Getting back to travel: Insurance

As you start to plan some trips again, you need to think about travel insurance

As you start to plan some trips again, you need to think about travel insurance early. The reason is simple: Some important coverages require that you buy it within a week or two of the time you make your first payment of any kind. So you need to decide, from the get-go, whether you need insurance and, if so, what kind and how much you need to cover your risks.

an open laptop computer sitting on top of a table: Travel Insurance Claim Online Form

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Travel Insurance Claim Online Form

Deciding whether you need special travel insurance is deceptively simple:


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• Many big-ticket travel expenses require that you prepay, in part or in full, months before you leave home, and those prepayments often entail cancellation fees or penalties. If you have more at risk in potential cancellation fees and penalties than you can comfortably walk away from should you have to cancel, you need cancellation insurance (TCI). If you don’t have a big-dollar risk, you don’t need TCI.

• Many big-ticket travel expenses lock you into a destination situation for days or even weeks. If you risk heavy payments to leave your trip and return home early, you need, interruption insurance (TII). If you could get back without paying more than a few minor fees, you don’t need TII.

• Many of you have health/medical insurance or plans that cover you anywhere you go, including a foreign trip. If not, you need travel medical insurance (TMI). Medicare doesn’t cover you outside the US, so if you’re a senior traveler on a foreign trip, you need some extra coverage. If you’re already covered, you don’t need anything more.

You can easily avoid the need for TCI and TII by doing as I’ve been recommending: Don’t prepay until you’re virtually certain you’ll be able to travel, and don’t sign up for any kind of trip that locks you in for an extended period time. Even if you normally need to prepay or make a change, in these uncertain days, many suppliers are waiving their usual cancellation and rebooking penalties.

The basic rule of most insurance is that it covers specific contingencies that you can’t foresee at the time you buy. That’s why travel insurance is called “named peril” insurance: it covers only the contingencies specifically enumerated as “covered reasons” in each policy. And that’s why most insurance does not cover any situation or circumstance, even if named, that is foreseeable at the time you buy your insurance.

Some insurers offer an extra-cost TCI feature that allows you to cancel a trip for any reason, named or foreseen or not. But it usually covers only 50 percent to 75 percent of your trip cost, it does not cover cancellation within 48 hours or less of departure, and it adds cost.

The reason you need to buy travel insurance early is that most TCI, TII, and TMI exclude claims based on a pre-existing medical condition, and many — perhaps most — of you probably have enough of a pre-existing condition to disqualify a claim. But many insurers waive that exclusion if you buy the insurance within a week or two before you make your first payment. Similarly, a cancel-for-any-reason add-on typically requires early purchase.

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The basic rule of travel (or any other) insurance is to buy the minimum amount you need and the least expensive policy that meets those needs. And the best way to find the right policy is through one of the several specialized online travel insurance agencies’ comparison sites, including:

• G1G []

• Insure My Trip []

• QuoteWright [

• Squaremouth []

• TravelersMed []

These independent agencies sell policies written by all the major insurance underwriters. Price and coverage comparisons and policy selection is a snap: You enter your personal data, trip particulars, and what kind of insurance you want, and the site returns a long list of policies that meet your needs, along with detailed terms and prices. Most agencies sell extended policies as well as by-the-trip.

Several other agencies specialize in worldwide TMI policies, including:

• General Global Assistance []

• International SOS [ ]

• MedjetAssist []

(Send e-mail to Ed Perkins at [email protected] Also, check out Ed’s new rail travel website at

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