Many of us are usually so optimistic (and budget conscious) on our vacations that we don’t bother with travel insurance. Travel insurance can take the fun and freedom – which is the raison d’être – out of travel.
It’s true that sometimes the risks may be too low for travel insurance to be worth the cost, such as on a golfing trip to Florida. But a South East Asian holiday in the tropics in monsoon where you contract malaria, or getting robbed on holiday in a Paris subway train, can all be taken care of by your travel insurance. Finding a cheap travel insurance plan may be worth the effort for such holidays. Whatever the destination, travel insurance can be expensive. But savvy travelers will tell you that there are quite a few ways in which you can save your insurance dollars to spend on having fun. Here’s a look at some of these.
Compare insurance rates before you commit
Most people don’t take the trouble of shopping around for travel insurance, and go with whatever their travel operators are offering. These can, however, be as much as four to five times more expensive than the rates offered by insurance companies. While your travel agent may claim that his company offers free insurance with its travel packages, you should be aware that most of the time, the expense is hidden in the overall package cost. So you’ll really be paying more for your holiday package than you should. Call an insurance agent or two to find out the travel insurance policies they are offering, compare these with your travel agent quotes and you’ll find you can probably save a few hundred dollars.
Take advantage of frequent traveler benefits
If you travel often (that is, at least more than 3 times in a year), single travel insurance policies may turn out to be more expensive. In such cases, you can avail of yearly multi-trip insurance policies to make your insurance expenses cheaper. Besides appealing to business travelers, these multi-trip policies are becoming more and more common with families taking several vacations in a year. Also for backpackers who are planning holidays for longer durations of a few months or more, there are specially designed long-term insurance policies that don’t require additional expenses.
Groups and families have special insurance covers
For large groups and families who don’t travel as often, single policies may turn out to be too expensive as well. There are group covers which are good for wedding parties traveling abroad, overseas club activities etc. Group covers usually provide coverage for things like luggage, medical emergencies, cancellations or lost possessions, though there may be exclusions based on age (usually senior citizens) and nationality. Family covers usually extend to two adults and up to four children, but make sure to read the fine print as inclusions vary from one insurer to another. Such group policies will usually, however, cost far less than the total cost of buying a policy for each family member.
Besides cost, also consider level of coverage
While cost is a major factor, it’s also important to make sure that you’re buying coverage that is worthwhile, and not just cheap. If you’re on a potentially high-risk holiday, it just doesn’t make sense to buy the cheapest coverage that may not be the best. Look for policies that give you sufficient coverage – medical expenses, luggage, cash loss, personal liability, cancellations and legal costs are some of the basic coverage you should look for.
It is also important that you compare the amounts of compensations offered by each policy. If you buy the cheapest policies that offer very low compensations for your lost luggage or medical expenses, it may not be worthwhile. It is wiser to shell out a few more dollars for a policy that is affordable but offers sufficient coverage at the same time.
One of the questions you need to decide when buying your policy is whether you need worldwide comprehensive coverage including or excluding the US, Canada and Caribbean or a European coverage. You should also make certain that you be compensated if your holiday is cancelled and that the compensation amount for valuables, baggage and cash is enough. Make sure that you declare any medical conditions you may be suffering from in advance, or your claim may be denied. Senior citizens over 65 may need to see a specialist insurer for policies. Also find out whether your policy will cover any activities such as skiing and rafting on your holiday.