International Travel Insurance

Tips for travelers

You've saved for years and already spent thousands of dollars on your dream vacation; do you really have to spend more on travel insurance? You might want to give it some thought.

According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, half of U.S. travelers heading to another country will experience a health problem. You already have medical coverage, so is it necessary to pay for more?

Many insurance companies provide inadequate travel medical insurance or none at all. If a serious medical emergency occurs requiring international evacuation and air ambulance, you can end up paying over $90,000 - that's reason enough to buy the coverage.

Coverage can also be obtained for vacation and trip cancellation, travel interruptions and delays, lost baggage, emergency medical and health expenses (including replacement prescriptions), necessary help during an emergency security situation, and evacuation due to inclement weather.

Your emergency travel insurance service provider needs to be available 24 hours a day and multilingual coverage should be available. Keep in mind that cancellation type insurance coverage is different than medical insurance coverage. Oftentimes sold as part of a total package, they are actually separate types of coverage, so make sure you understand what you are buying.

Some plans allow related children under age 16 to be covered at no additional charge under an adult's policy. Student coverage is available as well, providing them access to critical services when they are away from home. Other options include buying travel insurance for a one-time trip, or if you travel more frequently, buying coverage for an entire year.

Unfortunately, today's environment has forced carriers to cover acts of terrorism under the accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) policy. Some plans require an additional premium payment for a Terrorism Rider. War is usually excluded, but War Risk AD&D insurance is available at a high cost. Completion of a special application with details about your trip itinerary and activities is required.

So what is the additional cost? That depends on a number of things; almost too many to get a good idea without getting very specific. Factors include the particulars of the type of coverage you want, the cost of the trip, the age of the traveler, the place of departure and destination, the length of the trip, the lifetime maximum benefit (anywhere from $50,000 to $2,000,000), the amount of coverage, and the amount of the deductible (from $0 to $2,500 or more).

Many websites allow you to submit each variable of your trip and will instantly provide quotes on each type of coverage offered. This method of research is very slick. As an example, using one of these sites we entered: $6,000 for total cost of trip, $100,000 coverage for three people aged 12, 35 and 45, leaving from Massachusetts and traveling to South America via air, for 14 days. Quotes were returned from $30 to $450. As you can see, you need to figure out what type of coverage you want, and then just start plugging in the numbers. It's actually kind of fun!

By Sandi Faist