your medical costs overseas. If they do, they probably require that you pay first, and then they’ll reimburse you later. And we all know how insurance companies work – it’s a lot harder to get money from them after the fact.
Travel medical insurance takes the guess work out of it. Sometimes travel medical policies are coupled with your trip cancellation insurance, but not always. Make sure you read the policy carefully to see what is covered. If you live in the United States, reciprocal health insurance agreements do not exists between the United States and many countries, and you’ll be required to pay for medical costs out of pocket. Travel medical insurance plans will help cover those unexpected emergencies, especially if you have to be flown back to your home country because of some serious illness. Most plans will work with hospitals in foreign countries so that you pay nothing at the time of treatment, and the insurance company will pay them for you. Some travel medical policies require prepayment on your part or a portion of the costs with reimbursement later. Some have a co-pay style arrangement, where you pay a small fee to the hospital with the rest paid to the hospital later.
As with any travel medical insurance policy, you MUST call the insurance company BEFORE you head to the hospital, where possible. If you’ve been hit by a car or you fall off a cliff and are unconscious or stopping to call them could be a life or death incident, then most policies have a contingency for such events. But if you have an ear infection, make sure you call the insurance company first. They may have a preferred provider that they will wish you to see which will help to facilitate payment and claims.
Take note the clause in your travel medical insurance policy about pre-existing conditions. Most policies of this type will not cover any pre-existing conditions if you have any pre-existing medical condition that might flare up, see if you can purchase a rider to cover those contingencies.
As with any of the insurances mentioned above, it’s important to read the policies in great detail to find out what is covered, how to file a claim, and what to do if you actually need the insurance. Keep copies of the policies with you when you travel in case you need to refer to them – they will have valuable information such as your policy number and any phone numbers you may need to call.