Here’s The 411 On Travel Insurance Plans (And What You Need)
So, you’re going on a trip. Congratulations, we hope you have a ton of fun. But there’s one detail you’re probably turning over in your mind — travel insurance. Should you get it? Is it worth the extra expense? That’s about as far as you’ve probably gone on the topic, but unfortunately there’s so much more to consider than just saying “yes” or “no.” Here’s everything you need to know about travel insurance, including what types best fit your needs.
“Trip insurance” is not the same as “travel insurance.”
You’re probably familiar with trip insurance. When you’re on an airline’s website ready to purchase a flight, you’ve seen the “check for insurance” option that allows you to add said insurance to your flight for an extra fee. You gotta know that this insurance is just one type of travel insurance and it only covers what is stated (typically if something goes wrong with your flight or baggage during the trip). It does not cover your health while traveling, and it likely does not cover any other part of your trip other than the flights. You can go ahead and buy this insurance from your carrier, or you can buy independent travel insurance from an actual insurance company.
Cool, got it? Alright, let’s move on.
Types Of Travel Insurance
Package Plan Travel Insurance: This is one of the most common forms of travel insurance and it includes multiple travel protections, combined to create one comprehensive plan. You can find it through many independent insurance companies and it often includes protection for:
- Trip cancellation for reasons like illness, injury, job loss, environmental issues like hurricanes and military duty.
- Trip interruptions (like a canceled connecting flight), including any extra money spent on unexpected new flights, costs of lodging and any other transportation you need to take to complete your trip.
- Emergency medical and dental expenses for injuries or conditions like a broken leg or sudden tooth pain. Note that most package insurance plans do not cover any non-emergency expenses like check-ups. Your chosen travel insurance provider will tell you what is, and isn’t, considered an emergency.
- Security and political evacuation, which covers you in the event of a natural disaster, political uprising or political unrest. Basically, you’ll be safely escorted out of the country you’re visiting and taken back home no matter how last minute the situation is.
- Emergency medical evacuation, which is different from security and political evacuation in that it covers any transportation you may need in the case of an emergency injury or illness. Also, this is not travel medical insurance. It just gives you the means to be transported if your health is in trouble.
- All the other typical stuff you want covered, like lost, damaged or stollen baggage and cancellation of your trip for any other reason not stated in the above trip cancellation coverage.
Who needs this insurance?
- Families taking a particularly expensive trip — You don’t want to pay out of pocket for anything unexpected!
- Newlyweds going on their honeymoon — Don’t ruin your honeymoon by not preparing for that hospital-grade bout of food sickness.
- Travelers on a budget — If you’re already counting pennies, you may not be super keen on going in on the package insurance plan, but this expense could be worth it over facing any emergency unprotected.
- Sports or outside activity enthusiasts — Many non-package plans don’t cover extreme sports like scaling mountains.
- Anyone concerned with losing money on an already expensive trip and wants to play it safe
Yep, the package plan covers a lot, and it could even include coverage for adventure activities, sports equipment, rental car damage, roadside assistance, identity theft assistance, passport services and pet assistance. Many of the features that the typical package plan covers (medical, evacuation, trip cancellation, etc.) have their own insurance plans, just in case you’re not interested in opting into all of the package plan’s coverage. We’ll go over these separately.
Travel Medical Insurance: This is an insurance plan that only covers medical emergencies and evacuations if you’re out of the country. While travel medical plans vary, the typical plan covers accidents (think broken teeth and food poisoning) and sometimes even emergency medical evacuation (which you’d benefit from if you were injured on a ski trip and needed to be transported to the best hospital). Note: If you’re going international and your travel insurance plan doesn’t cover health insurance, you need to buy travel health insurance separately to make sure you’re covered on your vacay.
There are a few different kinds of travel medical insurance:
- Single trip travel – The most common type of travel insurance purchased. You’ll want this insurance if you’re taking a single trip that takes less than six months from start to finish.
- Multi-trip travel – A type of coverage plan that protects you for multiple trips (if you’re taking multiple flights throughout your international trip, get this one). You can opt for this type of insurance to cover you for three, six or 12 months.
- Long-term major – Hey, wanderluster, this one’s for you. If you plan to travel long-term (like, you’re basically never coming back to the U.S.), you can purchase long-term major insurance for continuous coverage. The best part? You can pay on a monthly basis just in case anything changes and you return to the states early, but you can renew this plan as many times as you need to.
Who needs this insurance?
- Anyone traveling short-term for business — There’s nothing worse than taking a short, necessary trip overseas and having something happen to you over there.
- Long-term travelers who touch base back in the U.S. only so often — If you’re traveling often, your U.S. health coverage doesn’t do much for you. Keep yourself protected in your travels.
- Anyone leaving the country who wants to be safe — If you want to be sure you’ll be taken care of overseas, it makes sense to get this insurance.
Since there are so many types of medical insurance (and depending on your situation, you may want more specific coverage), make sure to compare different insurances to find the one right for you.
Travel Accident Insurance: Often referred to as “flight accident” or “flight travel” insurance, this particular insurance primarily covers any expenses in the case of your premature death. We know, it’s really intense, but we gotta discuss it! This type of insurance typically offers your family or other beneficiaries the same benefits as a term life insurance agreement (basically, that they are given a sum upon your death along with your belongings).
Some travel accident insurances also cover your living self, which is great (ha). Some could offer emergency medical evacuation coverage, coverage for illness or medical accident expenses and coverage that helps you get back home.
Who needs this insurance?
- Anyone who’s taking a risky trip and wants to make sure his or her family is financially covered — If you’re going to a dangerous area or your means of getting there is risky, you’ll want this insurance.
- Anyone concerned about having enough life insurance — Just in case, peeps.
- Anyone super paranoid about flight accidents — Hey, we all have fears. If you can’t manage to soothe your fear of flying (we suggest you try it!), this insurance is for you.
- Anyone with dependents — Basically, you want to just protect your family no matter what.
Like pretty much every other insurance plan, make sure to compare plans to decide which one is right for you.
Annual Insurance: Similar to a package plan, the typical annual insurance plan offers a number of coverage options all under one policy. The major difference in plans is that the annual plan is, well, for the entire year, no matter how many trips you take, where you go or what you do. It’s a bigger, badder version of the package plan, and it typically includes all the coverage a package plan has.
There’s one con to annual insurance, which is that most plans don’t cover random trip cancellations (meaning your cancellation of a trip for a non-serious reason). This is because when you pay a set price and you can’t predict flight cancellations five months in advance, your insurance company won’t be able to estimate, let alone cover, any extra costs of unexpected issues. Womp!
Who needs this insurance?
- Anyone who plans to take multiple international trips within a year — Makes sense, right?
The Bottom Line
Because travel insurance is complicated as hell, there’s just no way we could list every single type here without dying of old age. If you’re traveling through an agency, it may have specialized plans depending on where you’re going and how long you’ll be there. Just make sure that before you opt into whatever is offered, you compare it with other plans and make sure you’re choosing the appropriate insurance for you. Most important to note, though, is that unless you purchase a package or annual plan, you can mix and match different insurances based on your needs. It just may be more costly so do the math.