What to Know About Travel Insurance

In a recent post on travel vaccines, I wrote about getting sick during my vacation in South Africa and how lucky I was that the antibiotic I got ahead of the trip at a travel clinic cured me. If it didn’t, I knew I’d have to go to an unfamiliar hospital in an unfamiliar country, and I had no idea what the cost of treatment would be. However, my fears could have been allayed if I had purchased travel insurance ahead of my trip.

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Don’t let your dream trip turn into a nightmare. Consider buying travel insurance.

Travel insurance offers coverage, not just for the cost of your trip and possessions, but also for medical and dental care should you need treatment in a foreign country. Not every plan offers the same level of protection, however, and not all plans offer every benefit you might be interested in.

For example, I recently booked a trip to Egypt for next year. With the political climate in Egypt being less than stable at the moment, I knew it would be important to find travel insurance that would allow me to cancel the trip in the event of great political unrest.  What I discovered is that political unrest is not covered by most plans, so I had to purchase a plan with a “Cancel for Any Reason” provision.

But while a trip to a very-far off, somewhat volatile country is an obvious example of when to buy travel insurance, it’s actually best to purchase it for every trip you take, according to Kelly, a member of the Vitals Customer Service team and a former travel agent.

“I would definitely recommend it for every trip,” said Kelly.  “Hopefully, it will never be needed, but you never know, and if you’re going on vacation, you want to make sure the only thing on your mind is enjoying yourself.”

When looking at plans, Kelly advises thinking about what your main health insurance will cover while you travel (if anything), any pre-existing conditions you have, the value of your personal possessions and the cost to replace them. Look for a plan that covers hospitalization, 24-hour medical assistance, and repatriation (getting you back home in case anything happens to you).

Be sure to consider what each plan covers, how much is covered,  and if there is a cancel for any reason provision or trip interruption provision.  The cost of the plan will depend on the cost of your trip, your age, and the destination. For perspective, the relatively robust plan I purchased for my $1800 trip to Egypt was about $130 for both me and my husband (ages 28 and 30).

If you’re on the fence about whether to purchase travel insurance, consider how the added expense could save you much more in the long-run. As Kelly said, “it’s all about peace of mind.”

Besides travel insurance, don’t leave home without downloading the Vitals app to find the best care, anywhere in the U.S.