How to Get Travel Insurance

Three Parts:Deciding to Buy Travel InsuranceChoosing a Travel Insurance TypeBuying Travel Insurance

Travel insurance protects you from financial losses before and during a trip away from home by covering you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, loss of baggage, and/or medical emergencies. With everything that can go wrong when you're traveling, from stolen luggage and allergic reactions to cancellation of your return flight and even natural disasters, you may want to ensure you have sufficient travel insurance before you leave home. The wide variety of travel insurance policies available to travelers can be confusing, so take time to research the different types so that you can find the policy that best fits your needs.

Part 1
Deciding to Buy Travel Insurance

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    Know what most travel insurance covers. Travel insurance usually covers things like lost baggage, accidents, illness, medical treatment, missed or cancelled transportation or events, theft, political upheaval, evacuations, and returning your remains home if you die while traveling. Like all insurance, travel insurance is for your peace of mind. Odds are you won't need it, but if you do, you'll be glad to have it. Consider your potential losses from these events and weigh that against the cost of travel insurance before deciding to buy coverage.[1]
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    Check your current insurance coverage. Read your current health and life insurance policies and credit card agreements before deciding which types of insurance coverage you need. Depending on the destination of your trip, your medical insurance may cover medical expenses, while credit card insurance may cover canceled tickets that were purchased on the card.
    • Most Medicare plans don't cover international expenses like treatment in a foreign hospital or medical evacuations. However, some other health insurance plans may cover part of your foreign medical expenses. Check with your insurer to see if your plan offers this coverage. If not, you will want to buy medical travel insurance.
    • Call your health insurance provider and tell them where you are traveling. They will be able to tell you what is covered and what isn't. If your plan covers part of the expense, it may be worth it to buy additional insurance to cover the rest.
    • Credit card companies may cover some lost baggage expenses.
    • Some homeowners policies cover lost personal possessions if you are traveling domestically.[2]
    • Life insurance policies are still in effect when you travel, so there is no need to buy additional "death and dismemberment" insurance.[3]
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    Know when to buy travel insurance. The best time to buy travel insurance is when you book your trip. This will help you avoid problems caused by preexisting medical conditions, like the denial of a claim based on an illness that you had when you bought the insurance, or weather events, like a hurricane or typhoon that has already formed when you buy insurance.[4]
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    Don't buy insurance just to cover your possessions. It's generally not worth it to buy insurance to cover manageable losses, like the loss or theft of your possessions. Be careful with your belongings and be ready to lose some items (it's inevitable that you will). Note that this is not true for luggage lost while flying. You may want to get coverage to cover those losses.[5]
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    Consider the cost of insurance. Travel insurance is relatively cheap compared to the costs of traveling. A standard travel insurance plan will end up costing you about 5 to 7 percent of the cost of your trip. Your individual insurance may cost more if you are traveling to a more dangerous country or engaging in dangerous activities, like extreme sports.[6]
    • Plans may be more or less expensive depending on your age. Coverage for people over 50 can be much more expensive, while coverage for children (those under 17) is inexpensive or free in many cases.[7]

Part 2
Choosing a Travel Insurance Type

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    Buy coverage as needed rather than buying an all-purpose plan. Most insurers have begun to offer specialized coverage to meet the specific needs of each travelers. This is a departure from past offerings, which were all-purpose plans. For example, you can buy a plan that only covers medical expenses, or one specialized to the needs of a student studying abroad. Look for plans that cover what you need and nothing more. Otherwise, you'll be overpaying for your insurance plan.[8]
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    Look for specific features of plans as needed. You'l have to determine what needs you have on your trip.
    • Cancellation and interruption travel insurance will refund the costs of your trip in the event that it is canceled for a valid reason.
    • Trip delay plans cover you if a late flight causes you to miss another event, like the departure of a cruise ship.
    • Health care travel insurance pays all medical costs during your trip, including evacuation and repatriation costs if you need special care in order to get back home.
    • Baggage insurance covers the costs of lost or stolen luggage.
    • Non-refundable insurance pays for your travel costs in the event that a non-refundable ticket is canceled by the travel company.[9]
    • "Cancel for any reason" plans are another, more expensive, option that allows you to cancel a trip as you choose. This plan may cost up to 50 percent more than other plans.[10]
    • Adventure and extreme sports insurance covers you for physical harm incurred during activities such as mountain biking, rock climbing and diving. This insurance will likely be somewhat more expensive than other plans.[11]
    • Golf insurance insures your golf equipment against damages or theft during travel.
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    Make sure you get enough medical coverage. Some medical plans only cover medical expenses up to a relatively low limit, like $20,000. If you sustain a critical injury while abroad, it won't be long before this limit is reached and your care ends or medical bills begin piling up. Make sure you get coverage of at least $100,000 or $300,000 to be sure that you are covered for all potential injuries.[12]
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    Consider getting evacuation coverage. Evacuation coverage provides you the ability to be evacuated back home or to a nearby country for medical treatment, rather than being treated in a local hospital. The exact terms of these plans depend on your policy. Services like MedJet and American Express's Global Travel Shield offer this type of plan. There are also annual plans available, if needed.[13]

Part 3
Buying Travel Insurance

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    Go online to research the travel insurance policies you can buy via the Internet. Make a list of travel insurance policies in which you're interested or that best suit your specific travel plans.
    • To find insurance plans, check out This site allows you to compare a number of providers and plans.[14]
    • Other sites include,, and[15]
    • Travel insurance can also be purchased from your tour operator or cruise line, but these plans typically only cover the portion of the trip under the guidance of that guide or cruise, so you are out of luck for any problems you have on the rest of your trip.[16]
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    Compare policies. Request free quotes for each of the policies you're considering and compare them to see which offers you the best coverage for the lowest price. Remember to check for 24-hour assistance and adequate coverage. You should also look for a plan with:
    • Coverage in most countries.
    • Coverage for your electronics (your phone, computer, etc.).
    • Covered cancellations in case of sudden medical emergencies or life events.
    • Coverage for political risk (coups, riots, civil strife).
    • Travel company bankruptcy coverage.[17]
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    Meet with a sales rep and make sure you are covered. Before buying insurance, meet with a sales rep for the insurance provider and go over a copy of the insurance plan with them. Ask about coverages you are worried about and ask them if they are covered in the plan. Make them show you the specific parts of the plan that prove this coverage. If you are buying medical coverage, make sure that any pre-existing conditions you or your traveling companions have are covered.[18]
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    Purchase the travel insurance policy that best fits your budget and needs. Most policies take effect as soon as your payment has been processed, but always ask your insurance carrier to be sure. You do not want to be leaving on your trip, only to learn that your travel insurance policy has not yet taken effect.
    • Purchase the policy that makes the most sense for your trip and how much you've spent on it. If you are taking a quick trip you've done before, odds are you don't need travel insurance.[19]


  • Always calculate whether the trip you're thinking of buying travel insurance for merits it. For example, it you buy a last minute ticket for under $70, buying insurance will cost you more than the trip. If you're going to Europe for a month, however, travel insurance might be a necessity.
  • Always put your travel insurance company's number on speed dial in your phone before your trip, and remember to carry a copy of your travel insurance policy with you.
  • Check for the force major clause in your travel insurance policy. This covers costs in the event of acts of terrorism, natural disasters, and other calamities.


  • Never purchase cancellation and interruption insurance from your travel agent's insurance company. If the travel agent cancels the trip due to lack of funds, it's unlikely their insurance company will pay out any claims.

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Categories: Travel Safety & Security