BBB Advice: Travel Insurance Can Save You Money

December 08, 2010

If you are traveling for the holidays, or at any time, you should think about buying travel insurance. There are a myriad of circumstances that range from bad weather to illnesses or accidents that could cause you to miss your connection, cancel your trip, return home early or force you to seek emergency medical treatment while traveling. Travel insurance may provide the extra protection you need to keep you from losing money due to unforeseen travel problems.

Before you purchase coverage, check your homeowner’s or medical insurance policies to avoid paying for overlapping coverage. Expensive items such as your video camera, laptop computer or jewelry may be covered by your homeowner’s insurance should they be stolen while you are traveling. If the airline loses your checked luggage, it is required to reimburse you for your bags (up to a certain dollar amount). If you become sick or injured while traveling, your personal medical insurance may cover the cost of your medical bills.

Travel insurance may include these types of coverage:
• Trip cancellation/interruption (TCI) – If your plans suddenly change and you have to cancel or end your trip early, TCI may cover your lost travel costs. However, it will only reimburse you for “named perils” which are specific reasons on the insurer’s acceptable list, such as injury, sickness or death in the family.
• Emergency medical coverage and medical evacuation – If you are going on an adventure vacation or to an area that is far from modern medical facilities, it may be a good idea to buy this coverage. If adequate treatment is not available at a local hospital, you would be transferred to the nearest adequate medical facility. However, many policies will not medical expenses that arrive as a result of pre-existing medical conditions.
• Baggage Loss – Before packing, make a list of everything. If your bag is lost, stolen or damaged, you may be reimbursed for some contents, but probably not all.

If you are buying travel insurance, the BBB has the following advice:
• Read the fine print. Know exactly what coverage you are getting or not getting. Travel insurance provides coverage for “named perils” which are specific conditions under which they will pay claims. Many common causes of travel delays such as bad weather, or mechanical problems may be excluded from coverage.
• Pay with a credit card. A credit card may offer you additional buyer protections in case your travel insurance does not cover your specific losss.
• Don’t buy overlapping coverage. Baggage-loss protection is only necessary if you have more than $2,500 of items in your bags.