Mistakes People Make When Buying Travel Insurance

Trips don’t always go as planned. In the age of COVID-19, we know this all too well.

As the pandemic continues to disrupt and cancel vacations, many people are taking steps to try to minimize the challenges of changed travel plans. The data suggests the pandemic has prompted more Americans to buy travel insurance — or at least consider it.

But with so many newbie travel insurance purchases, missteps inevitably happen. We asked experts to share common mistakes people make when buying travel insurance, along with their tips for maximizing coverage and minimizing costs.

Too long to buy it

“Travel insurance is designed to cover unforeseen and unexpected events,” said Megan Moncrief, chief marketing officer of travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth. “So it’s important to buy a policy before something happens that could impact your trip.”

For example, she says, you might be concerned about hurricanes if you’ve booked a Caribbean cruise in early September. “It would be important to purchase the plan before the weather event — namely, before a storm is named,” Moncrief explained.

The sooner you buy your travel insurance, the more you will be protected.

“It’s best to purchase travel insurance right after your initial security deposit, like when you book your flights or hotel stay,” said Jeff Rolander, claims director at insurance startup Faye. travel. “In general, to access the full range of benefits from your policy, you must purchase travel protection within 14 days of your initial travel deposit.”

Not checking your credit card benefits

“The biggest mistake is buying insurance you don’t need or overbuying coverage,” said money and budgeting specialist Andrea Woroch. She noted, for example, that many people don’t realize that car rental insurance is often included with your auto insurance policy or credit card.

Check your credit card information to see if there are any travel insurance benefits. If you book your trip with this card, you will be entitled to these benefits and you will not need to purchase a separate travel insurance policy.

“It is important to understand what type of coverage a credit card offers, which may include delayed baggage, lost/damaged baggage, trip delay, cancellation or interruption, medical treatment or evacuation, accident travel insurance and/or rental card insurance,” Woroch said.

If you travel frequently but have a credit card that doesn’t offer travel insurance, consider considering a new card to help lower insurance costs. Woroch suggested comparing travel credit cards on sites like CardRates.com.

She pointed to the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, which includes trip cancellation and interruption insurance up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip (in addition to trip delay insurance, baggage delay insurance , lost luggage insurance, rental car insurance and travel accident insurance) . Woroch noted that the Southwest Rapid Rewards Plus credit card offers similar benefits.

“You may even have travel insurance through various memberships without realizing it,” she said. “For example, the AAA Premier Membership Plan offers robust travel coverage that includes up to $1,500 in trip interruption or delay and up to $500 in lost baggage coverage.”

Kittiphan Teerawattanakul/EyeEm via Getty Images

Find out about the benefits offered by your credit card before purchasing travel insurance.

Buy the wrong font for your needs

Not all travel insurance policies are suitable for all situations.

“When shopping for travel insurance, it’s important that travelers have a good idea of ​​the specific concerns they have about their trip and the type of coverage they’re looking for,” Moncrief said. “Especially post-pandemic, we are seeing a new group of travel insurance consumers who are not as familiar with the product.”

Indeed, taking out travel insurance requires thought and research. Before paying high prices, think about what you’re doing that doesn’t need to be covered, and consider calling a professional if you’re still unsure.

Slip on the fine print

“Another big mistake is not knowing what’s covered by the travel insurance you buy, because most people don’t read the fine print,” Woroch said. “So do your homework and research the details – otherwise you might think you’re getting something you’re not.”

Remember that travel insurance is like other forms of insurance, so it doesn’t cover everything and anything.

“Read your plan document when purchasing travel insurance,” said Angela Borden, product marketing strategist at travel insurance company Seven Corners. You’ll have “a better understanding of your benefits, which can take some of the frustration out of going to file a claim and realizing your situation isn’t covered,” she said. And “you’ll know what steps you need to take, like filing a claim within a certain timeframe.”

Pay more than necessary

The correlation between price and value exists in the world of insurance, but that doesn’t mean everyone should pay top dollar for their travel insurance.

“Once you’ve found the policies that provide adequate coverage, travelers shouldn’t shy away from the cheapest option,” Moncrief said. “The premium is based on travel factors such as length of travel, number of travelers and their age – it is not an indicator of the supplier’s reputation or how easily their claims process is handled. “

“Generally, if a traveler is looking to protect the cost of their trip with a cancellation policy, they should expect to pay between 4 and 10 percent of that cost,” she continued. “Most travel insurance policies are comprehensive and include several benefits in addition to trip cancellation coverage. Travelers who don’t have non-reimbursable expenses, or aren’t concerned about insuring their expenses, may find a much more affordable plan with helpful benefits such as emergency medical and evacuation, delays and baggage.

Make sure you understand what you can and cannot file a claim for on your travel insurance policy before purchasing your plan.

10,000 Hours via Getty Images

Make sure you understand what you can and cannot file a claim for on your travel insurance policy before purchasing your plan.

Misunderstanding of the complaints process

“The most common mistake we see today has less to do with buying a plan, and more to do with how to use their plan, especially in the claims process,” Moncrief said. “Travel insurance is designed to make a traveler whole, reimbursing unexpected expenses incurred throughout their trip.”

For example, travelers who encounter problems or inconveniences while traveling may be offered vouchers or credits from suppliers, such as the airline. But that can complicate things.

“In order to be eligible for financial reimbursement from their policy, [the traveler] must not have received refunds, credits or vouchers from their travel provider,” Moncrief noted, stressing the importance of understanding their coverage and what will be needed in the claims process.

“Most travel insurance policies come with a ‘money back guarantee’ period, during which a traveler can cancel their policy for a refund if they review its terms and are unhappy with their plan. “, she said. “All policies also come with 24-hour emergency assistance while travelling. In the event that they need to use their policy, we recommend that they contact this helpline immediately, as they can guide them through their eligible benefits and can often avoid the claims process.

Forget medical coverage

“Many international travelers are unaware that their primary health insurance does not cover overseas,” Moncrief noted.

For this reason, it’s worth considering a comprehensive plan that includes travel medical insurance, in addition to coverage for things like lost luggage and trip cancellation or disruption.

“Most Americans, when they think of travel insurance, they think and [are] concerned about protecting their trip, when in fact the greatest financial risk they may face is unexpected injury, illness and/or medical evacuation during their trip,” said Omar Kaywan, co-founder and director of growth at Goose Insurance. “The biggest mistake consumers make is not buying travel medical care and/or buying travel medical care that doesn’t meet their needs.”

He noted that most policies limit pre-existing medical conditions and may have specific exclusions. So if you have a pre-existing condition, be sure to double-check the policy wording before making a purchase. The same applies if you plan to participate in certain sports or activities.

“Some policies exclude participation in sports such as scuba diving, caving, bungee jumping or any other type [of] team sports, so consumers planning to participate in sports activities should review the wording of the policy prior to purchase,” Kaywan said. “We’ve seen too many mistakes in buying a policy for a ski holiday that you don’t have cover for.”

Pay attention to the exclusions for specific destinations and the rules in force on the ground.

“If you are traveling internationally, please review the requirements of the country you are visiting to ensure your travel medical policy is sufficient,” Kaywan warned. “As COVID always is [in] among us, many countries require coverage for medical care and/or quarantine costs.

Do not call customer service

“When you buy from a travel insurance company, you’re working with licensed insurance agents who can answer all your questions and help you choose the best coverage for you,” Borden noted.

Good insurers should also be able to help you after you take out a policy and in case you need to file a claim. Look for companies with good customer service that allows you to communicate with humans, not just bots.

“Avoid mistakes by simply calling your travel insurance provider before travel and asking them for more information about your claim,” Rolander said. “If you can’t reach them or get clear answers to your questions, that’s a red flag that you should check with other providers to cover your trip.”

He noted that the call will help you learn more about inconvenient travel scenarios that may qualify for a refund — like accidental damage to a vacation rental (broken lamp, wine stain on carpet, stove fire ), tickets for activities you can no longer attend, flight delays and cancellations (and related expenses like food or hotels), or even baggage delays.

About George Dailey

Check Also

What the Crown got wrong about King Charles III

In Season 2 of “The Crown,” we are introduced to Prince Charles as a young …