Travel is fun. It's also unpredictable. You think you're ordering an appetizer in French, but you mess it up and your waiter thinks you're asking him out. It happens. But when mishaps go beyond late flights or culture shock, you need more than a sense of humor. You need insurance.
Most travelers think of travel insurance in terms of trip insurance--that is, insurance protection in the event that their tour operator goes bankrupt or a personal emergency forces them to cancel their vacations. But what if you're attacked by a wallaby in Australia? Or you rear-end a local on the Autobahn? What if that waiter's girlfriend punches you out? Are you covered?
Health Insurance Coverage: Don't Travel Naked
Don't assume that your health insurance covers overseas emergencies! Are you covered in the case of accidental injury, hospitalization, illness, air evacuation for care, or extended stays in foreign hospitals? If your illness or injury interferes with your travel, are you still entitled to lodging, ground transportation, and a delayed trip home?
Many domestic health policies carry strict contingencies for out-of-pocket costs and out-of-network determinations. It may be prudent (and in the event of a medical crisis far cheaper) to purchase an emergency medical assistance policy to supplement your existing health coverage.
Accidents Happen, but so Does Coverage
If you plan to drive, line up your car or motorcycle insurance first. Your own insurance company may be able to take care of it, or you may buy coverage from a travel insurance provider. Your credit card company may also include rental car insurance and other travel coverage as part of your cardholder agreement.
If the worst happens, accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage can provide payment to beneficiaries in the event of loss of life or limb as part of travel. You may not need this coverage if you already have good life insurance--check your policy.
Evaluating Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can encompass coverage for theft or damage to property, emergency medical assistance, accidental death, and driving overseas. These short-term policies can fill gaps left by your existing coverage.
Here are some key questions to ask your insurance specialist before taking a trip:
? Do I have worldwide coverage?
? Am I covered completely for liability, collision, and comprehensive damage if operating a car or motorcycle?
? What are my deductibles?
? Are there co-payments for theft, loss, or medical costs?
? Is there reimbursement or immediate coverage for expenses during trip delays or health emergencies?
? Are there exclusions (due to conditions that exist before time of travel)?
? Do I have (or need) coverage for hazardous travel (mountain climbing, bungee-jumping, zip-lines, scuba, skiing, etc.)?
? Does the insurance policy cover the bankruptcy or default of the tour operator, hotel, carrier, or travel packager?
? Am I covered if travel is stopped by an employee strike?
? It's an uncomfortable topic, but am I covered for the repatriation of remains?
Know what your existing policies don't cover, then purchase what you need. While no one can guarantee that your vacation will be fabulous and glitch-free, insurance can keep minor mishaps from becoming major catastrophes. And you can help by practicing your French vocabulary.
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