Travel Insurance Checklist: Your Must-Haves Before Jetsetting Off

by Emma

Once upon a pre-COVID-19 time, the only concern you had was successfully getting through a routine security check. Now, with domestic and international travel full of uncertainty, understanding the ins and outs of your travel insurance policy before setting foot outside your front door is essential. Anything can go wrong when traveling, from accidents and illness to natural disasters and flight cancellations.

The medical coverage box of a travel insurance policy is the most important and complex option you need to pay attention to. It’s important to ensure that your travel insurance policy covers both emergency medical costs and emergency medical transportation costs when traveling in a foreign country.

Now, more than ever, travelers must read the fine print of travel insurance policies for restrictions and inclusions. Your travel insurance policy should include worldwide medical benefits and low deductibles for out-of-pocket costs. As a general rule of thumb, it’s a smart idea to carry a minimum of $50,000 of emergency medical expenses and $250,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage. You need to ensure the policy provides coverage for epidemics and pandemics and ensures the provider has experience handling international claims, including payments in foreign currencies.

Travel Insurance 101

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Comparing travel insurance policies depends on your circumstances and the nature of your travel plans. Are you traveling internationally or within the United States? Travel insurance usually provides coverage for unforeseen circumstances before, during, or after your travels. These circumstances include medical expenses from personal injury or illness, loss or left of luggage or personal belongings, and canceled, missed, or delayed airplanes, and any resulting accommodation issues.

The best way to cover yourself and your trip is to purchase a travel insurance policy as soon as you confirm your domestic or international travel plans. You pay only for the time you are traveling, but your policy covers you from the moment it’s purchased.

Look for these coverage minimums.

You need to be aware of certain coverage minimums when it comes to a travel insurance policy. When traveling to a foreign country that’s considered hazardous, you need to know exactly what you are insured for. Amidst COVID-19, you should seek a policy with a minimum of $50,000 of emergency medical expenses and $250,000 of emergency medical evacuation coverage.

Talk with your health insurance provider about your travel plans and determine if your existing health care policy is effective in emergency medical situations abroad. If either emergency medical expenses or emergency medical evacuation coverage isn’t covered, seek a travel insurance policy that will provide the coverage you need.

Are pandemics covered?

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Many travel insurance companies have opted not to cover COVID-19-related claims since the virus was classified as a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. Some providers will cover COVID-19-related medical expenses that occur on holiday so long as the destination isn’t on a non-essential travel list before departure. Not all travel insurance policies cover non-medical issues like flight or hotel cancellations, so be sure to ask about cancellation coverage related to the pandemic.

What about trip cancellation?

Flight and hotel cancellations are part of the travel experience, but with COVID-19 causing new disruptions daily, it’s unlikely a policy will cover such issues now. You can typically request a refund or postpone your travel plans directly with the airline, hotel, or tour operator if any part of your pre-booked travels is canceled.

What if I cancel?

Let’s say you booked a holiday to a foreign country that fell under the government non-essential travel advisory list and later changed your mind. Don’t expect your travel insurance policy to cover your trip if you choose to cancel your itinerary. You might be able to file a claim if you have to cancel your trip due to a last-minute update in government travel advice.

The best way to keep up with the latest precautions and travel advisories is to monitor a federal website such as the U.S. Department of State. Always practice the safety measures outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) by wearing a mask in public places, routinely washing your hands and using hand sanitizer, and maintain a social distance of 1.5 meters.

Once you know what you need in a travel insurance policy, perform your due diligence on all your considering policies. Carefully read all the fine print and if you have any doubts or questions about what’s covered, contact the insurance provider directly for clarification.

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