5 Tips for Knowing When to Buy Travel Insurance
You’ve picked your dream beach destination, found a vacation rental, and you’re booking your stay, but inevitably you’ve got one more decision to make: Should you or shouldn’t you buy travel insurance. What would happen to your beach vacation investment in the event of a tropical storm or an unforeseen illness? What if you have a death in the family or you lose your job or get relocated? What if the airline loses your luggage or your flight is canceled and you need to spend extra money on a hotel? What if you just change your mind? Part of planning your vacation is knowing your cancellation options in advance and deciding whether the cost of vacation travel insurance outweighs the risk of losing your money.
If you don’t buy travel insurance and you have to cancel your vacation plans, whether the reason is illness, death of a family member, work responsibilities, or some other unanticipated event, the cost of your vacation rental and other related travel expenses may not be refundable. Cancellation charges are generally based on the length of time before departure. If you cancel a month or more in advance of your departure date, cancellation fees typically range from 30 to 50 percent of the total price of your trip. All of these details are outlined in the rental agreement specified by owners and managers of vacation rentals. If you must cancel on your departure date, or must cancel part of the trip after starting it, you may be charged the full cost of the vacation rental. Buying comprehensive travel insurance means that the cost of your trip will be refunded.
If you’re planning on staying in a professionally managed vacation rental, like you’ll find on BeachGuide.com, then you’ll likely be offered a choice to buy travel insurance when you’re booking by phone or online. The price of travel insurance is usually about 7 percent of the cost of your vacation rental. Coverage typically includes other charges such as cleaning fees, reservation fees, and state and local taxes as well. Before you buy, ask if your specific concerns are covered. For medical policies, be sure to ask about coverage for pre-existing conditions. You may also want to research other policies online.
Plan smart for your next beach vacation and consider buying travel insurance so that if the unexpected happens you’ll be able to recover your expenses and enjoy that trip another time.
Travel Insurance Buying Tips
1. Make sure you need travel insurance. Your homeowner’s policy or regular health insurance plan may already have you covered. Or you may have some coverage through a credit card. Also, some hotels, airlines, and others let you cancel without penalty even a few hours before your scheduled arrival.
2. Buy when you book your trip. Some plans can be bought after departure, but comprehensive plans that include medical coverage usually cannot. Once you recognize the need for medical attention, it may be too late.
3. Consider buying one of the “cancel for any reason” plans. These cover everything from changing your mind about wanting to take the trip to getting a better travel deal elsewhere. However, these plans are expensive and can cost up to 50 percent more than traditional travel insurance.
4. Know the difference between insurance and a waiver. With a waiver, you don’t get your money back – you just get to rebook at a later date with no penalty.
5. Consider buying evacuation coverage for an unexpected flight home due to injury or illness. If you need an air ambulance medical evacuation, you can be out thousands of dollars, even for a domestic flight.
If you do buy travel insurance, be sure to keep receipts to document hotel and restaurant expenses due to a travel delay, and have a doctor’s notes and/or bills for any medical care. Finally, relax and look forward to your trip, knowing that you won’t lose your vacation dollars due to unforeseen circumstances!