We all know international travel is very different from domestic trips, but what does it take to insure a domestic trip versus an international one? What qualifies as an international trip?
For Americans, any trip outside the borders of our home country is considered international – including quick trips across the border into Canada or Mexico. It doesn’t have to be far away and involves many hours of travel to qualify as an international trip.
How to insure domestic travel versus international travel is a question many travelers have, but if you remember that anytime you’re outside the border of your home country, it’s international that will help.
The following are some important tips to consider when insuring your next trip – international or domestic.
Typically, but not always, an international trip will require higher pre-paid trip costs. Many of those expenses are non-refundable because even hotels and tour operators have gotten into the ‘no refunds’ game the airlines have been playing for many years. Most will give you a voucher for future travel, but if you can’t make that trip later, you’re out the money you spent.
Trip cancellation is important coverage whenever you have invested a significant amount of money you don’t care to lose. While you may not believe there will be any reason you have to cancel your trip, you simply cannot predict the future. Even domestic trips that are expensive are worth covering with trip cancellation protection because it’s cheap peace of mind.
Traveling outside your home country typically means traveling outside your health insurance network, that is, where your health insurance coverage is not in effect. Essentially, it’s like having no insurance at all. If you’re a visitor in a foreign country, you don’t usually have access to ‘free’ medical care either, and many doctors and hospitals will expect payment for your treatment prior to treating you.
If you cannot pay, they’ll usually get you comfortable and wait until you can contact family and friends back home to raise the money you need. When you consider that most travelers can get travel medical insurance for less than a dollar a day, it really becomes a no-brainer when traveling outside your health insurance network.
Some domestic trips mean more hazardous travel – skiing and snowboarding, for example, SCUBA diving, is another. If you’re traveling outside your health insurance network and participating in a hazardous sports activity, having a travel medical insurance plan can fill in the gaps if you are outside your network and facing out-of-network costs, which can be far higher.
When you consider that medical care inside the U.S. is some of the highest in the globe, having plenty of protection is important – even if you’re traveling inside your home country. While your own health insurance plan will usually act as primary coverage, your travel health insurance can cover your out-of-pocket expenses up to the plan limit. Just be sure that you have coverage for the hazardous activities you’re planning to do with your travel insurance plan (not all plans include this coverage).
If a traveler is injured or killed on their trip and an evacuation or repatriation (the return of the dead traveler’s body) is necessary, that transportation can be very expensive. Travel insurance plans typically include this type of coverage, but it only applies when the traveler is outside their home country. If you’re traveling domestically, this coverage won’t be of much help to you at all.
If you’ve ever tried to buy a pair of jeans in another country, you may be surprised at the cost. Sure, some countries have very cheap prices on local clothing but if you’re trying to replace the items in a bag that’s been stolen it can mean a very expensive shopping trip – one you hadn’t planned on taking.
The coverage you get for lost or delayed bags through the airlines is limited, and travel insurance coverage for lost, destroyed, or stolen bags can help offset the cost of replacing your clothing and personal items until you return home. This can be useful coverage for both domestic and international trips.
Travel delays come in all forms – weather delays, flight operation problems, mechanical situations – and the airlines don’t provide a lot of support for waiting travelers. If the delay is for reasons of weather, you could be paying for unplanned-for hotel rooms, meals, and taxi rides all when your target destination is waiting for you.
Travel delay coverage with your travel insurance plan can reimburse you for those expenses if the delay reaches a certain number of hours. If you’re stuck in a hotel in Germany waiting for a blizzard to clear, it’s far nicer than waiting in the airport.
If you’re traveling with your kids, you want to know that they will be safe even if something happens to you. If you are hospitalized and your children are left unattended, a good travel insurance provider will step in and make sure that the kids are cared for, returned to your home country into the hands of a relative or friend, and safe.
Return of minor children is a benefit most parents don’t think about, but if you’re badly injured in a traffic accident and they come through unscathed, knowing someone has an eye on them is peace of mind.
Ultimately, it’s important to think about what risks you face on any trip you take, verify the coverage you have for the trip you’re taking, then compare plans and purchase travel insurance to cover those gaps when you need it.
Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and he believes travel insurance should be easier to understand. He started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.