What to Look For When Choosing a Travel Insurance Plan

Did you know that the cost of medical care when you are traveling could be extremely high? If you are already covered under an employer health insurance plan or individual/family health insurance plan, you may think that you can travel without worries, but that is not always the case. Many HMOs, PPOs, and state health insurance programs do not cover you if you are not in the United States. Even if you are traveling within the U.S., you could face high charges because the hospital or doctor you go to is not in your local plan. Travel insurance is fairly inexpensive and bridges that time when you are away from home, giving you peace of mind. If something does happen, you most likely will not be paying for the high cost of health care out-of-pocket.There are many different travel insurance plans on the market, though. How can you know which one is right for you? Although your travel agent or tour company will probably try to sell you their own plan, it might not be the cheapest or best choice. Here is what to look for when choosing a travel insurance plan:Coverage for all of your activitiesSome travel insurance plans don’t cover “extreme sports”; the very activities that many tourists like to try while on vacation. They are not just talking about skydiving, either. Sometimes, activities as mild as snorkeling and sailing are not covered in the insurance plan. If you intend to do more than relax on the beach, make sure that the plan you choose covers you.Toll-free telephone assistance no matter where you travelIf you fall ill in a foreign country, it may be hard and scary to find help. Some travel insurance companies do not offer personal assistance. These companies may reimburse you for bills when you get home. Instead, look for a plan that has a number you can call. A representative should be able to help you work through whatever problem you have as you are traveling, not just foot the bill when you get home. Make sure that the phone calls you make are toll free from wherever you are traveling or that you get reimbursed for them as part of the settlement.Protection based on your scheduleWhen does your travel insurance policy actually start? For some, the insurance policy does not start until you get to your destination, and if that is the case, what happens if you break your leg at the airport during your layover? You need protection that covers you from the moment you walk out of your door, even if it overlaps with your current coverage a bit. If you plan to travel a lot over the next several months, you might even want to look into an annual travel insurance plan; this might be a less expensive option for you.Non-health benefitsTravel insurance plans are not just about health. While most people buy them for protection for high doctors’ fees, your travel insurance plan should cover much more than accidents while you are away from home. In addition, travel insurance should cover things like lost or stolen luggage, tickets for flights and shows that are canceled, and more. When you are looking at the non-health benefits, be careful to review the exact policies you are buying. For example, Plan A might refund your plane tickets in full if you decide not to go on the trip while Plan B might only refund your plane tickets if the flight is canceled or significantly delayed.PriceAs with most purchases, price is very important when considering travel insurance. It can be confusing to compare policies because each one will have different specifics. At the end of the day though, it does not make sense to pay for the bells and whistles that come with one policy is there is a simpler policy that gives you only the things you need at a cheaper price. Usually, the price of the policy is determined by the total cost of your trip, the area where you are traveling, and the length of your stay, but other things can also come into play, especially if you want pre-existing medical conditions to be covered.The key to a perfect travel insurance plan, as with any insurance plan, is to do your research. Too many people purchase a policy without really understanding what they are buying. Then, when they need help, it is too late. Don’t fall into this position. Understand your policy and carry it with you when you travel so that you can refer to it if you need help. With the right travel insurance policy, you can protect yourself while on vacation.