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This past year has been an unexpected and wild ride—mostly experienced at home. As we close out 2020, you may be looking forward to packing a suitcase and getting the heck out of there.
Travel insurance is a good way to get reimbursed for your trip costs if something unexpected affects your travel plans. If your trip is abroad and/or expensive, buying travel insurance is a no-brainer.
Here are top tips to help navigate to the right travel insurance plan.
Consider Your Destination
The first travel insurance tip is a simple one: Consider your destination.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to travel insurance. Your destination and itinerary will play a significant role in determining how much coverage you’re going to need.
The key to saving money is to purchase what’s necessary for the trip and not add options that you won’t use.
For example, if you’re traveling with children, you may want to bulk up on medical benefits in a travel insurance plan.
Or let’s say you’re booking a multi-country expedition with an exhaustive itinerary that includes multiple sightseeing tours and travel connections. It’s a two-week bucket list vacation that you’ve been waiting for.
And even if you’ve been painstakingly devising your trip plans down to the very last detail, the reality is that there is so much that could go wrong and beyond your control. For example, a missed connection in London could derail your sightseeing tour in Rome. And what happens if you slip and break an ankle on a cobblestone street in Paris?
For a big trip like this, consider a comprehensive travel insurance plan that covers all your bases. This could include insurance that covers baggage, missed connections, cancellation, prepaid trip expenses (like sightseeing tours or museum passes) if the trip is interrupted, and travel medical insurance if you get hurt or unexpectedly ill.
You Might Already Have Coverage Through a Credit Card
Before you put down money on a travel insurance plan, look into what coverage you might already have in your wallet. You might be pleasantly surprised if your credit card covers travel insurance types such as lost luggage reimbursement and trip delay reimbursement.
For example, a Chase Sapphire Reserve card comes with travel insurance perks like trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance, up to $10,000 per person and $20,000 per trip for prepaid nonrefundable expenses. This coverage kicks in if your trip is cut short due to problems covered by the policy, like severe weather or getting a court subpoena that can’t be postponed or waived.
Contact your credit card company and ask for details about your coverage for travel. If your card offers certain types of insurance, like roadside assistance, then you don’t need to include that in a travel insurance purchase.
Here are Forbes Advisor’s best credit cards for travel insurance benefits.
Don’t Assume All Your Activities Will Be Covered
Don’t assume a travel insurance plan will automatically cover you in all types of activities. That’s because many travel insurance policies have exclusions for high-risk activities. This is where you’ll really need to read the fine print or talk with your travel insurance agent.
For example, if you’re planning to go on a grand adventure that includes motorcycle racing, rock climbing or bungee jumping, your travel medical insurance most likely won’t cover you if you get injured.
If your trip itinerary includes activities that skew from the traditional sightseeing or museum tours, look into a policy that covers adventure travel, such as World Nomads travel insurance.
Don’t Assume Your Travel Insurance Plan Covers a Pandemic
Many travel insurance policies exclude coverage for pandemics. That’s because pandemics are typically considered a “foreseeable event.” This means if your trip is affected by an outbreak, you won’t be reimbursed for your expenses.
Yet it’s still possible to find good plans that won’t exclude COVID-19 as a foreseeable event. For example, AXA Assistance USA offers medical coverage for COVID up to $250,000 and trip cancellation coverage due to COVID.
See our ratings of the best pandemic travel insurance.
Hedge Your Bets With “Cancel For Any Reason” Coverage
If you’re concerned about COVID-19 or any problem that might affect your trip—even a fear of traveling when trip time comes—consider cancel for any reason travel insurance. This type of coverage reimburses the nonrefundable, prepaid portion of your trip if you want to cancel it, for whatever the reason may be.
Here are some things to know about cancel for any reason coverage:
- You typically need to purchase cancel for any reason coverage within 14 to 21 days of your first trip payment, depending on the insurer
- Cancel for any reason coverage usually costs between 10% to 12% of the value of your trip
- You’ll get a partial refund of your nonrefundable trip costs, between 50% to 75%, depending on your plan.
- You may not be able to get reimbursement if you cancel at the last minute. Some plans require you to cancel 48 hours before departure.
Take Advantage of the “Free Look” Period
If you bought a policy and soon realize that you’ve made a bad choice, you’re not necessarily locked in. That’s because travel insurance policies usually have what’s called a “free look” period that makes you eligible for a full refund if you change your mind.
But don’t dilly-dally. A free look period is typically limited to 10 to 15 days after purchasing the travel insurance.