In the wake of Covid: what you need to know before buying travel insurance
Know what’s covered
Generally speaking, travel insurance covers unforeseen events like illness in the family, job loss, natural disasters, flight cancellations, and interruptions. It can also apply in cases of transportation strikes, terrorist attacks, or when a travel provider goes bankrupt. Most policies also include medical coverage, which is especially useful when traveling abroad where your regular health insurance may not cover you.
Insure nonrefundable expenses
Travel insurance is designed to protect expenses that are nonrefundable. This includes things like nonrefundable Airbnb reservations or the cost of a cruise. If your hotel is refundable and you can get credit for your flights, you may not need travel insurance.
Buy close to booking
Travel insurers recommend buying travel insurance soon after making your travel plans to have the largest coverage window. This is because a lot can happen between booking a trip and actually going on it. Purchasing travel insurance 10 to 14 days from your first trip payment can also entitle you to early purchase benefits, such as a waiver for pre-existing medical conditions that impact travel. Be sure to read the policy details carefully, as not all plans have this waiver.
Hedge against the weather
Weather disruptions can be unpredictable, but travel insurance can help protect against them. For example, if you’re traveling during hurricane season, buying insurance immediately after booking can provide coverage in case your destination is evacuated. Similarly, if you have nonrefundable ski lift tickets and a storm prevents you from reaching the resort, you may be able to claim the unused portion of your pass.
Pick up the phone
Travel insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product, so it’s important to call an insurer or a travel insurance marketplace helpline to get accurate advice for your specific concerns. Not all policies cover everything, and it’s best to clarify any doubts or questions directly with an insurance professional.
Travel insurance does not cover ‘unpleasantries’
Standard travel insurance typically does not cover a change of heart or personal preferences. If you decide not to go on a trip due to personal reasons, your insurance most likely won’t reimburse you. However, there are specialized policies available, such as Cancel For Any Reason (C.F.A.R.) coverage, that can cover a change of heart. These policies usually reimburse a percentage of your costs and must be purchased within a specific timeframe.
If you need to make a claim, it’s important to keep a paper trail of documentation. This can include receipts, flight cancellation notices, hotel room requirements, or medical documentation. Having proper proof will help support your claim and increase the chances of reimbursement.
Resist pressure to buy flight insurance
When purchasing airline tickets online, airlines often offer their own travel insurance, but it’s important to consider other options. Compare prices and coverage from different providers before making a decision. The insurance offered by the airline may not always be the best value for your money.