How to Find the Best Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance

When purchasing travel insurance, it is essential to choose a policy that meets your needs. This may include buying a basic plan or adding specialized coverage such as CFAR upgrades, pre-existing condition waivers and additional medical benefits.

Other considerations are trip length and whether you need a specialized policy for travel to specific destinations, such as a cruise or risky activities like mountain climbing. CNBC Select has some tips to help you find the best travel insurance for your next vacation.

Get a Quote

A good travel insurance policy can help mitigate the risk of expensive, unexpected incidents that can arise while you are away from home. However, not all policies are created equal. The best ones offer comprehensive coverage and a great customer experience — before, during, and after your trip.

Average travel insurance premiums are between 4 and 8 percent of a trip’s prepaid, non-refundable costs. Some companies, such as Squaremouth, have online marketplaces where travelers can easily compare policies and prices at once based on their specific trip details.

When shopping for a plan, be sure to consider any pre-existing medical conditions you have that may not be covered. Some policies have look-back periods of 60, 90 or 180 days before you bought the policy in which any health issues that flare up could result in a claim denial. Some insurers also exclude certain types of activities from coverage or limit benefits for high-risk trips or activities, such as mountain climbing.

Do Your Research

There are a number of different travel insurance policies available. Depending on your trip, you may want comprehensive coverage that covers flight mishaps and lost luggage as well as medical needs. You may prefer more specific coverage for a particular type of trip, such as the Berkshire Hathaway Air Care plan that only protects flights (and not other things like hotel reservations and nonrefundable activities). You can also find specific types of travel insurance for a variety of situations, such as digital nomads who want to buy medical-only coverage.

Some plans include additional benefits such as cancellation for any reason, and others offer upgrades you can purchase separately. To get the best possible deal, comparison shopping is essential, and insurance marketplaces such as Squaremouth make the process easier by allowing you to compare policies from more than 20 insurers using one form. It’s also worth checking if your credit card offers any travel protection benefits, as many major cards provide reimbursement for things like rental car collision damage, trip interruptions and cancellations and even lost luggage.

Read the Policy

In order to understand what you are purchasing, and in case you need to file a claim, it is important to read the entire policy. While this can be tedious, it will help you make the best decision for your specific needs. For example, you will want to read the exclusions section, as well as the definitions and coverage sections.

Most policies will allow you to cancel for a variety of reasons, however some exclude certain reasons, like pre-existing medical conditions or travel to a country with political or civil unrest. If you are concerned about these types of risks, there are many travel insurance companies that offer add-ons or riders for additional protection.

Also, some plans include concierge services that can help you book restaurant and tee time reservations, as well as provide local information. Some even have special coverage for cruises. In addition, most (but not all) policies have a free look period where you can return the plan for a refund if it does not meet your needs.

Make the Decision

Ultimately, the decision whether or not to purchase travel insurance comes down to how confident you feel about your trip plans. Those who are very risk-tolerant might want to skip it, while those with a lot at stake may decide to buy a policy for peace of mind. A good place to start is with a conversation with a travel agent or an online insurance aggregator website.

Generally, you can expect a policy to cost between 4 and 8 percent of your trip’s prepaid, non-refundable costs. But that doesn’t mean all policies are created equal. Any quote that is significantly lower should raise red flags, as well as any policy that sounds too good to be true. For example, if you’re planning a cruise, be wary of any “cancel for any reason” coverage that is advertised at less than 10 percent. These kinds of policies are notorious for denying claims. This is why it’s always a smart idea to shop around and compare coverages.

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