Travelers of all types buy travel insurance coverage: singles, families, honeymooners, seniors, volunteer vacationers, even business travelers. Every traveler and every trip is different, but understanding the benefits and exclusions is important to choosing the right policy or package plan.
Note: In each example, a range of coverage represents the high and low. Actual benefits will depend on the plan you choose.
Travelers have to cancel their trips for lots of reasons, including:
This benefit reimburses 100% of your pre-paid, non refundable expenses if you have to cancel your trip for a covered reason.
There are times when travelers must end their trip and return home. Similar to trip cancellations above, trip interruptions come in many forms, including an ill parent, a business going into bankruptcy, mandatory evacuations, and more.
This benefit reimburses up to 150% of the unused trip costs and often additional money for return airfare if you have to end your trip for a covered reason.
“Cancel for any reason”
At times, travelers face situations that cause a trip cancellation for a reason that is not covered under standard cancellation coverage.
This benefit allows you to cancel within a specified number of hours prior to your departure for any reason at all. This coverage must be purchased within a certain number of days from the initial trip deposit (usually 10-15).
“Cancel for work reasons”
Employment changes can force travelers to cancel their trips. Some work-related reasons include: orders to relocate, being required to work, termination, and more.
This benefit provides 100% reimbursement of non refundable costs if you have to cancel your trip for a work reason. It must be purchased within a certain number of days (usually 14-21) from the initial deposit.
If a traveler is injured or becomes ill during a trip abroad, it’s likely their health insurance from home won’t cover the associated expenses. A dental emergency, such as a broken tooth, can cause a traveler significant pain, but ignoring the problem until they get home means risking permanent damage or extensive expenses later.
This benefit provides from $10,000 to $250,000 in medical benefits for medical transportation, physician’s expenses, drugs, x-rays, and more. This coverage also pays for emergency dental treatment (limited to a per-tooth maximum between $100 and $250 on average) to resolve acute pain or an injury to natural teeth.
If a traveler is injured or killed on their trip and an evacuation is necessary, that transportation can be very expensive and difficult to arrange. Once initial medical treatment is received, the traveler will also have to get home, often requiring a specially equipped and staffed medical flight.
This benefit pays for medically necessary evacuations or the repatriation of a traveler’s remains to their primary residence. Coverage limits range between $25,000 and $1,000,000.
Pre-existing medical condition coverage
A pre-existing medical condition is any condition that a traveler has experienced the symptoms of or has had diagnosed and treated prior to their trip.
This benefit is treated as a waiver to the exclusion in a travel plan. It provides protection for medical expenses that result from a recurring condition. Restrictions apply to this coverage.
Airline coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged baggage is limited, but a traveler’s risk is not limited to the airlines. Bags can be stolen from a taxi, crushed by a truck, even dropped in the ocean.
Baggage coverage provides replacement value (with maximum limits for any single item) for the items inside as well as replacing the luggage itself.
Baggage delay coverage
When a traveler’s luggage fails to arrive with the traveler, the initial days of a trip can be very difficult without necessary personal items.
Coverage for delayed baggage provides a certain amount (from $100 to $500 depending on the plan) to purchase the essentials, like toothpaste, clothing, and more.
Missed connection coverage
For travelers on a schedule with departure deadlines, one missed connection can mean disaster. Missed connections occur as a result of severe weather, labor strikes, even overbooking errors.
This benefit provides a certain amount (from $250 to $2,500) for alternative transportation to get your trip back on schedule and “catch up” to the cruise at the next port-of-call.
Travel delay coverage
Travel delays come in a variety of forms, including weather delays, flight operation delays, union strikes, and more, but the airlines don’t provide a lot of coverage for delays.
This benefit reimburses you a certain amount each day for basic expenses, such as a hotel room and meals, if your trip is delayed for a covered reason. This coverage starts when the delay reaches a certain number of hours (from 6-12 hours depending on the plan).
Car rental collision coverage
If a traveler rents a vehicle and it’s damaged or stolen, the coverage they have from home might not provide for all the related costs, and if it does making a claim will increase your rates significantly.
This benefit provides protection for the cost of repairs and rental charges imposed by the rental company up to the amounts defined in the policy.
Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D)
Unfortunate travel accidents may cause permanent disability or the death of a traveler.
Accidental death and dismemberment coverage pays an indemnity up to the covered amount for the loss of life or functioning limbs to you or your beneficiary(ies).
Flight accidents are those that occur during the airline portion of a traveler’s journey. Some travel insurance plans consider this protection to be AD&D, and some consider it to be life insurance only.
This benefit is often included with a policy’s AD&D protection, but if it is separate, it pays an indemnity up to the covered amount if the insured loses their life or is critically injured due to a flight accident.
A traveler may encounter an unsafe situation caused by local political events, military uprising, civil protests, or impending natural disasters. Escaping these situations can be difficult depending on the traveler’s knowledge of the local area, his or her ability to communicate in the local language, and whether commercial transportation services are even available.
Security and political evacuation coverage provides the coordination and funds necessary to rescue insured travelers from a dangerous situation to a place of safety. Once the danger has cleared, the traveler is then returned home or back to the originating country.
24/7 assistance services
When a traveler is in a foreign county, they may need multi-lingual support to locate medical care, arrange alternative or emergency transportation, track lost luggage, and more.
This benefit ensures that you have the support to find medical assistance, get general travel assistance, restore your identification, and more. While this benefit is standard with most travel plans, the type of help that can be provided by the operators differs from company to company.
Travel medical assistance
When a traveler is experiencing a medical emergency, their needs may stretch beyond the simple need for medical care. They may need transportation, communication with their physician, a second opinion, and more.
While nearly all travel plans have assistance services, this coverage is associated with medical emergencies. Operators can arrange telephone conferences with doctors, relay emergency messages back home, and arrange evacuations.
Roadside assistance services
Getting a flat tire or locking your keys in the car is bad enough at home, but when you are traveling, it can be dangerous. A traveler driving a foreign car in an unfamiliar area will have difficulty changing a tire on their own. Being locked outside your car is dangerous in any situation.
Within the range of assistance services, some travel protection plans include roadside assistance for common driving hazards.
The traditional concierge is capable of obtaining last-minute tickets, scoring restaurant reservations, tee times, and spa reservations, and more. While many hotels have eliminated this position from their staff, some travel plans include it in their assistance services.
To enhance a trip experience, travelers with this benefit on their travel insurance plan can contact a hot-line for concierge services.
Business assistance services
Business travelers face a unique set of problems when traveling. They may need special equipment, an interpreter, event planning support, and more.
Assistance services can often help business travelers with their needs.
Identity theft services
If an identity theft occurs while traveling, the traveler may not know until it causes them trouble on their trip. With identity theft on the rise around the globe, travelers can’t be too careful.
With this coverage, fraud specialists will help you report the theft. Some plans also provide guidance to restore your credit profile.
Passport/credit card services
When a traveler’s credit cards or passport are stolen on a trip, the traveler will have trouble paying for day-to-day expenses and a terrible time getting home.
This benefit provides assistance to get replacement documents so you can return to your home country. In some cases, this coverage allows you some emergency cash until your credit card can be replaced.
Return of minor children
Should a traveler who is traveling with a minor child(ren) be hospitalized due to a covered illness or injury, they will likely have to leave their child(ren) unattended.
This benefit provides payment for airfare and, if necessary, the costs related to an escort (up to the limits defined by the policy) to return the child(ren) to their home country.
Emergency medical reunion
When a serious illness, medical evacuation, or repatriation occurs, an individual close to the traveler may need to be with them.
This benefit provides payment for airfare and accommodation expenses (not to exceed the daily limit set by the policy) for one person to be reunited with the hospitalized traveler.
If a traveler is delayed from returning home due to an unforeseen event or illness, their pre-arranged pet care may not be enough.
This coverage provides payment for additional boarding or care costs if your trip is delayed for a certain amount of time (usually after 24 hours).
Adventure travelers should understand that most travel insurance policies do not cover accidents sustained while participating in activities such as hang gliding, paragliding, bungee jumping, and more.
This benefit adds an optional rider to a trip insurance plan to provide medical coverage for injuries sustained while participating in adventure activities. Each travel insurance company defines adventurous activities differently, so it is important to review the plan details.
Travelers competing in a sport should know that most travel insurance policies do not cover injuries sustained while participating in these activities, including student sporting events. In addition, there is usually no coverage for sports equipment such as skis, bikes, or golf clubs.
This benefit adds medical coverage for injuries sustained while participating in sports. Some plans provide reimbursement (usually no more than $600) to rent equipment if yours is stolen, damaged, or delayed en route. Each travel insurance company defines sports activities differently so it is important to understand the plan.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.