What Is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is a policy that covers financial and other losses as well as emergency medical expenses incurred while traveling internationally or domestically. It covers your travels to multiple destinations as part of one trip. A trip is considered to be from the date that you leave your home state/country until the date that you return to your home state/country. Travel insurance policies typically provide coverage for:
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
- Travel delays
- Lost baggage and personal property
- Emergency accident and medical benefits
Why Should I Have Travel Insurance?
Most vacation packages typically are non-refundable and can have rigid cancellation penalties. You could stand to lose a lot of money if you are not protected by a travel insurance policy. Trip cancellation and interruption provides reimbursement for your non-refundable trip costs if you are prevented from taking your covered trip or are unable to continue on your covered trip for any covered reason.
From a medical perspective depending on your primary health insurance policy, you may not be covered while traveling internationally. You should always check with your health insurance company before you travel. If you have medical coverage through a private or group health insurance company that does cover you, travel insurance acts as a secondary medical coverage for both international and domestic travelers by paying in excess or over the amount covered by your primary health insurance policy. This includes repatriation, getting you back to your home country or city of residence. This may be required if you are seriously ill or injured and need specialized transport or other medical services. It also includes, hopefully you will never need it, the transport of your mortal remains back home.
Who Is Covered Under a Travel Insurance Policy?
Policies are available to all persons up to the age of 100. Pregnant persons are also eligible for coverage. It does not cover pregnancy or childbirth however, it does provide medical coverage for complications due to pregnancy. You can even include non-family travel companion(s) on a policy. A travel companion is a person or persons with whom you have coordinated travel arrangements and intends to travel with you during the covered trip. A group or tour leader is not considered a traveling companion unless you are sharing room accommodations with the group or tour leader.
Resources for Traveling Abroad
Here are links to websites with information on how to stay safe and healthy while traveling abroad.
This state department site lists up-to-date travel warnings and alerts regarding entry, visa, and exit requirements; currency restrictions; and locations of U.S. embassies and consulates. It also summarizes local laws and safety issues that apply to U.S. travelers, such as threats from terrorism, crime, weather, earthquakes and government/community tolerance of faith-based groups and LGBTI travelers.
The state departments Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) allows you to log your itinerary with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. This will help the state department, and your family and friends, contact you if there's a natural disaster, civil unrest or family emergency.
The International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) is a nonprofit that coordinates doctors around the world so that international travelers can get medical assistance. It is free to become a memer and get access to a database of English-speaking doctors and assistance with scheduling appointments. It also provides news and reccomendations on health risks, immunizations, food and water safety conditions, climate and so much more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides information about disease risks around the world with recommendations for vaccinations and other preventative measures. It also provides a directory of health departments and travel clinics that can administer the shots you will need.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reports on disease risks around the world and provides other world news.