So, what does travel insurance cover? Here’s the very short answer: Cancellations, medical expenses, evacuations, loss or delays, and 24/7 assistance.
These are the 5 basic types of coverage provided with vacation insurance. This page outlines the general coverage provided, and our full guide to coverage can be found here.
1. Cancelled Trips This is the #1 concern with most travelers.
Plane tickets, cruise fare, tour packages, hotel rooms, charter fishing boats, golf greens fees. You invest money when planning a trip. If these expenses are pre-paid and non-refundable, you risk losing it if something goes wrong.
Trip Cancellation Coverage reimburses you for pre-paid, non-refundable expenses if you need to cancel your trip before you depart.
Insurance companies provide a list of covered reasons for trip cancellation, an overview of typical covered reasons is below.
Covered reasons to cancel your trip:
Sickness, injury, or death of you, a family member, or a traveling companion
Hurricane damages your destination or cancels your flight
Laid off from work or required to work
Terrorist incident in your destination city
Bankruptcy of your travel supplier
Called for jury duty
This is only a partial list, but you can see it covers very common situations for cancelling. The most common reason is the first one…someone getting sick or a family member passing away.
Trip Interruption Coverage is similar to cancellation coverage, but covers you while you are on your trip for the same list of covered reasons.
If something happens and you are required to return home, insurance will reimburse you for the lost portion of your trip…as well as any additional expenses for the last-minute flight home.
2. Medical emergencies abroad This is crucial, and often overlooked.
Most people think they are covered for medical emergencies if they already have existing health care insurance. Within the United States, that will be true.
Outside the U.S., however, is a big IF. Most do not provide coverage, and Medicare never covers you abroad.
Would you feel comfortable having a family member risk inadequate medical care in a foreign country?
For cruises, your health insurance from home may not cover you if you’re traveling on a foreign-flagged ship (which includes most cruise ships).
Medical Expense Coverage will cover you for accidents and emergency medical and dental care when you travel abroad.
Even if you are covered for basic emergency care overseas (again, a big IF), your current health insurance provider will almost certainly NOT pay to evacuate you and repatriate you back to the U.S.
3. Emergency evacuations Emergency Evacuation Coverage will pay for emergency evacuation expenses such as airlifts and medically equipped flights back home, and oftentimes will transport you to the hospital of your choice for care.
Evacuation expenses can be devastating.
An ambulance to the hospital, an airlift to a more adequate hospital, getting you back home on board a medically-staffed flight afterwards…evacuation expenses can easily cost $50,000.
4. Lost bags, delayed bags, delayed flights These coverage are for the "smaller things” that are nice to have. Again, the list is not complete but it will give you an idea of some additional coverages.
Baggage Coverage can reimburse you for your personal belongings if your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged.
Baggage Delay Coverage provides money to buy essential items until your delayed bags arrive, such as a toiletry kit, a swimsuit, or another change of clothes.
Travel Delay Coverage provides reimbursement for additional expenses if your flight is delayed, such as an extra night in a hotel or a meal at a restaurant.
5. Phone assistance 24/7 worldwide This coverage is about having a ‘lifeline’ to call when something happens.
Medical emergencies, stolen baggage, lost passports, cancelled flights. Every travel insurance company provides 24/7 support for all of these needs.
This service is most important when you have a medical issue.
24/7 Travel Assistance Services can help you:
Locate the nearest adequate hospital if needed
Organize medical transportation
Arrange for treatment and overcome any language barriers
Organize transportation home
Replace prescriptions in an emergency
In addition, non-medical assistance may include:
Lost baggage search; stolen luggage replacement assistance
Lost passport/travel documents assistance
Travel information including visa/passport requirements
Emergency telephone interpretation assistance
Additional coverage with travel insurance Travel insurance can also provides coverage for:
Life Insurance coverage for accidental death or dismemberment.
Hazardous Sports extends the medical coverage to cover activities like SCUBA.
Rental Car Collision replaces your personal insurance or the rental company policy.
Identity Theft provides services to help in the event of identity theft while traveling.