Last Updated on January 19, 2021 by Max
With so many insurances out there, it can almost feel like rocket science to understand them all.
That is why we created this ultimate guide on how to find the best travel insurance for your needs in 2021.
It will cover all the essential questions regarding travel insurance, and prepare you as a traveler on what to look out for when taking out traveling insurance.
Table of Contents
Types of travel insurance
Let’s start with the foundation — the types of travel insurance.
You have probably asked yourself whether travel insurance is worthwhile or not – and whether you should take out travel insurance at all.
Here are the nine potential risks that travel insurance can cover.
1. Trip cancellation and interruption
This type of insurance is the most popular.
According to Forbes, almost 9 out of 10 Americans who take out travel insurance do so because they want a refund for a canceled trip.
Booking a trip can be very expensive. So if you are not able to go on your planned vacation, you do not want to lose a lot of money with it.
In other words, if you get sick or a close relative gets very ill and has to stay at home, you can get your money back.
You can also book a “cancel without reason” plan. This plan allows you to cancel without giving a reason and still receive a refund.
If you take out travel insurance immediately after booking your trip, or even before, you can get a trip interruption cover.
This way, if you need to return home earlier than planned (must be a covered reason), you can get a reimbursement for the days you lost.
2. Medical expenses
Your health insurance does not cover you everywhere in the world.
So, if you travel to another country, you should take out medical insurance.
It will cover your medical expenses in the event of an incident. Maybe you have to see a doctor or go to the hospital.
You wait at the baggage carousel, but your suitcase does not show up.
It turns out it was lost.
It’s not even that unlikely to happen.
In fact, in 2017, 22 million pieces of luggage were lost, delayed, or damaged, according to a survey by the AAA.
Cover for lost, delayed, or damaged luggage is a good idea if you plan to take checked baggage with you.
4. Rental car
If you want to rent a car or similar at your holiday destination, you should include it in your policy. As a rule, it covers all damages even if the car gets stolen.
Most plans also cover scooters and the like.
5. Extreme Sports
This additional insurance is crucial for you if you wish to practice extreme sports such as parachuting, bungee jumping, snowboarding, skiing, surfing, etc.
Getting your valuables stolen, such as your phone, laptop or similar, is unfortunately more common than people believe. Think about crowded beaches in the summer. So, if you want to avoid any loss, you need theft coverage.
If you are going on a cruise, you need cruise insurance. Normally, standard travel insurance is not sufficient.
With flight insurance, you can receive reimbursement for canceled or delayed flights.
However, be aware that flight insurance usually does not cover aviation accidents. If you want this as well, you must take out aviation accident insurance.
9. 24-hour assistance
It is reassuring for some people to know that they can always contact their travel insurance company, no matter what time of day. This is possible with a 24-hour assistance.
Annual vs. single trip coverage
You probably wonder whether annual travel insurance could pay off compared to single trip travel insurance policies.
Let’s take a look at some scenarios.
One trip per year
If you only take one trip abroad per year, it goes without saying that you only need to take out single trip insurance.
Several trips per year
However, if you travel a few times a year and you want to be insured, annual insurance can in theory pay off.
Nevertheless, you must be careful.
Annual travel insurance can be expensive if you need several types of plans. In other words: If you go on a ski trip in winter, you will need extreme sports insurance. If you then go on a cruise in the same year, you need cruise insurance for that trip.
Taking many different types of trips means many kinds of plans. And that will be expensive.
Therefore, an annual insurance policy does not always save you money in the end. It might end up being more expensive than buying single trip insurance.
An annual insurance policy is perfect for you who do not need many different types of insurances.
So if you travel a lot every year and your travels do not require insurance cover for cruises and extreme sports, you should consider taking out an annual insurance policy.
Because with an annual insurance policy, you can travel as often as you like, and to as many regions as you want.
The 90-day rule
However, you should be aware that an annual travel plan does not provide 365-day coverage.
Most policies only cover up to 90 days at a time, which means that one trip can last a maximum of 90 days.
Conclusion: If you travel regularly and visit other countries, you should check whether it is worth taking out annual insurance.
What travel insurance does not cover
It is no surprise that travel insurance does not cover everything. There are always some unexpected events that a travel insurance company does not want or need to cover.
That often concerns events where you could have prevented the accident. In other words, an accident that happens because you did not think through your actions.
Events travel insurance companies may not want or need to cover
- leave your belongings unattended.
- have an already known illness that you do not inform your insurance company about and suddenly need medical treatment.
- contract a venereal disease and therefore need to see a doctor.
- engage in carefree activities or behave recklessly. For example, if you participate in high-risk sports and activities. Otherwise, take out insurance for extreme sports.
- travel to a destination even though the government has advised against it (war zones, pandemics, etc.). Particularly relevant at the moment.
- Ignore the road and driving rules of the area.
- if you have no real reason to cancel your trip. However, some travel insurances with their “Cancellation for any reason” plan offer this.
It is, therefore, imperative that you also find out what the insurance does not cover.
Five important things to consider
Now you are well informed about what to look out for and what the policy should contain.
However, before you continue searching for travel insurance best suited to your needs, let’s look at five essential things you should keep in mind when looking for travel insurance.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them.
1. Obtain information about the company.
Where is it located? When was it founded?
And most important of all: How are they rated online? You do not want to fall into the hands of those with whom others have had terrible experiences.
Therefore, make sure to choose travel insurance that has a high rating online.
Also, read the comments as well. Has anyone had a good experience with filing a claim? And how long did it all take?
2. Take a closer look at the exclusions.
A travel insurance policy full of exclusions is a waste of money and leads to real frustration.
In addition, the insurance policy may cover something that you simply do not need. So, find out what your travel insurance covers and whatnot.
3. Make sure that you inform the travel insurance company of any preexisting medical conditions.
Can travel insurance companies request medical documents?
Yes, they can.
It is, therefore, decisive that you inform about all preexisting medical conditions. These can be diseases such as high blood pressure or other chronic illnesses.
The insurance may not cover your medical bills if you do not inform them in advance.
They want to be able to assess the risk factor of insuring you. If you suffer from a disease, it is more likely that you will need medical help abroad, which means the company may have to pay reimbursement.
Therefore, they need to know any preexisting medical conditions.
All this can then, of course, have an impact on the price. So can your age.
So to make sure that your insurance company takes any potential claim from you seriously, you should be honest with them.
4. Make sure who and how many are covered by your travel insurance.
Be aware of which policy you choose; does it also apply to a partner or the family? Anyhow, this does not matter if you are traveling alone.
5. How much are the reimbursements?
Maybe you stumble upon cheap and promising-looking insurance. However, remember to take a closer look at the amount of cover.
A low maximum amount payable per person, e.g., for medical treatment, is not such a big safety net if you have to pay extra.
Ways to take out travel insurance
Knowing the right things to consider will take you many steps further and closer to finding and selecting an insurance plan that meets your needs and wishes.
Also, what applies to all insurance in general, whether it is dental-, accident- or travel insurance, is that not all insurance companies are interested in helping you, even if you are entitled to it.
We know it sounds harsh, but that is why it is so important that you find an insurance company that is reliable and meets with your needs. And, of course, at a fair price.
Now that you know what to look for and have thought about what you want to include in your policy, let’s see where you can find one.
Via a travel agency or on a booking page
Perhaps you have already noticed. When booking a trip, whether it is a package deal or just a flight or hotel, you will always be asked whether you would like to take out travel insurance.
Pros: Choosing travel insurance this way is the “easy way,” as you do not have to look for insurance directly.
Con: But this also means that you cannot choose what you want to have insured and whatnot. That is because this type of insurance fits the general needs of travelers.
Also, since you cannot choose the company, you may not know if it is reliable.
Via your credit card
Most credit cards have travel insurance.
Coverage ranges from medical coverage, travel cancellation, car damage, theft protection, and much more.
Does your credit card include travel insurance? And if so, what does it cover?
Pros: This is another “easy” option as it comes with the credit card.
You may also be able to add additional coverage, such as extreme sports insurance and car rental damage coverage.
Cons: You do not get to choose a plan.
Be aware that some credit cards only provide insurance cover if you use them to book your trip.
Directly with the insurance company
A glance at the website of an insurance company will give you a good overview of what it offers.
Pros: You get a good overview of their offer.
You can customize your policy.
You can call them if you have any questions or are confused about anything before you buy.
Cons: You can only evaluate the policy of the company whose website you visit.
You may not be able to see customer reviews on the website.
On a comparison page
The great thing about comparison pages is that they offer a significant amount of information.
They compare prices and quotes and show the customers’ ratings and give a brief overview of the company.
All in all, they make the insurance hunt a very transparent and helpful experience.
Pros: You get a good overview of what is available on the market and can compare and find the policy that suits your needs. You can also read about other travelers’ experiences with the company.
Cons: It can be very overwhelming to browse through all the quotes and policies, despite a good overview.
It is also time-consuming because you have to compare many policies at once.
Can travel insurance be canceled?
Consider the following scenario.
You have taken out travel insurance, but after inquiring, you do not want travel insurance from this particular company. Or perhaps you will not go on your planned (but not yet booked) trip. Ergo, you do not need it anymore.
That can happen. But what do you do? Can you get your money back, i.e., a refund on your premiums?
The answer to this question is both yes and no.
Yes, you can get your money back if you cancel within the money-back guarantee period. The period is right after you have taken out your travel insurance, which is usually 10-14 days.
That means after these 10-14 days, the answer is no; you can usually not get your money back.
Can you take out travel insurance after booking a trip or after departure?
We all know that taking out travel insurance is best done before or immediately after booking the trip.
But that is the dream scenario and not always reality.
Let’s look at four typical scenarios.
First scenario: after the booking
You have already booked your trip but have not taken out travel insurance before booking.
In this case, you should not worry.
Taking out travel insurance after you have booked your trip is no problem at all. For many people, it even makes sense to take it out afterwards.
However, be aware that you may have problems getting trip cancellation or trip interruption cover if you take out travel insurance shortly before the departure.
You should, therefore, always try to do this either before booking a trip or immediately afterward.
The longer you wait, the fewer plans will be available, and it will only get more expensive.
This way, you will get a plan that best suits your needs and at the best price.
Second scenario: the day before departure
You forgot about it until the day before your trip.
In this case, you can still take out travel insurance. However, you may not be able to get travel interruption insurance.
Of course, you cannot cancel your trip either.
You will most likely be able to take out health insurance, which is the most important thing. You may also be able to take out theft, luggage, and car rental insurance.
Third scenario: at the airport
You have made it to the airport when you suddenly realize that you have no travel insurance. What do you do? Can you book travel insurance at such short notice?
Yes and no.
If you have made it to the airport but are not in the air yet, you have two options.
- You can take out travel insurance through your device.
If you have a stable connection on your phone, tablet, or laptop, you can request a quote online to purchase travel insurance.
However, we do not recommend that you take out travel insurance in a hurry. If you are unlucky, you may take out the wrong type of insurance. You can also fall into the hands of a bad insurance company.
- You can buy one at a travel agency or from a travel insurance company at the airport.
Most airports have travel insurance companies or travel agencies located within the airport.
Fourth scenario: already landed
However, it may also be that it first crossed your mind up in the air or after landing. Having reached your destination, you can check online what companies offer travel insurance after departure.
In this case, you will first have to find a company that is willing to insure you. Second, you will probably only be able to take out medical insurance. Baggage insurance will not be possible, as you and your luggage have already landed.
How to file a claim
Making a claim is the most important part.
In this way, you will inform your travel insurance company that you wish for a reimbursement.
Submitting a claim should not be difficult, but you should still expect some paperwork to be involved. Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply describe in your request what happened.
Most likely, you will need to send them evidence documenting the unexpected event(s).
These may be documents such as a medical statement from the doctor, who treated you, and the invoice you have received. It can be pictures of a damaged rental car and the bill you received with it.
Remember that you often have to apply within a time frame, so make sure you know how many days you have available.
Even if the hospital itself is charging the insurance company, it is still good to file a claim as this will speed up the process in many cases.
Good luck & take care!