Should I get travel insurance? – Part 2

In our previous post  Should I get travel insurance?  we talked about two main reasons to get travel insurance.  The first involved things that can happen before we travel.  This covers you when you don’t want to leave someone we love at a critical time like a medical emergency. The second reason is about what happens during travel and protecting against medical costs while traveling or trip interruption.

In this post we discuss other questions you need to ask yourself before you purchase insurance.

What kind of travel insurance policy do I need?

Primary or secondary policy:

A primary policy is one that guarantees certain costs upfront.  For example, if you are traveling and suffer chest pains, many hospitals won’t accept you unless you pay up front.  Primary insurance will pay up front.  If you have a secondary policy, you need to pay the hospital out of your own pocket (cash, credit cards if accepted), then file a claim with the insurance company for reimbursement months later.   Most insurance offered directly from the suppliers – the cruise companies, the tour operators – are secondary insurance.  Most third party insurance offered by fine travel agents are primary policies.

Benefits of a primary policy:

A good primary travel insurance policy will also help guide you to the best medical providers, hospitals and evacuation suppliers via a robust and up to date vetting process.  This means that you are not on your own in a foreign country when you are at your most vulnerable.  So which type of policy do you need? For most people the primary policy is preferential, and for some individuals it’s actually cheaper as well.  Cost depends on many things and a really good travel agent can help guide you through a price comparison.

River cruise through a Lock

Do you need travel insurance for this?

When should you purchase?

When to purchase insurance is a question few people ask – but should.  There’s a couple of variables here to consider. First, there’s the payment and cancellation schedule – basically the timing of how much money you are at risk for. The closer to the date of your vacation the more money you are at risk losing which triggers when you should purchase insurance.  But another factor is if you are medically able to travel and if you want the insurance to cover pre-existing conditions.  So timing is important here and a well versed travel agent can guide you on the best time  and amount to purchase insurance.

Who to purchase travel insurance from?

You can buy insurance from suppliers like AmaWaterways, you can buy insurance from third party insurers like Allianz, you buy insurance through credit card companies or even be covered from your health insurance.  So how do you decide where to purchase insurance from?  First, think about if you want primary or secondary insurance (see discussion above).  Next consider if you already have coverage – many of our Canadian customers find that they are already covered by their health insurance; that’s rare for our US clients.  Next consider pricing – depending on your age, the supplier you’re using and the amount of coverage needed – you can get quotes for each option.  Finally consider reputation:  does the supplier typically pay out or are they very difficult to work with?  Again an experienced travel agent can work with you to help you through these questions.

So there you have it:

  • Should you buy travel insurance?   we recommend it (in fact we always buy it for ourselves when we travel).  It can protect you against financial loss in case you unexpectedly have to cancel your vacation, if you have to interrupt your trip or if you need medical help en-route.  Further, if you do seek medical attention while traveling, the insurance can help ensure that you receive top quality care through their vetting process.
  • You need to consider whether you want a primary policy or a secondary policy – we typically purchase primary policy for ourselves.
  • You need to think about when to purchase your insurance
  • Finally, you need to think about who to purchase travel insurance from.

Without a travel agent, you might not even consider some of these issues.  With an average travel agent, you might get a biased opinion.  But with an excellent travel agent who has experience with claims, suppliers, and various insurance companies, you should expect an objective analysis to determine what’s best for you.  Not what’s convenient for the agent or insurance provider.

Have questions or concerns about travel insurance?  Let us know we’ll be glad to help.

Susan Wolfson
My goal is to Make Your Next Vacation Your Best Vacation!®