While short weekend getaways usually occur just as planned, life does not follow anyone’s script. Planning and booking an extended vacation in advance allows you to get the best deals, but unforeseen events can disrupt your trip.

Potential issues include last minute problems at work, an illness that affects you or a traveling companion, or the cancellation of flights to certain areas because of hazardous weather. Unless you have a fully refundable contract, you may lose thousands of dollars.

Even if you arrive at your destination, you could still lose your luggage or travel documents, miss subsequent connections or become ill. In these cases, you will need assistance handling the problems or locating proper care. A travel insurance policy helps travelers avoid the cost of these situations. Insurance allows you to minimize the risks that you may face, especially if you are spending a significant amount on a trip to an overseas destination. Like any big-ticket purchase, an expensive vacation should be insured.

What is Travel Insurance?

Whether you plan to travel domestically or internationally, a travel insurance policy is designed to protect you from loss or damages associated with a trip cancellation, flight delays, and medical emergencies. It can also help you if your passport and luggage are lost.

The two main types of policies available are travel medical insurance and trip cancellation policies.

Medical insurance covers accidents and illnesses that may not be covered by your regular health plan provider, especially when traveling internationally. It is designed to cover doctor payments, emergency transport and hospitalization.

Trip cancellation or interruption insurance covers the financial risk of losing deposits and other pre-payments because of an accident, sickness, or a variety of other reasons. The policy may cover you, your traveling companions, and even relatives left at home. This popular type of travel insurance covers common issues that can occur during trips, including cancelations by the carrier, natural calamities, and disasters caused by humans.

What to Look for in a Policy

Each person’s potential loss while traveling will vary based on the cost of the trip, his or her state of health, and which portion of the excursion that is nonrefundable. Selecting the right policy can help protect your trip while providing additional peace of mind. Check with your homeowner’s and health insurance companies for information on travel-related coverage that they provide so that you can avoid the cost of purchasing redundant protection.

Along with individual trip coverage, you can select multi-trip policies that cover all the trips that you plan to take in a calendar year. The best type of coverage for travel will depend on the frequency of your trips and the overall costs. If you travel extensively, purchasing a multi-trip plan is a better option than buying separate policies because it costs less and saves time. You can purchase a couple, family, or group coverage. Look for policies that allow members to travel with a group or independently.

Like other types of insurance, travel policies have varying levels of coverage. You can increase the coverage or add riders for specific destinations, activities, health concerns, or personal valuables. Standard policies should include:

  • Medical expenses of at least $2 million
  • Emergency medical transportation back home
  • Cancellation insurance of at least $2,500
  • Missed departure or delay of $500 or more
  • Baggage coverage of $2,500
  • Personal liability coverage of $2 million or more

Additional insurance based on your destination and health could include dental coverage, lost passport services, and replacement of stolen cash or credit cards. As with any other insurance, the amount of coverage you select should be based on your individual financial circumstances.

What You May Not Know about Travel Insurance

While some people celebrate more than usual while on holiday, most insurers will deny coverage for problems caused by alcohol or illicit drugs. Exclusions may apply, so review the policy carefully.

Because of various political situations around the world, some destinations may not be covered. Coverage varies by company and policy. Worldwide coverage may not include the U.S. and Canada. While some policies covering Europe include Turkey and Egypt, others do not. Check the policy for your specific destination before finalizing the purchase.

Failure to disclose a pre-existing medical condition or inform the company of your plans to participate in potentially hazardous activities like scuba diving or snowboarding may invalidate a claim. Costs also depend on the ages of those traveling.

Popular Travel Insurance Providers

TravelInsurance.com is an online platform that helps consumers locate the policies that best fit their needs. The site enables travelers to quickly compare coverage and prices from a network of leading companies. The organization also provides a variety of travel- and insurance-related tips to educate customers so that they can avoid problems.

Boasting an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, Allianz Global Assistance offers a broad range of single- and multi-trip plans from which to choose. Customers can select comprehensive policies designed to protect individuals, households, and companies from a host of travel-related problems. Travel insurance policies covering a number of events can be customized to fit almost any budget.

Travelex Insurance Services is a member of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association and holds an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. They offer customizable standard and comprehensive policies that feature four different benefit levels. Along with concierge services, Travelex offers emergency medical evacuation and complimentary coverage for accompanied minors depending upon the selected plan.