How to buy travel insurance!

How to purchase travel insurance - without stress

Revised November 2022

Table of Contents

 “Where do I start?” you ask yourself when trying to figure out what travel insurance you need.

Quickly followed by “How much will my travel insurance cost me?”

Who wouldn’t get overwhelmed trying to figure out what travel insurance is right for you? There seems to be so many components it’s hard to figure out what’s necessary and what’s over-kill. 

No one wants to NOT be protected in case of an emergency but it’s guaranteed you don’t want to spend any more than you have to.

Believe me, you’re not alone.

Don’t buy yet – let’s create a paint by number list just for you.

If you’re anything like me you would like a list of what you need, what travel insurance is available, and what’s not necessary — almost like a paint by number kit. Follow the numbers, fill in the blanks and voila — you have travel insurance!

Oh, and at a price that seems reasonable. Is that too much to ask for

Get your pen and paper ready — you’re going to start creating a list specific to your travels.

Medical Insurance:

Do you have any idea how expensive it is if you fall ill or have an accident when traveling?  It’s not cheap. 

We’ve all heard horror stories of people having accidents in a foreign country without medical insurance and their families scrambling trying to figure out how to pay for it. Don’t let that be you — your family will thank you.

I know medical insurance seems to get more expensive the older you get but don’t go anywhere without it. Even if this is only insurance you get — make sure you have it.

If this is something you think you don’t need check with the country you’re traveling to because some countries won’t even let you enter without medical insurance.

Definitely put medical insurance on your list.

Emergency Medical Evacuation

This is pretty self-explanatory but it basically means that if you have a medical emergency they will get you to the closest hospital that fits your needs. Or even more important – your insurance should cover expenses to send youth the hospital of YOUR CHOOSING – preferably close to home.

It may cover you to be transported to a medical facility near your home and possibly pay for a family member to be with you.

If your remains need to be sent home because of an unfortunate demise, this type of insurance should cover it. Don’t assume this is covered just because you have travel insurance. Not a comfortable subject but needs to be mentioned. Read more about what happens if you die while traveling. 

Personal preference – up to you whether this gets placed on your list. 

Trip Cancellation or Interruption

Typically basic medical insurance does not cover this but what if you get sick or something happens that prevents you from going on your trip — trip cancellation should cover it.

The cost for this insurance will be determined by what your trip costs, the type of trip you are taking and good news – it can start the day you purchase it — not when you leave home. 

If you do purchase trip cancellation or interruption insurance and your flight is canceled – your covered. If you miss a connection, travel insurance can pay for a hotel and a new flight.

What if there’s an emergency at home and you have to get back right away? Interruption coverage can help cover the cost of your return fare and reimburse you for the unused portion of your trip.

Personal preference – up to you whether this gets placed on your list

Lost Baggage or Delayed Baggage

Is this really a concern to you if you have a carry-on with meds and other necessities and there’s nothing really important in your checked luggage? 

Maybe not, but if you have a formal gown for a special event in your luggage it might prove costly if it goes missing. Choose wisely. 

If your luggage is an expensive brand and losing it will cost you a great deal then maybe it’s worth having lost baggage insurance. It’s a personal preference based on need.

Personal preference – up to you whether this gets placed on your list.

Is your destination on the “do not travel” list?

Let’s face it – some countries are a tiny bit more dangerous than others.

Depending on your destination the risks to you might be higher than others and your insurance company may be a tad reluctant to work with you.

Check it out before you leave but that sends me a message that insurance is definitely needed – however you can manage it. 

Some country’s medical costs can go thru the roof. Canadians traveling into the US without proper medical insurance have faced this problem to their detriment, forcing them to go into debt trying to pay the bills. You don’t want that do you?

How are you traveling? Really, does it matter?

What makes a difference is if a portion of your trip is flying and another is a cruise.  Do you get coverage for each portion separately or lump it all together?

If there’s a problem with the cruise ship the cruise line will probably give you credit towards another cruise.  They won’t cover flights if you booked them separately. 

Once again, when booking with the cruise line and if using their insurance you’ll use the list you are writing now to ask your questions.

Traveling alone or in a group? Costs may differ.

If you’re traveling in a group it’s possible to get group travel insurance at a discount if you purchase it together. Usually, these are sold to groups of 10 or more.

Buying just for yourself or traveling companions? – add to your list.

What dangerous stunt are you going to perform?

Just how reckless are you going to be on this vacation you’re planning? If you deliberately put your life in danger you won’t be covered. Straight forward – no argument.

So think before you sign up for a skydiving experience or challenge your buddy to rock climb the face of the nearest mountain – you probably won’t be covered.

If you plan on a high risk event check in advance with your insurance agent and be prepared – there may be an extra cost if they insure you.

What seems normal to you may be considered high risk to others – think about it before you jump out of that airplane without a buddy.

Just how risky are you? That will make a difference as to whether you add a “life in danger” activity to your list. 🙂

Traveling with the Royal Crown Jewels?

It’s surprising how much the costs add up if you lose clothing, cameras, computer, sports equipment and anything else you decide its necessary to take with you.

Those expensive electronics might get stolen or damaged even though you may think they won’t.

What actually is in your suitcase? Anything important or just a few t-shirts and jeans?

Can you afford to replace them yourself? This will make a difference whether it’s on your list.

How Healthy are you?

Let’s get this out of the way first – pre-existing conditions.

Yes, it’s true some medical conditions aren’t covered. If you have surgery planned in the near future, or have recently been in the hospital or have a serious illness you may have a problem.

But – not all pre-existing conditions prevent you from obtaining coverage. You may be surprised to learn your pre-existing condition is covered with no issues.

Don’t hide your medical situation – it will just come back and haunt you if you have a problem.  Plus the stress of worry of getting caught will further aggravate your situation.

If you’re turned down for your medical situation you can probably still get coverage for everything else you want. It’s not all doom and gloom.

Don’t forget – update your list

How many trips will you be taking this year?

Are you a traveler extraordinaire?

Is this a one shot deal or will you be traveling more in the next year?

Different policies for different folks.

a.  Single trip travel insurance. These plans are for one trip and most likely won’t offer any extensions and is paid for in advance of the trip.

b.  Annual travel insurance. If you travel frequently an annual insurance policy covers you for every trip taken during the year. Make sure you discuss limitations with your agent. Typically, this insurance is purchased in 3, 6 or 12 month segments.

c.  Long term travel insurance. How long are you traveling for – a year or more? This should cover you. This is usually paid for on a monthly basis.

d.  International travel insurance. Traveling out of the country is different than staying within your home country. That’s why your agent will need to know your destination if you’re crossing international borders.

Information overload? Not anymore!

Remember how you felt at the beginning of this exercise – frustrated and overwhelmed?

You won’t be feeling that way now because you know what you want travel insurance coverage for.

Go to your list and compile the questions that relate to your type of travel, where you’re going and what coverage you want.

Now get on the phone, call three agents to compare different travel insurance policies available.

Think carefully and honestly about each item before you turn any coverage down. You can now make an informed decision and purchase the necessary travel you need for your next adventure, no more – no less. 

It’s pretty comfortable getting on a plane knowing whatever disaster strikes on your journey you’re covered – with adequate travel insurance! 

At the end of the day, it’s all about staying safe and enjoying your trip – bon voyage.