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Five Considerations When Buying Travel Insurance

Updated on February 7, 2012
Thinking about travel insurance? Do your research before you buy.
Thinking about travel insurance? Do your research before you buy. | Source

1) Trip cancellation coverage is a popular type of travel insurance, but always check for policy restrictions. For instance, not all policies are "cancel for any reason" policies. This means that the policy will only pay if the trip is cancelled for one of their accepted reasons. Ask for specific exclusions before purchasing the policy. Also ask exactly what expenses are covered. Keep in mind that trip cancellation insurance will not pay for the refundable portions of a trip, so if your tickets or reservations are fully refundable, trip cancellation insurance may be an unnecessary expense.

2) Do you need medical coverage? Depending on the coverage provided by your regular insurance, a separate medical insurance policy for your trip may be an unnecessary expense. Check with your insurer to see how your coverage extends away from home. Most health insurance policies routinely provide coverage domestically, but you may need additional coverage if travelling overseas.

3) What about coverage for personal property? People assume that their homeowner's or renter's policies will also cover their personal property when travelling. Most policies do, at least partially, and that's where it pays to check before leaving home. Some policies specify partial coverage, or may exclude certain items. When you contact your agent about the property coverage, ask if your liability coverage extends 'off site' as well. This could be useful information if you knock over the television set in your hotel room.

4) With any type of travel insurance, ask how claims are handled before you make the final purchase decision. Will expenses be paid up front by the insurer, or will you have to pay out of pocket and submit a claim for reimbursement? It's fairly common for medical expenses to be paid directly by the insurance company, but for most other expenses, expect to be reimbursed at a later date. Equally as important, do you have to notify the company immediately to be eligible for that reimbursement? And is there a 24 hours number for emergency assistance?

5) Getting the coverage you need at the best price is always a plus, but make sure that you're comparing apples to apples. A bargain price isn't really a bargain if you are missing coverages you need while paying for coverage that you don't. Comparison shopping doesn't have to involve visiting dozens of websites or talking to dozens of agents. It can be as easy as visiting a site like Squaremouth.com.

At Squaremouth, you can compare some 250 travel insurance and international medical insurance providers. You can even get your quote and buy directly through the site. And while no site can promise perfection, Squaremouth has a 'zero complaint' policy. If you have a complaint about a carrier after buying a policy through Squaremouth, the complaint must be satisfactorily resolved or Squaremouth will remove the carrier from their site.

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