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In today’s increasingly connected world, travel insurance – covering issues as diverse as medical emergencies, itinerary changes, calls for jury duty and lost luggage – has become as much of a must-have as a boarding pass, but it’s important not to let that lull you into a false sense of security. While it’s true that having insurance is your best bet for avoiding bank-busting disasters on the road, no plan is foolproof. Being aware of areas where typical coverage often falls short is the key to staying safe and in control wherever life takes you.

The Pre-Existing Condition Pitfall

Although travel insurance is an excellent safeguard against many types of medical emergencies abroad, from accidents to evacuations, most policies have built-in exclusions for pre-existing conditions. If you’ve been seriously ill in the past or need ongoing treatment, consider looking for a plan that offers a pre-existing condition waiver.

Luggage in Limbo

Coverage for lost luggage is common, but it usually doesn’t kick in until your bags have been missing for a set number of hours. In case of a delay, it’s a good idea to carry at least a day’s worth of medication, toiletries and clothing in your carry-on.

When Trip Cancellation Rules Don’t Apply

Given the astronomical costs of changing reservations, it’s not surprising that hassle-free trip cancellation is one of the top reasons to get travel insurance, but there’s one big caveat: You need to have the right reason to get reimbursed. Generally, coverage extends to situations that are out of your control, including death in the family, natural disasters, unexpected work obligations, new illnesses and injuries. In other words, you won’t be able to get your money back if you simply change your mind.

If you’re traveling on a tour, make sure that your dates are firmly confirmed before buying your airline tickets. While a typical policy may cover a travel provider’s bankruptcy, it will rarely do the same for expenses incurred due to tour changes or cancellations, which will most likely be seen as your tour company’s responsibility.

Keep in mind that the above are just general guidelines. Individual coverage can vary quite a bit depending on your background, how much you want to pay, who your insurer is and where you’re traveling. To get the best value for your money, comparison shopping is the way to go – and don’t forget to read the fine print. Each policy’s own terms and conditions will always override the industry standard.

For detailed information on what travel insurance covers, check out our, “What Does Travel Insurance Cover?” section.

The Basics of Travel Insurance

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