Where do I get Travel Insurance?
There are many sources of travel insurance including retail travel insurance companies, evacuation and emergency travel services, and independent travel insurance brokers or agencies. Retail travel insurance companies offer one group of similar products while direct emergency and evacuation companies have more specific niche coverage. Brokers or agents sell a broad range of products from differing sources, and can often advise you based on your specific situation. This knowledge might cost a small premium, but if they can put you in the correct product it can often be well worth it.
You Full Service insurance agent might handle travel insurance, especially if its long-term comprehensive travel and medical insurance. There are specific situations where it might make sense to bundle travel and health insurance together. If you travel regularly for a year or more or if you plan on being away for six months or more it may be financially beneficial to bundle travel coverage with your normal health coverage. If you fit into this unique category contact your health insurance representative only after researching your independent options. Independent research coupled with trusted professional advice can often lead to the most cost effective and safe Travel Insurance Coverage.
Often credit card companies or travel agencies can offer travel insurance that accompanies or is an option to the services you buy from them. An example of this type of situation is Hotwire.com, and Travelocity.com. They both offer trip cancellation and interruptions insurance for a small percentage of the overall trip cost.
Different Types of travel insurance
Travel insurance is categorized into six major categories, each tailored to a specific need.
- Emergency travel medical insurance
Many health plans don’t completely cover events that happen while traveling. If your medical coverage does not completely cover international health care and evacuation while traveling, “Emergency Travel Medical Insurance” could be an excellent option for you. This specific medical coverage generally only covers you while abroad, and for an additional fee, for a short period once you get back home. Check with your current health insurance provider before you take a trip abroad, especially if you expect to be abroad for more than 30 days. Most health insurance companies include their own provisions for emergency health care abroad, but they differ widely in breadth and scope
- Supplier insurance default
This type of insurance covers any financial loss due to the bankruptcy of a travel provider, cruise line, airline, or other tour operator. Since September 11, 2001 this type of coverage has been cut back. Travel insurance companies will most likely be very selective about the companies they will insure.
- Medical evacuation insurance
Evacuation Insurance covers the cost of an air ambulance and air nurse in the event of extreme trauma, or become so ill, that you can’t make it home via normal commercial aviation. If uninsured, medical evacuations can cost you tens of thousands of dollars, but are rarely necessary. Even after severe trauma most people can make it back home on regular commercial flights after a few weeks. Often medical evacuation is needed in extremely remote places or for extreme sports and scuba diving. Make sure you read the fine print because often these types of activities are excluded from coverage.
- Comprehensive travel medical insurance
Comprehensive insurance is exactly that, Comprehensive. This type of insurance is generally used by people who are traveling out of their home country for long periods of time and/or are self employed. These individuals usually don’t have any other medical coverage at home because they don’t have traditional employment or are not working at all. If you are planning on taking a year long trip around the world this type of coverage is for you. Surprisingly this coverage is often less expensive that getting health insurance in your home country. The primary downside to this coverage is that it does not cover you in your home country.
- Trip interruption or cancellation insurance
This type of insurance is the most common travel insurance and is reasonably self explanatory. Its covers the cost of the trip, penalties, and getting home if you are forced to cut your trip short or cancel it altogether. Read the fine print because there are specific guidelines that governs allowable reasons for cancellations or interruption. Some of these include illness or injury to you, a companion, or a member of your immediate family. Recently extreme sports, terrorism, and war are not covered, so read carefully. You can often purchase additional riders for these other circumstances.
- Car Rental insurance
Rental Car insurance is often sold by rental agencies, and covers theft or damage to the vehicle that you rent. Many car insurance and credit card companies like USAA cover you while you drive a rental car. Don’t purchase this type of insurance if your carrier covers you, because it is redundant. Make sure you read the fine print or talk to a representative before you opt out of Liability insurance.
Below is a list of a few Insurance providers. This list is not all inclusive and by no means an endorsement. Its just a list.
Reviews about these companies can be found at the better business bureau and they change often. This list can at least get you started in your own research and give you a basis of information which you can use to discuss with a broker or agent.
1. Travel insurance companies and travel service providers
Medjet offers Emergency medical transportation but not medical evacuation. The primary advantage to Medjet Assistance is the right to travel to “any hospital of your choice” which is general more lenient that other travel health insurance providers who will bring you to the nearest hospital. Standard coverage is only good for stays abroad of 90 days or less. If want coverage for a longer period you will have to pay an additional fee for expatriate coverage.
Multi national Underwriters is a comprehensive travel health insurance provider. Their policies are designed for those who do not have health insurance and will be out of the country for an extended period of time. Their policy includes general health, complications of pregnancy, terrorism, emergency dental, evacuation, emergency reunion, natural disaster, life, trip interruption, lost luggage, and travel assistance.
World Nomads specializes in coverage for long term international travelers who don’t have any health insurance at home. Their package is bundled to include trip cancellation/interruption, medical evacuation, and emergency medical. They even have optional riders for personal electronics which is usually not covered under traditional policies. They cover citizens from any country traveling outside their home country of citizenship. Does not include Default supplier coverage.
Highway to health covers basic Emergency medical, Evacuation, and trip interruption and cancellation. Does not include default supplier coverage.
Standard Emergency Medical, evacuation, trip interruption. They do offer default coverage, but exclude certain travel companies. Travel Guard does have a good reputation for covering people affected by September 11, even when their policies specifically excluded acts of terror.
High end expensive Comprehensive medical travel insurance is IMG. International Medical Group is the official primary provider for the Volunteers of the Peach Corps, and also insures many American expatriates and missionaries traveling in developing countries. While expensive IMG has a good reputation in the industry.
CSA Travel Protection provides standard emergency medical, evacuation, and trip interruption and cancellation. No Default supplier coverage.
Travelex is a currency exchange and travel service and has services offices all around the world. In addition to their primary business they also provide standard emergency medical, evacuation, trip interruption and cancellation, supplier default. The do provide a comprehensive default supplier coverage.
Safeware specializes in the insurance of personal electronic devices such as laptops, peripherals, and their accessories. This covers any accidental damage including water and theft, abroad and at home as long as you are a resident of the United States of America.
AirMed International offers prepaid medical evacuation service similar to Medjet, for an annual fee. AirMed is a little different from Medjet in that they own and operate their own fleet. In some peoples opinion this is neither good nor bad. Their service is consistent, but might take more time. Also they will only provide service is the evacuation is absolutely necessary.
Seven Corners formerly SRI is a standard emergency medical, evacuation, trip interruption and cancellation provider. They do not provide default supplier coverage, but do provide and optional Liability add on. This provider is generally for people who have basic health insurance coverage at home.
Access America offers general emergency medical, evacuation, trip interruption, and cancellation insurance. Their default supplier coverage is very limited.