Firstly, you may ask: Why purchase a trip insurance policy? What is the difference between trip protection and travel health insurance? Well, a trip insurance policy allows you to insure a value which you paid for the trip. You purchase the policy in advance and then, should something happen to prevent you from going on your trip, you would get your money back that you would have lost since you were not able to go on your trip. International travel health insurance primarily covers your unexpected medical expenses while you are traveling outside your home country. These plans can also provide some miscellaneous travel benefits, such as (1) baggage loss, (2) trip interruption, and so on, but primarily they will cover unexpected medical costs incurred. A trip plan, generally, will cover your medical expenses should you go on your trip, but they are designed more in mind of someone booking an expensive cruise or tour, for example, since the benefits are very appropriate for such a situation.
What benefits do I get from a trip insurance plan? Before I discuss individual policies, let me describe some benefits most plans have.
- TRIP CANCELLATION — This is the primary reason to consider getting this insurance. This benefit allows you to choose an amount for your trip cost that you will insure with your policy. There are certain conditions which, should they arise, will allow you to get a refund of the amount you insured (up to the non-refundable cost of your trip). Such reasons, generally are: (1) sickness, injury or death of a member of the party or immediate family members of the travelers, (2) felonious assault of a party member, (3) court ordered appearance or jury duty of a traveler, (4) military duty, (5) termination or layoff of employment, (6) common carrier delays due to inclement weather, mechanical breakdown or organized labor strikes that affect public transportation, (7) hijacking, (8) terrorist incident where you are planning to travel, (9) traffic accident, (10) bankruptcy or default of a tour operator, (11) quarantine of a party member, or (12) your residence made uninhabitable due to fire, flood or other natural disaster. These reasons should be well documented and presented to your insurer as soon as possible in order to receive your benefit. These do vary slightly by company, so check your policy details to be sure you follow their procedures and you have your bases covered. Most policies pay back 100% or sometimes more of the cost you insured for your trip. The idea being that when you reschedule your trip it will cost you more next year (doesn’t everything?).
- TRIP INTERRUPTION — This benefit is similar to the above benefit, but kicks in after you started your trip. If, for similar above reasons, you have to interrupt your trip early, you will get a refund of some percentage of your money (the percentage of the trip left to take). This benefit is also usually given at more than 100%.
- TRIP DELAY — This is a set amount (around $1000) which will reimburse you an amount per day for any additional transportation, meals, accommodations, and non-refundable portion of your trip that you spend or lose due to a delay in your trip generally for 6 hours or longer.
- MISSED CONNECTION — A set amount (in thousands of dollars) which will reimburse you for additional transportation costs to join your cruise or tour if you miss your connection due to a delay of 3 hours or more. This benefit will also reimburse you for additional meals and accommodations as well as non-refundable losses from your trip payments.
- EMERGENCY MEDICAL EXPENSE — This is a set amount (thousands of dollars) which the company will pay for unexpected medical expenses you incur while on your trip. Note that some companies will include coverage for pre-existing medical conditions if you make your purchase within a short time of your initial down payment on your trip. This can be very important for planning your purchase for older people and those with medical conditions that you don’t wish to worry about while on your trip.
- EMERGENCY MEDICAL EVACUATION — This is a set amount (generally hundreds of thousands of dollars up to a million) which will move you to the nearest appropriate medical facility if medically necessary. If you are planning a remote cruise, you might want to consider getting a fair amount of coverage here just in case of such an emergency. Furthermore, if an adult is hospitalized, the policy will transport dependent children home (with a chaperone if needed) and/or you can have a person you choose come stay at your bedside while you are in the hospital if it turns into a lengthy stay (if you travel alone).
- REPATRIATION — If you should die while traveling, this benefit returns your mortal remains to your residence in the US or your place of burial.
- LOST BAGGAGE/PERSONAL EFFECTS — This benefit (generally hundreds of dollars) will reimburse you for loss, theft, and damage to baggage and personal effects. This may also reimburse you for delayed baggage if delayed for more than 12 hours.
- AD&D — Most policies offer an Accidental Death & Dismemberment (AD&D) benefit. That is, an amount is paid out to the insured for loss of limbs or sight or a beneficiary for accidental death of an insured while on your trip.
- COMMON CARRIER AD&D — This is a death/dismemberment benefit while on a commercial airline.
- TRAVEL ASSISTANCE SERVICES — Also called concierge services, many companies offer information over the phone for such things as locating a doctor, translation services, helping with lost or stolen documents, etc. These insurance companies are well versed in many countries and have many resources to draw from in order to assist their customers abroad.
Now, let me get to my specific example. My family and I are going on an anniversary cruise to the Galapagos Islands. So, we are 7 travelers going together with 4 adults, and three kids. For us, it makes sense to get a single travel policy since if one of us gets sick, we will all cancel. I will put the different companies in alphabetical order with the cost for our trip of 12 days with an insurance cover of $4,500 per person. We wanted to get at least $50,000 medical expenses covered AND I wanted to be sure that pre-existing conditions were covered as well, so I will list these benefits as I go.
Seven Corners Trip Insurance PlansSeven Corners offers two levels of their Round Trip plan: Round Trip Economy ($1487) and Round Trip Elite ($2001). They do live up to their names on cost coming in rather favorably for our large group. The Economy offers only $10,000 for medical coverage and the Elite $250,000. The emergency medical evacuation coverage is $100,000 and $1 million respectively. The Economy plan will not cover pre-existing conditions, but the Elite plan will cover if purchased within the first 20 days if initial trip deposit. Depending on your destination, the Economy plan may offer great value for your investment without breaking your overall trip budget. The maximum seemed too low for my family trip, but other parts of the world, I would definitely consider it as a great option. We had to give the Elite plan some consideration for our vacation.
HTH Worldwide Trip Insurance PlansFirst up, plans offered by HTH Worldwide called HTH Trip Protector ($2788) and HTH Trip Preferred ($3335) plans. They differ in medical maximums, although both are generous with Protector having $250,000 and Preferred is $500,000. They both offer emergency medical evacuation coverage in the amount of $1 million. Pre-existing conditions are covered for the Protector plan if the purchase is made within 14 days of the initial deposit and the Preferred plan needs to be purchased within 21 days. The benefits are generous in all areas and we were prepared to make the purchase in the two weeks allowed, but it was a bit over our budget. It’s only about $400 and $480 per person, but still quite a bit for our large group.
International Medical Group Trip Insurance PlansInternational Medical Group (IMG) travel plans which are available in three tiers : Travel Lite ($2002), Travel SE ($1920), and Travel LX ($2976). The Lite plan does not offer coverage for medical expenses on the trip, so that one was out. If you are wondering why the middle plan was cheapest, it is because kids are "free" with the paying adults (so 3 free kids). The SE plan offered $20,000 maximum for medical expenses and $100,000 for emergency medical evacuation. The LX plan offers $100,000 for medical expense and $1 million for medical evacuation. Both the SE and LX will cover pre-existing conditions as long as you purchase the plan at least 20 days from the initial trip deposit date. The LX plan has a cancel for any reason rider which pays at 75% of the trip cost. We gave the SE plan some serious consideration here, it is priced lower than the Lite plan because of the kids "free" benefit. I was a little worried that the medical and evacuation benefits were too low given the remoteness of our cruising destination. The jump in price to the LX plan is for the cancel for any reason as well as some nice included riders which cover equipment rental and car rental insurance.
Travel Insure Trip Insurance PlansUSI Travel Insure is the last option we offer. They have three tiered plans called Travel Insurance Select Basic ($2385), Travel Insurance Select Plus ($3420) and Travel Insurance Select Elite ($3873). Travel medical expenses are covered at $50,000 for Basic, $100,000 for Plus, and $150,000 for Elite. Emergency medical evacuation is covered at $100,000 for Basic, $500,000 for Plus, and $1 million for Elite plan. With the Plus and Elite plans, pre-existing medical conditions can be covered if purchased 21 days from the initial trip deposit date. The Elite plan offers a "Cancel for Any Reason" option which pay at 75% of trip cost. Given that pre-existing conditions were only covered in the Plus and Elite plans, these were the only two I considered and they are quite high for our budget.
So, first let me say that we were not interested in the Cancel for Any Reason benefit, so I did not bother pricing these out, I only noted where the option was available. We have traveled extensively in Latin America and are reasonably comfortable with the situation and understanding what is going on over there, so we are not very nervous about this trip. I felt that given the remoteness of where we are going to be cruising, the medical maximum should be at least $50,000 and the emergency medical evacuation should be at least $500,000; obviously more would be better, but this is what I decided we needed given our situation. After all this analysis, we selected a plan best suited for our needs. It was not cheapest, but it offered all the coverage we wanted and with the kids "free" the price was quite good. It works out to about $245 per person. Given the age of my parents 78 and 81, the reduced charge for the kids helped make this quite affordable.
Here at American Visitor Insurance, we are striving to make our trip comparison tool more friendly and as accurate as possible so that you will be able to compare your options for your next exciting trip. If you have questions or concerns about a product, do not hesitate to call or email us; we are happy to assist you. Purchase can be made online very easily with a credit card and you can request documents be emailed or placed in regular (or express, for a fee) mail to you. I asked for my documents by regular mail and got them within the week. We still have some time to plan and prepare (still need prescription masks with snorkels!), but I’m glad this step is out of the way. Do let us know how we can serve you better!
As ever, we wish you safe and happy travels.