The Best Travel Insurance

There are many solid reasons to buy travel insurance – lost luggage that is poorly reimbursed by a carrier, illness that requires transportation back home, an emergency evacuation, a delay that costs you for a hotel and meals, a broken leg a week before departure, medical costs not covered by your usual insurance, or even a Nook stolen from you on the plane as happened to me! We have been able to recoup losses and expenses from our travel insurance that have convinced us to never travel abroad without it.

Years ago we started covering our travels by getting insurance because of elderly sick parents. There was no telling if we would have to fly back to attend to their needs.

Some travel insurance companies have come and gone but there are some very solid A or A+ companies that are excellent. My go-to online agent is Their customer service is exemplary, their website is easy and gives all the possible information needed and the process takes minutes. Put in your trip and personal information and the next screen will show you a long list of plans and prices. Click the compare boxes of the plans you want to see. You will have a side by side comparison of all the benefits of the plans you have chosen. If you need more information about any item, you can click on it and another small screen will give you details.

You need to think very carefully about what kind of coverage you need. Do you want to be covered for financial default of a tour company? Are you concerned about H1N1 coverage (very complicated by the way – call insuremytrip for advice)? Do you need excess coverage for your luggage? Is there a pre-existing medical condition that you need covered? Most plans require payment within 14-21 days of your first deposit on a trip to kick a pre-existing condition waiver into effect. Read the small print.

American Express Global Travel Shield allows refunds up to the date of departure, which I haven’t found in any other policy. That could be important if your trip is fully refundable and you change your mind about the trip. Most companies keep your money even if you cancel your trip. My other favorite company is TravelEx.

Each trip may require different coverage. Maybe you want coverage for cancellation for any reason. It is expensive, but available in some cases.

Caveat: I have never, ever found coverage from a tour company or cruise line that was as comprehensive as policies available from travel insurance companies. The coverage available from cruise lines and tour operators usually is more expensive for less coverage. It is generally a very bad idea. Furthermore, if your cruise line or tour company goes into financial default, will their coverage hold up? Possibly but not necessarily. You want to have that safeguard in place. Remember Renaissance Cruises stranding their passengers when they went out of business in 2001? You want your costs and the remainder of your cruise paid back to you.

The cost of travel insurance is something we just budget into our total cost of trips. I am currently caught without, since I normally don’t buy insurance for an inexpensive domestic trip. It would have cost me $35 to insure this weekend’s trip. I may not be able to go and will lose about $450 in non-refundable costs that would have been covered. It might be a costly lesson.

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