When you think about travel insurance, you probably picture the middle-aged guy in an airport who’s carrying a backpack filled with everything he owns while waiting for his flight to board. But what about when you’re traveling internationally? Is travel insurance still worthwhile, and how much does it cost? Keep reading to find out.
Types of Trip Insurance
Before we dive into the details of each individual coverage, let’s take a quick look at some of the most common types of trip insurance. Trip cancellation (or Cancel For Any Reason) covers any unexpected problems that may occur during your trip. This includes things like airline cancellations, missed flights, lost luggage, illness, natural disasters, etc. Most policies will cover these events up to around $1 million per person.
The trip interruption usually applies when there are issues such as war, civil unrest, riots, terrorist attacks, strikes, severe weather, and other acts of God. These disruptions typically affect airfares only, but sometimes hotels too depending on the policy. Some insurers offer coverage for both interruptions and cancelations.
Medical expenses apply if you need medical attention while abroad due to injury, sickness, or accident.
Finally, baggage delay insurance protects against long waits at airports. In this case, delayed luggage means you won’t be able to use your stuff until it arrives. Baggage loss happens when something gets lost or stolen overseas.
In addition to these standard protections, you might also want to consider getting additional coverage for specific activities. Here are four popular ones.
Airport Lounge Passes
If you fly frequently, you know that airline lounges provide free food and drinks along with comfortable seating areas that make flying more enjoyable. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to them. So why pay retail prices for seats at the gate when you could have a pass good for two years instead? Get one from Travelex International.
Baggage Delay Protection
Many airlines charge hefty fees for checked bags often hundreds of dollars! With baggage delay insurance, however, you’ll never have to worry about paying extra money because your bag got stuck somewhere halfway across the world.
Theft and Accidental Loss/damage
If you’re going someplace exotic, you may want to protect yourself against theft and accidents by investing in traveler’s checks. These are small packets of cash that you can carry on planes, trains, buses, boats, etc. They’re relatively cheap and easy to exchange back home.
Lastly, many people don’t realize that their rental car insurance doesn’t extend to driving in another country. To avoid this problem, purchase an international auto insurance policy before leaving.
What to Look for in Your Coverage
Now that you’ve seen the basics, here are a few key things to keep in mind when shopping for different policies.
Cost- The cheapest option isn’t always the best choice. A higher premium comes with peace of mind.
Minimum age requirements- Depending on where you’re going, certain countries require proof of legal adulthood before they grant you entry.
A number of covered trips – If you plan on taking multiple trips in the same year, you may want to buy more than one policy.
Location of destination- While travel insurance coverage for domestic destinations is generally uniform, overseas coverage varies widely. Check out our guide to finding the right kind of insurance.
Exclusions- Make sure you read through your policy carefully to see exactly what’s covered and what isn’t. You might discover that you’re already protected under someone else’s policy.
Deductibles- Some plans include deductibles, others do not. Either way, you may want to check.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
You can find travel insurance either online or offline. And since price plays such a large role in determining whether you choose to invest, it makes sense that most people opt for online services. However, not all policies are created equal.
For example, you might end up saving 20% or more by purchasing a high-quality policy from a reputable provider rather than buying a cheaper one from a discount site. Or perhaps you’d save even more by using a non-online service altogether.
So how much would you expect to spend on travel insurance? Let’s take a look at a couple of typical prices:
A single adult ticket for a round-trip domestic flight costs anywhere between $10-$15 for economy class, plus taxes. That ticket alone would set you back $20-$30 for an annual policy.
And those aren’t bad numbers considering how expensive tickets tend to be. One recent estimate puts the average first-class ticket at nearly $200 for just one leg of the journey. That’s over $400 for a round-trip ticket!
As you can see, it quickly becomes difficult to justify spending less than $100 for a full month of travel insurance. Even if you’re willing to shell out a bit more, it’s important to shop around. Prices vary wildly based on destination, insurer, duration of coverage, number of days, and more.
But even if you’re ready to splurge a little, remember that you shouldn’t feel pressured into signing up for anything. Read reviews, compare providers, and decide what’s best for you.
Do You Need Travel Insurance When Flying Internationally?
Whether you live near the border or far away from it, you’re likely familiar with the concept of “civil rights.” Basically, citizens have certain rights guaranteed to them by law, whereas foreigners are subject to a host of restrictions.
This can pose a dilemma when traveling internationally. On the one hand, citizen rights are very important. After all, if you’re denied entrance into a country, how can you enjoy your vacation? On the other hand, if you’re being mistreated unfairly, you can file a formal complaint and potentially force authorities to act.
That said, not every situation warrants calling the police. If you were simply mistaken for locals, for instance, you wouldn’t necessarily need a lawyer. But if you were detained, assaulted, or otherwise harmed without justification, you should consult a professional immediately.
However, this isn’t always possible. For example, you might be visiting family members who live abroad. Regardless of your status, you still need to ask permission to enter and stay. Otherwise, you run the risk of being arrested and thrown in jail.
To help you make informed decisions, we recommend browsing our list of tips for avoiding tourist traps.
Should I Buy Travel Insurance Online or Offline?
Online services are great for researching deals and comparing rates. But they can also lead to confusion. As mentioned above, some policies are better than others.
If you want to make sure you’re getting the best deal, try speaking directly to an agent. In most cases, you’ll receive a lower rate for doing so.
Of course, agents aren’t available everywhere, including remote locations. So if you don’t speak the local language, consider hiring an independent broker instead.
Brokers work exclusively with insurers and can negotiate discounts that you couldn’t normally obtain elsewhere. Plus, brokers are experts at working with foreign cultures. If ever you encounter trouble, they’ll be able to assist you accordingly.
Downloadable vs. physical policies. Physical policies come in PDF format and are downloaded onto your computer. Downloadable policies allow you to print out receipts and statements, meaning you no longer need to wait around for delivery.
On the downside, downloading files over public Wi-Fi can expose your data to hackers. Also, some carriers block websites hosting download links, preventing users from obtaining new policies. Finally, many browsers don’t support downloads larger than 3MB, meaning you must be careful when choosing which PDFs to view.
Overall, downloadable policies are convenient but not entirely safe. Offline policies are harder to acquire, but they give you complete control over your documents. Thus, if you prefer privacy, this is the best option for you.
Keep in mind that you’re responsible for making any changes to your policy after you sign it. Don’t rely solely on printed versions. You should make sure you understand all parts of the contract before finalizing anything.
We’ve now discussed travel insurance. Next, let’s talk about ways that you can save money on transportation once you arrive at your destination.
First, airport lounges are quite affordable. Depending on the size of the lounge, you can pay as little as $5 per day. Not surprisingly, these facilities offer snacks, beverages, showers, lockers, TVs, computers, and even complimentary breakfast and dinner.
Some lounges even serve alcohol. And if you fly frequently, you can earn membership cards that entitle you to discounted rates.
Second, you can save big bucks by booking your flights directly with an airline. Simply visit its website and search for seats with a frequent flyer program code. Be aware that participating airlines change regularly, though.