When planning your next big vacation, in addition to booking your flights and reserving your rooms, it might be smart to purchase some travel insurance.
"Travel insurance is just like any other kind of insurance: You buy it hoping you don't need it, but when you do need it, you're glad you have it!" says Linda Fallon, senior vice president of travel insurance provider RoamRight. "Even a delayed flight or lost suitcase can quickly add unexpected expenses to a trip."
The relatively small investment of protecting you and your trip can save you tens of thousands if the worst happens and you need to be medically evacuated home, she adds.
We recently checked in with Linda to learn the ins and outs of travelers insurance and how it can help you save money. Read on:
Tell us about RoamRight...what services do you offer?
Simply put, RoamRight helps travelers. Planning and taking a trip are exciting, but many unexpected things can happen to derail your experience. What would you do if your child became ill two days before you were scheduled to leave on vacation? Or if you were visiting a foreign country and were injured in a car accident?
RoamRight exists so you won't have to worry about the financial or logistical headaches associated with situations like these. We provide travel insurance to protect travelers like you - from the time you are planning your trip and purchase insurance until the time you arrive home safely.
Why should travelers consider purchasing travel insurance?
Almost everyone has had something unexpected happen to them while traveling: a family member gets sick, a flight is delayed or a suitcase is lost, a grandparent passes away unexpectedly. All of these can have costly consequences to an unprepared traveler: rearranging travel plans, paying for flight change fees, replacing lost items. Travel insurance provides an easy and inexpensive way to protect yourself and your family from these unexpected - and costly - expenses.
Additionally, did you know that your primary health insurance may not always travel with you, particularly if you are going abroad? Many U.S. health plans - including Medicare - do not cover medical care that occurs outside of the country, even in an emergency. And if your health insurance does cover you abroad, you may be required to pay out of pocket for treatment and request reimbursement when you return home. This can add up quickly if you have a medical emergency, and many foreign hospitals require payment in full before you are discharged.
So you see, it's not just older or frail travelers who need to consider purchasing travel medical insurance. One RoamRight traveler was recently billed almost $10,000 after she broke her ankle while hiking in Europe; imagine what a more complex medical emergency could cost!
What are the different types of travel insurance available?
Travel insurance can be divided into two different types: trip protection and travel medical. Trip protection insurance covers events like canceling a trip or cutting it short because something unexpected has happened. Travel medical insurance fills gaps that occur when your primary health insurance doesn't cover you abroad or won't pay directly to a foreign provider.
Because there are so many different kinds of travelers, RoamRight provides a variety of travel insurance plans to fit each traveler's needs. Our three basic plans meet the needs of most individuals - from the budget traveler to the luxury traveler. In addition, we have plans that cater to adventure travelers who participate in more daring activities like skiing and parachuting, as well as plans that have higher baggage limits for people who travel with expensive sports equipment like golf clubs.
RoamRight also has insurance plans for those travelers who only want travel medical coverage. These may be the last-minute travelers who have no need for trip cancellation coverage, or they may be travelers who wouldn't lose a lot of money or don't have large additional expenses if their trip is cancelled or interrupted.
What is the minimum coverage a person should get before going on a trip?
It's hard to say what a recommended minimum coverage should be, because what's right for one trip isn't necessarily the best coverage for another. Think about it this way: If you buy a different car, you probably need to change your car insurance coverage. If you move into a different house, you'll need different homeowners insurance. The same holds true for travel insurance.
I suggest that travelers have enough coverage for any non-refundable trip costs they have. Trip deposits are often non-refundable. If you've prepaid for any part of your trip, you'll want to insure it. You never know what may stop you from taking that cruise, staying at that hotel, or catching that flight.
In regards to medical coverage, domestic travelers tend to have suitable medical coverage with their primary health insurance; however, international travelers often do not. Medical costs can be very different depending on location, and evacuating a person to better care in an emergency can be expensive. Depending on a traveler's destination, it's important to have enough insurance to cover unexpected hospitalization expenses or a more costly evacuation to a higher standard of care or back home.
What are some coverage options for a person on a tight travel budget?
RoamRight has a policy designed specifically for budget travelers. The RoamRight Essential policy is an affordable option that provides adequate protection for most travel situations: canceled trips, trip delay, lost baggage, etc. However, if you're a budget traveler who goes to remote locations that are far from quality medical care, I would suggest upgrading to a RoamRight Preferred or RoamRight Elite policy for higher medical limits.
What questions should we ask/considerations should we make before purchasing coverage?
Before buying insurance, it's important to evaluate your travel plans and your comfort level in dealing with the risks involved. How expensive is your trip? Are those expenses refundable, and what is the worst penalty you would incur if you cancel? Are you prepared to possibly lose any expenses you've prepaid in the event that you can't go on your trip? Will you be traveling with expensive luggage?
International travelers should have additional considerations: Will your primary health insurance cover you, or are you prepared to pay out-of-pocket for potentially expensive medical bills in an emergency? Is your destination a "safe" country with decent medical care? How far away will you be from a quality medical facility? If you have to be evacuated, who would you call; how would you pay for that expense?
The answers to all of these questions can change the type of travel insurance and the coverage limits you should consider. At RoamRight, we have an excellent customer service team who can help you determine the best coverage for your particular trip. Visit RoamRight.com to call or chat with a representative.
What sorts of coverage do you make sure you personally always have when you're traveling?
I base my travel insurance purchase decisions on where I am traveling (U.S. or international), how much my trip costs, and whether or not I can afford to lose that investment.
What are some easy ways you can recommend that travelers pinch pennies when planning a trip?
There are many ways to save money while traveling - from visiting affordable destinations to using public transportation. Personally, I try to avoid checked bag fees by only using a carry-on for shorter duration trips. The RoamRight blog is full of ideas on how to pinch pennies when traveling. We even have ideas on how to make a trip to Fiji more affordable!
What are some of your favorite destinations in the U.S.? Abroad? What do you love about them?
My favorite destination in the world has to be Nova Scotia. It's simply beautiful, and you feel like you're in Europe - without the price tag. The seafood there is delicious, and it's easy to get to from the East Coast.