If you’re hitting the roads, waterways and skies now that pandemic travel restrictions have eased, maybe you’re wondering whether travel insurance is worth the extra cost — especially since most everything costs more these days including airfares.
CBS News Travel Editor Peter Greenberg said before you get travel insurance, take time to understand the different types that are available.
“The most prevalent is something called trip cancellation and interruption insurance. And in concept, if your flight is canceled, or you get sick, and you can’t go, it allows you to get your money back from that investment,” Greenberg told WTOP.
But it can be difficult to know exactly what coverage you’re getting.
“As many people experienced during the pandemic, especially if you make your reservations online, you can’t complete the transaction unless you either opt in or opt out of the travel insurance, and you don’t know what you’re covered for — and worse, you don’t know what you’re not covered for,” he said.
Greenberg recommends getting travel insurance especially if you’re spending a lot of money — say, $3,000 or more.
However, he doesn’t recommend purchasing such insurance as the kind of add-on made available while buying an airline ticket online.
“Don’t do it online,” he said. “Go to a travel adviser or a travel agent who can walk you through the hieroglyphics of that policy language, so you know what you’re covered for and what you’re not, because there are so many different exclusions that are out there — either age, pre-existing medical conditions, and even some cases destination exclusions themselves. That’s the first kind of insurance.”
The second kind of insurance is one Greenberg recommends for travelers going outside the U.S. — medical evacuation and repatriation coverage.
“Most often than not, it’s an annual premium. And in concept, what it does is, if you get sick or injured overseas, they will pay to get you medically stabilized where you are [and] they will consult with your own personal physician. After all, who knows your medical history better than your own personal doctor? And then if the situation warrants, they will fly you back on a medically equipped jet to the doctor and medical facility of your choice. Again, it’s all in the policy language. And you need to talk to somebody to walk you through that. Again, you do not do that online.”
Greenberg reiterated the importance of talking to the insurance provider and your travel agent to find out what’s excluded from your coverage.
“Are you too old? Are you too young? Do you have a pre-existing medical condition that they will not cover? And is there a destination exclusion where you’re going to — a destination that they won’t cover to begin with? Why would you buy insurance there if you’re not going to get covered in the first place?” Greenberg said.
Most health insurance will cover you within the 48 continental United States, Greenberg said, “But then again, check with your travel provider. It’s when you get outside the United States that you absolutely need trip-interruption and cancellation insurance, and, especially, medical evacuation and repatriation insurance. Your health care coverage, more often than not, will not cover you once you leave the United States.”