Planning a trip? You might want to consider travel insurance.
You’ve found your flights, rental car and accommodations — and you can’t wait to pack your bags. But before you finalize your next trip, you might want to consider adding travel insurance to your itinerary.
Travel has changed a lot over the past few years, from COVID restrictions to airline issues to economic uncertainty, both in the U.S. and abroad. When you’ve spent time and money planning a long-anticipated vacation, the last thing you want to deal with is financial stress caused by unexpected cancellations, delays, quarantines or other problems.
That’s what makes this a good time to weigh the benefits of purchasing travel insurance before your next trip. Here’s what you need to know about how travel insurance works and how it can help protect you financially from unforeseen events if your travel plans hit a snag.
What does travel insurance cover?
Travel insurance primarily covers your reservations — like those for your airline, hotel and rental car — and unexpected medical expenses incurred while traveling. Coverage can include either reimbursements or services provided to you for eligible events like these:
Trip delays, cancellations or interruptions
Lost, stolen or damaged personal belongings
Emergency medical care and medical evacuation if you get sick or injured during your trip
Most trip cancellation coverage reimburses travelers for non-refundable costs if they cancel their trip due to a covered reason listed in the policy. For greater flexibility, travelers can usually add Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage for an extra fee.
Some, but not all, travel insurance policies include coverage for COVID-related expenses (including if the traveler contracts COVID before or during the trip, or if their plans unexpectedly change due to airline or destination restrictions). That’s why it’s a good idea to review and understand the coverage specifics in advance.
How do you choose a travel insurance policy?
Choosing a policy really depends on your individual circumstances: what type of coverage you want, where you’re going and how complex your travel plans are. For example, if you’re taking a short domestic trip and your biggest concern is coverage for weather delays or cancellations, you likely won’t need as much protection as an international vacation that includes multiple destinations, hotels and airlines.
Travel insurance is often sold as a package, but some insurers let you customize your policy by selecting only the coverage options you need. Note: You might already have some travel coverage benefits. Review these areas first so you’re not paying for double coverage:
Check your health insurance benefits to see if medical expenses are covered at your destination.
Check your homeowners or rental insurance benefits to see if personal property coverage is available to you at your destination in the event of lost, stolen or damaged luggage.
Check your credit card benefits. Many cards offer trip cancellation and rental car insurance when you use the card to book your travel. Commerce Bank credit card holders can take advantage of the following travel protection benefits:
Commerce Bank World Elite Mastercard® gives cardholders access to global emergency services including lost or stolen card reporting, emergency card replacement, urgent cash advances and 24/7 customer service assistance.
Commerce Bank Visa Signature® covers cardholders anywhere in the world and gives them access to a multilingual call center 24/7 as well as medical referral assistance, emergency transportation assistance, prescription assistance, emergency ticket replacement and more.
Where can you buy travel insurance?
You can purchase travel insurance through most of the businesses you use to book travel, such as the airline, travel reservation website or travel agent. You can also buy travel insurance directly through an independent travel insurance company. Since many types of plans are available, and covered events vary by policy, you may want to use a travel insurance comparison site like Travelinsurance.com to view plans from multiple providers at once.
Other factors to consider before you purchase travel insurance
Consider an annual policy if you have multiple short trips planned throughout the year.
Ensure that coverage starts before your trip and lasts for the entirety of your trip — some policies are limited to a specific number of days. For example, if you need to postpone your return due to a quarantine at your destination, make sure your coverage doesn’t expire before you can get home.
Check any travel insurance or medical coverage responsibilities at your destination (some countries require it).
See whether the policy covers just you or your entire family.
Pick coverage specifics carefully since the cost of travel insurance is usually based on what you choose. Costs can vary and are based on factors like your destination, length of trip, number of travelers and additional coverage, like CFAR.
Check the time limits regarding when you can purchase travel insurance — in some cases, you can buy a policy after you’ve booked your trip and up until the time you leave.
As with any type of insurance policy, make sure to read the fine print carefully to understand what’s covered, what’s not and how to file a claim. And be sure to save your receipts and any other documentation in case you do need to file a claim.
Travel insurance can be a financial safety net against unexpected events beyond your control and may well be worth the peace of mind you’ll gain as you get ready to embark on your next adventure.
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