Travel Insurance: Myths, Truths and Pro Tips


Have you ever started a project with what you thought was a plan, then realized you were veering off (or needed to veer off) in a whole new direction? That's what's going on here. So I'm abandoning the plan to dive into the wonders of Panama for now, in favor of something a little more in-the-moment, since so many readers are warming their engines for departure to newly-reopened lands afar.

Travel insurance. Yes, again. Admittedly, there was a time when I too traveled without protecting my journey: protecting the financial investment I had made in my well-earned, well-planned vacation far from home. I am fortunate to not have learned any hard lessons the hard way. The lessons are at minimum inconvenient, many times very expensive. No one expects to need medical evacuation, but the minimal fee to insure against it is worth it to not have to spend the $30,000 or so if you end up needing it. Below are some myths and the truths behind them.

Disclaimer: I am not an insurance specialist and cannot select the right insurance for you. I am able to 1) offer you the options appropriate for your vacation, and 2) connect you with the insurance professionals to explain the details of coverages and help you make that decision.

Myth: It covers everything.

A lot of people think travel insurance will cover any event, but it depends on the policy you choose to purchase. There are policies that cover trip cancellations, illnesses, medical emergencies and evacuations, lost baggage, or all of the above. If you've heard of "cancel for any reason" policies, understand that the "any" is quite well defined; coverage varies by provider and policy, but generally, for example, the fear of getting sick (from coronavirus, for example) is not a valid reason for canceling a trip.

Pro tip: trip protection is intended to reimburse for expenses that are not covered/refunded/reimbursed by other means; i.e., it covers only what would otherwise be a loss or out-of-pocket expense. Some coverages have a maximum reimbursement value. Be familiar with your policy.

Myth: You're already covered by your health insurance.

If clients are traveling internationally and choose not to purchase insurance, I require them to sign a waiver. I want them to have medical coverage in the event they’re sick or injured while traveling, because most U.S.-based insurance policies do not cover you abroad. In case of emergency, keep receipts for the cost of meals, taxis, hotels, clothing, and toiletries that were incurred as a result. If a client chooses to decline trip protection against my recommendation, I require them to be responsible (in writing) for that decision.

Pro Tip: If your advisor doesn't offer you trip protection insurance, ask for it, and don't leave home without it!


Myth: You’ll never get your claims paid.

Some people assume trip-insurance companies take forever to pay claims when something goes awry. Actually, filling out your claim promptly and correctly, the payout typically happens in ten days or so. When filing a claim, it’s important to be specific in answering questions. Vague answers often result in having claims kicked back or denied. If there are gray areas on the forms, the insurer is happy to work with you directly to clarify. If a claim is denied or held up, I can reach out to my insurance sales rep for assistance, as I have strong partnerships with these companies.

Pro tip: Most people are aware of the post-departure benefits of travel insurance. However, opt for a policy with pre-departure benefits that protect you in the event of cancellation due to a covered reason.


Myth: It’s only for older travelers.

Not so. Young travelers should also protect their investment. What if you have to cancel your vacation for work or severe weather? Illness, accident or other misfortune befall the young too, sadly.

Pro tip: The right plan should include coverage for preexisting conditions, supplier default, and transportation to the best possible hospital, along with cancellation for work reasons.

As you prepare for your incredible travel experience, unbelievable perks and unforgettable memories, ensure peace of mind with an insurance policy that meets your specific requirements. Your favorite Virtuoso advisor is your best resource.


'til next week.

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