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Oct 18, 2016

What are my insurance options when I travel?

Recent articles in national publications have described the reduction in worldwide travel and associated costs due to the overall climate of world affairs. But anecdotally that doesn’t seem to be the case: Many people, including students and families, continue to travel, despite the daily headlines.

The average family of four spends approximately $4,000 to $10,000 on a vacation, while higher-end international trips can reach upwards of $20,000 and beyond.

So, the cancellation or interruption of a planned trip is not only a potential financial loss, but also an emotional let-down.

When planning to travel, consumers often think travel insurance is unnecessary. In fact, only 20 percent of the people who qualify for travel insurance actually purchase it.1 Those who’ve opted out think they’ve avoided unnecessary spending and hassle, when the reality is that expenses incurred after an incident happens while traveling without insurance could up their initial trip spend by a significant amount.

Every traveler needs to have insurance or know the options for protection during an emergency or unexpected, cost-bearing situation. Travel insurance provides coverage for financial losses of nonrefundable travel expenses, including emergency medical/dental expenses, medical evacuation, trip cancellation and travel delay, baggage and personal property coverage and even accidental-death coverage.

The cost of purchasing a travel insurance plan versus the cost of an unexpected travel mishap is, without question, worth every penny.

A few years ago, our agency had a client and family who were traveling to an island in the Caribbean when their boat caught fire. The passengers and their belongings went directly into the water. While no one was injured, the loss of their clothes and jewelry was significant.

That’s not all: While traveling in Europe, I personally have had two experiences when individuals I was with became ill and required hospitalization. In both cases, the local medical treatment available was inadequate. Had a medical flight to the United States been possible, that option would have been preferable. In one case, the outcome was close to disastrous for the individual affected and his family.

Where should travelers begin when it comes to understanding coverage, then? Travel agents may come to mind, but travel agents are not insurance agents. Always speak directly with an insurance agent or provider to ensure you receive proper advice on all aspects of insuring your trip.

Costs for coverage among various travel insurance companies can range widely, so having your agent complete a comparison is necessary to determine the best possible fit. AIG Travel’s Travel Guard and MAPFRE Assistance are two options that offer a variety of insurance coverage for different markets. Premiums vary based on the country the traveler is headed to and the level of coverage needed.

There are more than 20 Travel Guard products, ranging from all-inclusive plans to rental car and flight-insurance plans. The products are simple to understand and easy to differentiate. AIG also offers Platinum, Gold, Silver and Basic travel insurance packages, which are best suited for travelers taking a higher-end trip.

MAPFRE Assistance, meanwhile, offers affordable travel insurance for both international and domestic travel. This coverage offers a wide range of insurance solutions for travelers, including primary medical cover- age on international travel, as well as assistance services.

MAPFRE coverage options further offer high limits and affordable family packages, plus preparation: The planning of a travel event typically begins six to 12 months in advance.

If you are traveling, you should put as much planning into your travel insurance as you put into your trip. The cost of purchasing a travel insurance plan versus the cost of an unexpected travel mishap is, without question, worth every penny.

Heather Schirmer, marketing manager at H.D. Segur, Inc., coauthored this article
1 Saporito, Bill. “Travel Insurance: No Longer Just for the Overprepared.” TIME, November 2, 2015.

This article was originally published in the October/November 2016 issue of Worth.

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