Travel can be unpredictable even at the best of times. And the more variables that go into your trip — from the number of travelers to the number of hotel rooms and flights you’ve booked — the more you stand to lose if you have a change of plans.
Not every trip calls for travel insurance, but some types of travel are a riskier investment than others, such as international travel or a month-long vacation.
Travel insurance is especially important if you have to pay for a trip well in advance, and your cruise, flights, or hotels don’t have affordable cancellation policies. It’s also a good idea if you don’t have emergency medical insurance in your destination country.
Why Compare Travel Insurance?
Once you’ve decided to buy travel insurance, it’s time to do some comparison shopping. It might be tempting to buy the first package that’s offered to you by your travel agent or booking website, but that isn’t likely to be the best deal available.
Often, the plans offered by booking sites and travel agents only cover the portion of the booking you’ve made with them, and don’t include comprehensive travel insurance or a trip cancellation policy. In some cases, these plans may only offer a “waiver” or a credit toward future bookings, which isn’t helpful in a real emergency.
You can use a comparison tool like the one at TravelInsurance.com to see quotes from multiple insurance companies all at once and find the best plan for you. The most expensive insurance plans aren’t necessarily the most comprehensive. By looking at all your options side by side, you’ll be able to get the best value for your money.
Plus, you’ll be able to see several different plans in one easy-to-read chart, and you won’t have to enter the same trip details over and over for each plan that you want to consider.
Step 1: Enter Your Trip Details
In order to get the most accurate quote, you’ll need to have some details about your trip handy. This includes information such as:
- the cost of your trip
- the dates of your trip
- your destination
- the number of travelers
- the age of all travelers
- your permanent residence
- the date of your first payment or deposit
You don’t have to enter any personal details yet, and you’ll only have to give your name and contact details when you choose a plan and decide to purchase it.
Here’s how it looks when you fill out the form at TravelInsurance.com:
If you don’t know how to answer something, you can hover over the question mark for an explanation. We’ve filled it out with sample details for a one-week trip to the Bahamas for a family of five, with two kids and a grandmother.
Step 2: Narrow Down Your Search
Now it’s time to decide what types of coverage you want to include in your policy. If you know what insurance options you do and don’t need, you’ll be able to narrow down your search and have fewer policies to choose from. Some of these options are:
Trip Cancellation Insurance: Trip cancellation covers your nonrefundable costs (such as airfare and hotel bookings) if your trip is delayed or cancelled because of an illness, natural disaster, or other circumstance outside of your control.
It doesn’t cover all contingencies, such as cancelling your trip due to work or a family emergency. For that, you’ll need “cancel for any reason” coverage, which is usually more expensive and needs to be purchased shortly after booking your trip.
Trip Interruption Insurance: Trip interruption insurance is similar to cancellation insurance, but it covers issues that arise after your trip has started. For example, you might need to cut your trip short if you or someone at home suddenly gets sick. Or you might be stuck paying for extra nights of lodging if your return flight is delayed. Your trip interruption policy can reimburse you for these costs.
Baggage Loss and Delay Coverage: This type of coverage protects you if your luggage is lost, damaged, or stolen. You’ll typically get reimbursed a certain amount per bag.
Emergency Medical Insurance: Depending on where you’re traveling, you may need more comprehensive emergency medical coverage than your health insurance plan provides. While some health care plans pay for “reasonable” medical costs overseas, getting additional medical insurance will cover you in more situations.
Travel insurance plans can cover ambulance and hospital care, and even emergency medical evacuations back to your home country. As with all health care policies, you’ll need to take coverage limits and deductibles into account when you compare them.
Other add-ons: Some plans include additional options, such as collision coverage for rental cars or a preexisting condition exclusion waiver.
After you’ve entered your trip information at TravelInsurance.com, you can select the coverage options that you need.
Step 3: Compare Travel Insurance Policies
Now, you’re ready to start comparing your options. On the results page, you’ll see a list of the policies that meet your requirements, with the price, company, coverage options, and star ratings displayed for each policy.
You can sort the results from lowest to highest (or vice versa) by price, as well as by the amount of coverage offered in each category. All of the policies shown in our example cover 100% of the trip cost for cancellation insurance, and 150% for trip interruption insurance. Baggage loss ranges from $500 to $1,500 per person, while medical evacuation ranges from $250,000 per person to $1 million per person.
You can click on a plan to see more details and download a PDF with a full description of the coverage. You can also click on the reviews to see what other travelers say about the policy. You’ll notice that some companies have multiple options, such as a “Cruise Plan” that costs more but has higher coverage limits intended for cruise bookings.
If you see a policy you like, you can click “Add to Compare” so you can view it later in a side-by-side comparison with other policies. On the right, you’ll see your trip details and your search filter selections, which you can change at any time.
When you click on “Compare Now,” you’ll be taken to a new screen that displays your selections in an easy-to-read chart. You’ll be able to see the name of the underwriter, their A.M. Best Rating, and details for each area of coverage, including cancellation and medical coverage.
Some plans offer additional services, such as Worldwide Travel Assistance, which may include legal referrals, translation services, and ID theft resolution services.
If there’s a benefit that you don’t understand or that you want to learn more about, you can click on it to view a pop-up lightbox with more information. This box includes the coverage details, definitions, and exclusions for each benefit.
For example, most trip cancellation plans offer Coverage for Sickness, Injury or Death of Insured or Family Member or Traveling Companion. Click on “View Details” to find out the details of the policy. In this case, you’ll see the full coverage details related to this benefit. You can click on the other tabs to view definitions and exclusions.
You can click on “Remove Policy” at the top of the page to remove the plans you’re no longer interested in, or click “Buy Now” to purchase the plan online.
Step 4: Buy Travel Insurance
Once you’ve selected a policy, you can purchase it from the provider directly through TravelInsurance.com at the lowest guaranteed price – even the direct insurance provider website won’t offer the same plan for less. You’ll need to provide the name and date of birth for everyone going on the trip, along with your address and credit card details for payment.
Be sure to double-check all of your coverage options, such as Rental Car Damage or Cancel for Work Reasons, to make sure you’re getting all the coverage you need.
If you’re not ready to make a decision, you can have a quote emailed to you instead. Just click on “Back to Quote Results,” then click on “Email Quote” for any of the plans shown. Enter your email address to have the policy details emailed to you.
Purchasing travel insurance can be a lot of work but using a comparison tool makes it easy to understand what you’re getting.
Plus, you’ll get a confirmation of coverage emailed to you instantly, so you don’t have to worry about it in the lead-up to your trip. If you do have to make a claim, you’ll know exactly how much you’re entitled to and which situations are covered.