Before finalizing vacation plans, considering travel insurance should be an item on any traveler’s to do list. A cancelled trip, an early return home, or forced emergency medical treatment are all good reasons to consider travel insurance. However, Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends travelers weigh the pros and cons of travel insurance before making a final decision that will influence their travel budget.
Before purchasing coverage, consumers should check their homeowner’s or medical insurance policies to avoid any overlap. For instance, expensive items such as a camcorder, laptop computer or jewelry may be covered by a homeowner’s insurance policy should they be stolen while traveling. If the airline loses checked luggage, they are required to reimburse for the bags (up to a certain dollar amount), or if consumers become sick or injured while traveling, their personal medical insurance may pick up the cost of medical bills.
To help consumers make an educated decision when it comes to the purchase of travel insurance, BBB offers an overview of some of the different types of insurance coverage available:
- Trip Cancellation/Interruption (TCI) – If plans suddenly change and the trip is cancelled or ends early, TCI will cover certain costs. However, it will only reimburse for reasons on the insurer’s acceptable list, such as injury, sickness, death of purchaser, a family member, traveling companion or business partner. Some policies will cover only medical reasons and some will not cover pre-existing medical conditions. It’s important to read the fine print.
- Emergency Medical Evacuation – If heading on an adventure vacation or to an area that is far from modern medical facilities, it may be a good idea to buy Emergency Medical Evacuation coverage. If adequate treatment is not available at a local hospital, the insured will be transferred to the nearest acceptable medical faculty.
- Baggage Loss – This coverage reimburses for lost, stolen or damaged bags. It is recommended to make a list of all items while packing; if a bag is lost, it may be reimbursed for some contents, but not all. Baggage-loss protection is only necessary if carrying more than $2,500 worth of items in bags. Check homeowner’s policy to see if this is included.
BBB recommends travelers take the following into consideration:
- Read the fine print. Know exactly what coverage you are getting and what is covered. Policies and insurance firms differ in what they cover.
- You may not need to buy it right away. Travel insurance can be purchased days before your trip. Check to see if the policy you are considering requires you to purchase within a set time period after booking travel. For trip cancellation insurance, you won’t be covered if you buy the policy after you’ve become ill or a natural disaster has wiped out your vacation destination.
- Not every trip needs travel insurance. If your total trip is a couple hundred dollars in airfare, travel insurance probably isn’t worth it. However, if you’re taking the trip of a lifetime and spending thousands, travel insurance is a good idea.
- Don’t fall for high pressure sales tactics. Don't let someone pressure you into buying travel insurance right away. You are the only one who can decide if you truly need it.
- Pay with a credit card. Protect yourself further by paying for travel related expenditures, including insurance, with a credit card. Ask your credit card issuer if there are additional protections that come with your credit card. Some travel insurance may be built-in to your credit purchases.
For a list of BBB Accredited Businesses offering travel insurance, visit www.searchbbb.org.
About BBB of Central, Northern & Western Arizona
BBB is an unbiased organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. In 2014, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews® on more than 4.7 million businesses and 11,000 charities, all available free at bbb.org. Incorporated locally in 1938, BBB Serving Central, Northern and Western Arizona is supported by over 11,400 BBB Accredited Businesses. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business reviews and charity reports, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust.