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8 Steps to Verify You Have the Right Travel Insurance

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Steps to Get the Right Travel InsuranceOne of the biggest complaints travelers have about travel insurance is that it doesn’t pay out when they expect it to. In nearly all of the cases we’ve seen over the years it comes down to the traveler not understanding what their plan covers and, more importantly, what it doesn’t.

Travelers buy travel insurance for all kinds of reasons:

  • ‘I’m worried about terrorist attacks and want to be protected.’

  • ‘My parents are elderly and I want to be able to get home if they need my help.’

  • ‘If I get hurt or sick, I don’t want to worry about paying a huge medical bill.’

  • ‘My job has been a little ‘weird’ lately and I’m worried about layoffs.’

To be sure you actually have the right travel insurance for your trip, follow these steps with the plan you already purchased or want to purchase. Check your plan within the review period so you still have time to cancel your policy (for a refund) or make changes to get the coverage you need.

1. Do a quick health review

If you’ve been to the doctor recently – is that condition likely to recur? If you visited the doctor for migraine headaches in the past few months, for example, and that condition reoccurs on your trip, your medical care while traveling might not be covered.

Why?

Because the condition is considered pre-existing and most travel insurance plans exclude medical care for pre-existing conditions. A traveler who has a pre-existing condition can purchase a plan with coverage if they purchase it soon after their first trip payment or buy the optional upgrade. Some travel insurance plans cover pre-existing conditions automatically if the plan is purchased early. No travel insurance plans cover losses due to mental health issues or suicide.

Very Important: be warned that the exclusions for pre-existing medical conditions apply not only to the traveler but also to family members and travel companions. Most people don’t have the full details of another’s health history, but if a close relative or business associate’s state of health leads to a decision to cancel your travel plans, that cancellation may not be covered if the cancellation was due to a pre-existing medical condition.

2. Check your destination

To get the latest health and security information about where you’re going, you have a number of sources outside of the standard media coverage.

Check out our topic on the Best Places for Travel Health and Safety Info for more details.

3. Check your travel mileage

How far you travel factors into a number of travel insurance benefits. Most travel insurance policies limit the coverage unless a traveler is going a certain distance from home. For example:

  • If you’re traveling abroad, you are likely to be outside your health insurance network on your trip. That means you won’t have benefits for emergency medical treatment without travel medical coverage.

  • If you’re traveling within your home country, the benefits for medical evacuations and repatriation may not be in effect.

The key is to be sure your destination is far enough to warrant the coverage you’re paying for.

4. Know your trip activities

The activities you do on your trip could render your coverage invalid. Travel insurance plans typically exclude a number of activities that are considered more hazardous than say running along the beach in the dark. Specifically activities like parasailing, hang-gliding, mountain sports, diving and more are excluded from the typical plan unless you purchase an upgrade.

Some travel insurance plans are designed specifically for adventure travelers, but even if you’re a typical traveler and don’t plan on doing anything potentially dangerous, you could run into a unique opportunity to do something adventurous on your trip.

Take out your travel insurance policy documentation and read the section labeled ‘Exclusions’ to know which activities could cause your policy to be useless. You don’t want to find out that rock climbing is a non-covered activity after you fall and get hurt. Know ahead of time.

5. Double check the dates

In the chaos of planning a trip, the dates may get shuffled around a little so you can get the best airfare or meet a friend while waiting for a connecting flight. The key is to double check that the dates you are traveling are the dates you’re covered for with your travel insurance plan. Everything has to match up correctly if you later have to make a travel insurance claim.

The same is true for the traveler’s ages, names, etc. Scrutinize the details and call your travel insurance provider as soon as you identify a discrepancy so the change can be made ahead of time. Once you depart, these changes can’t be made.

6. Verify your layovers

Travel insurance coverage for trip delays and missed connections comes with the standard caveat that you gave yourself enough time from the start. If you schedule a multi-stop flight with tight connections and the first flight is delayed for an hour due to mechanical repairs, you could throw off your entire trip.

Even worse, if the delay means you incur a loss and want to make a claim on your travel insurance plan they will verify that you had enough time to make your connection.

7. Check the policy limits

Every insurance plan has limits applied to the coverage. The baggage limits, for example, may not be enough to fully reimburse you for a lost bag and it’s contents (depending on what you’re taking with you). Where the limits really get sticky are when it comes to medical and evacuation coverage. Specifically, you want to have enough coverage to pay for these events should they occur, but you don’t want to pay too much for coverage you may never use.

It’s a tricky balance, but luckily our travel insurance comparison tool offers some suggestions based on your age, your destination, etc. to help you determine how much travel medical and evacuation is enough.

8. Don’t make assumptions

Don’t make assumptions about your travel insurance coverage. Many travelers read that their policy covers trip cancellation, for example, and assume it means the plan will cover no matter what causes the cancellation. Or, they read that their plan covers travel delays but they don’t understand that the delay must meet a minimum number of hours.

If you have a specific concern, read your travel insurance policy (or the description of coverage) before you buy or or soon after so you understand your concerns are covered.

If you’re worried about the possibility of losing your job, for example, and you want to be sure you can cancel your trip and be reimbursed your non-refundable trip costs, make sure that job loss is listed as a covered reason and that your length of employment meets the requirements (usually at least a year is required).

Getting the right travel insurance takes a little bit of thinking, some research, and a careful review of the policy you choose. It’s not hard, but it does take a little effort on your part. See the 9 Most Expensive Travel Mistakes You’re Likely to Make for more details on what to watch out for.

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Travel Guide

Brian Altomare on Shark Tank lessons, reducing covid-19 risk by minimizing time at the airport, and making your bed (Safe Travels #24)

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Today I’m speaking with Brian Altomare from Lugless.com.

Even though most travel is still shut down, some parts of the country are starting to move around again.

I was curious about getting some advice for those who were still concerned about coronavirus, but who needed to fly whether for work or other necessary reason.

What could they do to minimize exposure and get through the flying process with as little concern as possible?

Today’s show is a little different, because there is definitely a product pitch…but it’s a service that can help minimize your time in the airport and make your trip more worry-free.

I’m speaking with Brian Altomare who founded a luggage shipping service called LugLess.

Brian pitched this on Shark Tank years ago, and even though that didn’t go the way he wanted…he still grew the company and thrived…and it was later acquired.

Brian will talk about how this service minimizes your airport time and therefore your exposure to coronavirus.

He’ll talk about his Shark Tank experience.

Then in a departure from the norm for Safe Travels, he offers some entrepreneurial advice for those who might have an idea they want to run with.

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes & Timestamps

  • Lessons learned from the Shark Tank pitch 00:03:11
  • How LugLess helps reduce exposure at the airport 00:04:19
  • Who benefits most from LugLess? 00:10:14
  • Key success tips for entrepreneurs starting out 00:13:43
  • Avoiding startup mistakes 00:15:22
  • Work/life balance 00:16:35
  • The magic of making your bed…every day 00:18:3

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Travel Guide

Jeff Crider on campground procedures during coronavirus, beginner tips, and the “marriage saving RV parking service” (Safe Travels #23)

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In this episode we are talking about RV travel for the summer of 2020, and how to handle coronavirus concerns.

I’m joined by Jeff Crider, who is a publisher and author for several RV and campground-related publications, and has been in the business for decades.

Jeff is especially tuned into campgrounds and their specific procedures for handling coronavirus concerns this summer. He will share some of the actions campgrounds are taking, tips for smooth travels this summer, and some common mistakes that new RVers make and how you can avoid them.

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Show Notes & Timestamps

  • Current status of campgrounds with covid-19 00:03:53
  • On the need for extra homework in researching trips this year 00:04:47
  • Resources for campground status 00:06:12
  • Why tent campers might have a harder time 00:09:14
  • RV travel as a safe “social distancing” form of travel 00:13:05
  • General tips for new RVers 00:21:18
  • Tips on backing and asking for help 00:23:34
  • Common mistakes and how to avoid them 00:25:16
  • On renting vs buying 00:31:14

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Travel Guide

Leslie Stroud on coronavirus lockdown in New Zealand, full-time travel with 5 kids, and “roadschooling” (Safe Travels #22)

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In this episode I speak with Leslie Stroud of 7Wayfinders.com.

She and her family (5 kids!) were traveling the world full-time when coronavirus came along and brought their plans to a halt….in New Zealand.

Leslie talks about the very strict and thorough safety lockdown in New Zealand, handling this with kids, and plans to get out when things open up again.

She also shares family travel tips, advice for road-schooling, and more.

Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes & Timestamps

  • On the overwhelming decision to travel full time as a family 00:06:41
  • Coronavirus lockdown in New Zealand 00:10:10
  • The thorough safety measure in NZ 00:11:48
  • Tips for full-time travel with a family 00:18:57
  • Mistakes to avoid when traveling with kids 00:22:25
  • Misconceptions of traveling with kids 00:24:43
  • Advice for “Road-schooling” 00:27:18

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