8 Things to Know When Buying Travel Insurance

UStiA—whose mission is to foster high standards of ethical conduct and business practices—offers these eight consumer-wise hints to help with your travel insurance decision.

1. Know the company that is underwriting the policy. Ask for the name of the insurance company underwriting the policy. All legitimate policies must identify the insurance company.

2. If you are not familiar with the company providing your travel insurance, do a little research. Visit the company website. Check the credentials of the company’s insurer through A.M. Best (, an international insurance rating agency; or the Better Business Bureau. Also check for membership in the US Travel Insurance Association ( The Web site carries a list of member companies, each of whom adheres to strict legal and ethical standards.

3. Buy from a reputable source such as a travel agent belonging to the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), or from a reputable cruise line, tour operator, airline, Internet site, insurance broker or directly from the travel insurance provider.

4. Assess your needs. Will you need medical protection, financial reimbursement in case you have to cancel your trip or a family member becomes ill, financial reimbursement in case your trip is delayed because of bad weather? Ask yourself what possible scenarios could develop to derail your travel plans.

5. Know if you have other coverage. When you travel, don’t assume that you have the coverage you need from your credit cards, home owners insurance, airlines, or other sources. While these sources may offer limited coverage for some travel scenarios, only comprehensive travel insurance offers full protection under a single umbrella.

6. Know the difference between “Travel Protection,” a travel waiver, and travel insurance:

  • A Travel Waiver will usually give you a future credit with the same travel supplier for a missed vacation or cruise but will not financially reimburse you.
  • “Travel Protection” may not be the same as travel insurance. While the term “Travel Protection” has been used by some unscrupulous companies, many legitimate companies also use it to describe travel insurance.
  • Travel insurance must be underwritten by a legitimate insurance company and is regulated by the state in which it is sold.

7. Know what the policy includes. Always do your homework and read the policy carefully so you know what is and is not included. Most companies provide a customer service number for questions and answers, and also provide a grace period for cancellation.

8. Keep all appropriate paperwork/documentation. When traveling, keep records and save all receipts in case you have to file a claim for travel delay, medical treatment, lost luggage, or any of other unforeseen situations.

When determining whether travel insurance is right for you, ask yourself the following basic questions:

  • Can I afford the financial risk of losing my vacation investment if something goes wrong due to illness, weather, or other unforeseen circumstances?
  • If I have to cut my trip short because of an emergency can I afford the cost of a return airline trip home?
  • Does my health insurance cover me away from home and in foreign countries if I become ill or am injured while traveling?
  • If my bags are lost or I have to spend an extra night because of weather-related problems, can I afford to buy replacement necessities and pay for extra lodging?

If you answered ‘No’ to any of the above questions, chances are that travel insurance may be a wise investment. Travel insurance can end up saving you a lot of money.