How to choose the right travel insurance for your next vacation

It’s going to be a big year for travel insurance. Really big. But do you have the right travel insurance?

A survey by the travel insurance comparison site Squaremouth predicts 24% more travelers will insure their international trips in 2019 than last year. Generali, the travel insurance company, says travelers spent an average of $139 per trip on insurance in 2018, unchanged from the previous year.

So do you have your travel insurance picked out already?

“The right insurance policy will protect you from unexpected issues that may arise,” says Justin Tysdal, travel insurance expert and CEO of Seven Corners. “Something as simple as twisting an ankle in a foreign country may not be covered by your medical insurance and could result in expensive medical bills.”

To find the right policy, you have to know what kind of travel insurance is out there. The rest – knowing where to shop and buy the policy – is easier. But whatever you do, don’t skip the insurance.

Not this year.

What kind of travel insurance is available?

Stand-alone travel insurance falls into two broad categories: the more common but restrictive “named perils” policies, and the less common but less restrictive “cancel for any reason” policies. Your credit card, auto insurance or medical insurance may also cover part of your trip. But it may not cover you as comprehensively as travel insurance.

If you’re considering travel insurance, you’re probably looking at a named perils policy offered through an online comparison site like Squaremouth or TravelInsurance.com, or directly through an insurance company like Generali or Allianz Travel Insurance.

But you should also consider the second variety, “cancel for any reason.” It costs more – about 40% more than a named perils policy. It could be money well spent, according to Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO of VisitorsCoverage.com, a travel insurance site. The policy will cover you no matter what happens, including circumstances that regular insurance won’t cover, such as a civil disturbance or a mental health claim.

“Travelers who purchase ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage can cancel their upcoming plans and recoup from 50% to 75% of their prepaid expenses,” he adds.

What travel insurance to buy

The next step is matching your coverage to your needs. For example, I’m on the road so often that I have an annual policy that covers my family and me. To be safe, I also have an annual MedjetHorizon membership for the whole gang, which covers medical evacuations. You might not need as much coverage if you travel less.

Quincy Smith, a former English teacher who worked abroad, reads the travel insurance policy terms carefully.

“The main thing I consider, in addition to overall company reviews, is the medical coverage in relation to the average prices in the country where I am going,” he says. “For example, $15,000 worth of coverage might be adequate for Thailand, but I’d likely up it to $50,000 or $100,000 if I were going to Europe. The price difference of the policy isn’t significant and it gives me peace of mind that I’ll be fully covered in more expensive countries.”

Then again, if you only need to insure one aspect of your trip, you might want to go a little smaller. Take your rental car: Your auto insurance or your credit card might already cover you, or you can buy a stand-alone car rental policy through a site like InsureMyRentalCar.com.

Where to buy the right travel insurance

Smith prefers to shop for his policies at InsureMyTrip.com, one of several travel insurance sites. You can also easily find and compare policies at VisitorsCoverage.com or G1G.com. A comparison site is a great place to start, but it’s not the only place you can buy a policy.

Many travel companies, especially airlines and online travel agencies, will offer a policy when you book a trip. Experts say you should read that policy carefully before buying; some of them are “lite” versions of the policies sold through a travel insurance company, with significant restrictions. You might also consult your travel agent or insurance agent on which policies you should consider. That’s particularly helpful when you’re not sure what you need to cover. A qualified agent will help you sort through all of that.

Above all, make sure you consider insurance well before you leave. If you’re considering a “cancel for any reason” policy, for example, you have 20 days from the time of your trip purchase to buy a policy. After that, you may be stuck with a less comprehensive policy.

This is the year to consider a travel insurance policy, given all the global insecurities and the increasingly restrictive policies of travel companies.

“If you can’t afford travel insurance,” says Sheryl Hill, the founder of the travel nonprofit Depart Smart, “you can’t afford to travel.”

How to get the right travel insurance for your next trip

Here’s how to tell if you need insurance for your next trip.

• If you’re spending a significant amount of money – more than $5,000 – on the trip.

• If you’re taking a cruise or package tour. These companies are typically reluctant to offer refunds for components of the trip that you miss because of an illness.

• If you’re on Medicare and are traveling internationally. Medicare doesn’t typically cover events outside of the country.

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Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Seven Corners

Seven Corners has helped customers all over the world with travel difficulties, big and small. As one of the few remaining privately owned travel insurance companies, Seven Corners provides insurance plans and 24/7 travel assistance services to more than a million people each year. Because we’re privately held, we can focus on the customer without the constraints that larger companies have. Visit Seven Corners to learn more.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Cavalry Travel Insurance

Cavalry takes the worry of out travel by providing 24/7 access to medical and security professionals combined with the best medical evacuation and security extraction services. Cavalry gets you home safely when you need it most. Learn more at Cavalrytravelinsurance.com.

Underwritten by Sodexo North America

Sodexo North America Sodexo North America is part of a global, Fortune 500 company with a presence in 80 countries. Sodexo is a leading provider of integrated food, facilities management and other services that enhance organizational performance, contribute to local communities and improve quality of life for millions of customers in corporate, education, healthcare, senior living, sports and leisure, government and other environments daily. Learn more at Sodexoinsights.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten Travelex Insurance Services

Travelex Insurance Services is a leading travel insurance provider in the United States with over 55 years combined industry expertise of helping people dream, explore and travel with confidence. We offer comprehensive travel insurance plans with optional upgrades allowing travelers to customize the plans to fit their needs. Compare plans, get a quote and buy online at Travelexinsurance.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by AirHelp

AirHelp is the world’s leading flight delays compensation company, helping passengers apply for compensation following a delayed or canceled flight or when boarding has been denied. It is AirHelp’s mission to fight for passenger rights by holding airlines accountable for flights disruptions that are out of passengers’ control. AirHelp has already helped 5 million people, taking the stress out of applying for compensation and making it as hassle-free as possible for travelers around the world.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Allianz Travel Insurance

The Allianz Travel Insurance company has built its reputation on partnering with agents all around the world to provide comprehensive travel insurance for their clients. Contact Allianz Travel Insurance for a comprehensive list of coverage.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Chubb

Chubb is the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company, and recognized as the premier provider of insurance for successful individuals and families in the U.S. and selected international markets, offering coverage for high-value automobile, homeowners, recreational marine/aviation, valuables and umbrella liability coverage. As an underwriting company, Chubb assesses, assumes and manages risk with insight and discipline, and combines the precision of craftsmanship with decades of experience to conceive, craft and deliver the best insurance coverage and services to individuals, families and business of all size.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Enterprise

A family-owned, world-class portfolio of brands. A global network that spans across more than 85 countries. Some 97,000 dedicated team members sharing common values. And more than 1.9 million vehicles taking our customers wherever they need to go.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Fareportal

Fareportal’s portfolio of brands, which include  CheapOair and  OneTravel, are dedicated to helping customers enjoy their trip. Whether you want to call, click, or use one of our travel apps, one thing is clear: We make it easy to take it easy.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Insuremyrentalcar.com

An independent provider of low cost CDW/LDW insurance for use with rental cars. Up to $100,000 cover with no deductible. Policies available on a per day, per trip or per year basis. Also works with overseas rentals. Try  Insuremyrentalcar.comnow.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Mediacom Communications

The nation’s fifth-largest cable operator, serving the smaller cities and towns in the Midwest and Southern regions of the United States. We are a high-performance broadband, entertainment, and communications company that brings the power of modern technology and quality customer experience to life inside the connected home by combining ultra-fast gigabit speeds with personalized local and over-the-top entertainment choices that fit your lifestyle. Details at  Mediacomcable.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Arch RoamRight

Arch RoamRight is one of the fastest growing, most-highly rated travel insurance companies in the United States. Travel advisors love working with us, and travelers feel protected with our trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage. We also make it easy to file a claim online with our fast, paperless claims website. Learn more about RoamRight travel insurance.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Virtuoso

The leading global network for luxury and experiential travel. This invitation-only organization comprises over 1,000 travel agency locations with 17,500 advisors in over 45 countries, and holds preferred relationships with 1,700 of the world’s finest travel companies. Virtuoso advisors collaborate with their clients to create personalized itineraries featuring exclusive perks, while also providing advice, access, advocacy, and accountability. For more information, visit  Virtuoso.com.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by VisitorsCoverage

As a company that is constantly striving to simplify travel insurance, VisitorsCoverage, is on a mission to help travelers make the better decisions about purchasing travel insurance, quickly. VisitorsCoverage has helped millions of travelers globally to buy the suitable travel insurance and explore the world with confidence. Get insurance for your next trip at  VisitorsCoverage. Lowest Price Guaranteed.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by MedjetAssist

Medjet is the premier global air-medical transport, travel security and crisis response membership program for travelers. With a MedjetAssist membership, if you become hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, we will get you from that unfamiliar hospital all the way home to the hospital you trust. All you ever pay is your membership fee. MedjetHorizon members add 24/7 personal security and crisis response benefits. Elliott.org readers enjoy discounted rates. Travel safer with  MedjetAssist.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines

The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by TravelInsurance.com

TravelInsurance.com makes it fast and easy to compare and buy travel insurance online from top rated providers. Our unbiased comparison engine allows travelers to read reviews, compare pricing and benefits and buy the right policy with a price guarantee, every time. Compare and buy travel insurance now at  TravelInsurance.com.

Underwritten by Squaremouth

Squaremouth helps travelers easily and instantly compare travel insurance policies from all major providers. Only companies that meet the strict requirements of Squaremouth’s Zero Complaint Guarantee are available on the website. Compare policies on  Squaremouth.com to save over 70 percent on your next purchase.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travel Leaders Group

Travel Leaders Group is transforming travel through its progressive approach toward each unique travel experience. Travel Leaders Group assists millions of travelers through its leisure, business and network travel operations under a variety of diversified divisions and brands including All Aboard Travel, Andrew Harper Travel, Colletts Travel, Corporate Travel Services, CruCon Cruise Outlet, Cruise Specialists, Nexion, Protravel International, SinglesCruise.com, Travel Leaders Corporate, Travel Leaders Network and Tzell Travel Group, and its merger with ALTOUR. With more than 7,000 agency locations and 52,000 travel advisors, Travel Leaders Group ranks as one of the industry’s largest retail travel agency companies.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Travelers United

If you’ve been mistreated by the airlines, Travelers United is your voice in Washington. Join the #1 travel advocacy organization working with Congress to improve and protect travelers. Plus, get $400 of annual benefits you can use for travel for only $29/year. Add your voice to ours. Make travel better.  Join today.