Trip insurance: get the right coverage (Not exciting, but important)
We know this isn’t a sexy topic (although we’ll at least try to get some questionable taste comments in here) but if you are spending a fair bit on a trip, and you don’t have the budget left to fund unforeseen events, you’d be very smart to buy trip insurance for issues that could potentially cause you to incur major additional costs.
Ever since we started buying trip insurance we’ve gotten it from InsureMyTrip.com. Brunette found them early on and liked that they sell over 300 plans from over 25 companies and you can easily compare the policies online. Better yet you can call and speak to a friendly and knowledgeable human. We always end up calling.
This week InsureMyTrip.com offered to comp us on the insurance for our upcoming trip if we would write about the process and we thought that was a great idea! So today we spent time on the phone with Gail, travel insurance rockstar, picking the best policy for our particular circumstances.
What everyone needs to know and consider:
- The factors that will affect the cost of your coverage are the cost of the trip (your personal out-of-pocket costs), the length of the trip and the ages of the travelers.
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition try to get a policy with a short “look back” period to be considered when they look for your last treatment for the condition.
- Ideally you should buy your travel insurance within 10 days of making your first payment on an upcoming trip. This will be to your advantage in terms of pre-existing medical conditions and “cancel for any reason” costs.
- Do not buy your travel insurance from the carrier or tour provider you will be traveling with. For example, if you buy it from a cruise line and they go out of business then you just lost your insurance payment as well as your trip payment.
- Focus on what matters the most to you. It’s like Match.com. Yes, you want a rich man with hair, a boat and a home on Lake Como. But you really just need a guy who has a job and doesn’t live with his mother. Be realistic. As in romance you probably can’t have it all with trip insurance either.
- If you can, be on the same policy as your traveling companion. That isn’t always possible (especially if you live in different states) but when you can do it it will make everything much easier in the event you need to use the insurance.
- If you are going to have to make a claim pretend you’re an OCD IRA employee. Keep records of everything, get people’s names and keep and label all receipts. (We take pictures too because they’re not as easy to lose.)
- Read the entire damned policy before you buy it. Yes, we know you would rather get a rectal exam, we would too. But if something isn’t specifically stated in the policy it isn’t covered. Even if you really really think it should be. Better to know that extreme sports aren’t covered before you land on a rock bungee jumping. (Actually, best not to land on the rock.) Sometimes you can buy a rider for extreme sports if you’re really consumed by a death wish.
- If you buy a policy through InsureMyTrip.com and end up having to file a claim and it gets denied, call them and they will advocate on your behalf (unless you’re the knucklehead who bungee jumped onto the rock).
We have had elderly relatives that we were afraid we’d have to fly home for if they had a medical emergency or died so we’ve purchased insurance for at least 10 years for that contingency. Then we started to add medical evacuation coverage as we got older (really only Brunette got older) and didn’t think we wanted to have major surgery in some remote island off Indonesia (or anywhere else come to think of it).
As an example this is our situation that Gail helped us with today (you can call 1-800-487-4722 and ask for Gail and tell her we referred you and she will either hang up on you or help you).
We are leaving in mid-February for a 16 day trip from Florida to Doha, Abu Dhabi and the Maldives. Tough lives.
Brunette won the airfare for all of the flights except the ones from Florida to JFK and Doha to Abu Dhabi and back. What about the much more expensive business class flights that we got for free? Do we include them as part of our cost?
- We have an aunt who will turn 94 while we are on our trip. Although every indication is that she will outlive us all she is a widow and doesn’t have any children. We are her de facto daughters and Brunette is her health care proxy. If she gets sick or hits her expiration date it would cost a fortune to fly back to the U.S.
- We are going to the Maldives primarily to snorkel and some policies don’t include certain sports. Blonde has what could be most generously described as a woeful coordination record. If someone is going to have an accident, she’s the one to put your money on.
- Brunette has all sorts of lung conditions that are chronic, one of which is known as “Lady Windemere’s Disease”. She’s had it for years and with very little provocation her lungs become very cranky about the whole breathing thing. In other words she has a pre-existing condition and we all know that’s a dark hole to hell in the world of medical insurance.
- The Maldives have had some political turbulence and if they have any when we’re there we want to be able to get our timid infidel butts on the next flight out.
Gail found us a policy we could both be on that would cover us for all of the above situations, has only a 60 day look-back period for pre-existing conditions and that would also cover us for weather or natural disaster delays. And it has primary medical coverage meaning it pays before you have to go to your own insurance company who will probably tell you they don’t cover non-emergency care in foreign countries. Even when you try to explain that your heart jumped out of your body and landed on the sidewalk they will insist that you didn’t need to go to a hospital for that.
You may be healthy, coordinated, have younger relatives, sit on a beach chair most of the time and not mind sleeping on airport floors for days on end while a volcano erupts or arctic weather disrupts your plans. If so, your coverage will cost a lot less than ours. (Not really, ours was comped!)
But even if you’re young and healthy at least know ahead of time how you would deal with problems and if you have realistic solutions and then get coverage where you’re vulnerable. (Sounds like a condom ad but that isn’t what we meant, alhough it probably isn’t a bad idea.)
Better to have a chat with Gail or one of her colleagues and know your options than be sitting in Sudan with appendicitis after having your wallet stolen while the police are having a crack down and your tour operator just went belly up.
We’re just sayin’.