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Six things you need to know about travel insurance before your departure

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Several add-ons are available for travel insurance, and it varies between companies: terror attacks, foreign funerals, kidnapping ransom, baggage loss, and rental car liability. Nearly any cost associated with a trip can be insured, so it is good to shop around and find the best price.

More and more people are traveling again; however, breaking news can unexpectedly alter travel plans. You might be prepared to book your next vacation, but it's wise to consider buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy to protect you from financial losses incurred by unexpected issues, both before and during your travels. We have assembled our list of six things you need to know about travel insurance. Let's get right to it.

1. Compare travel insurance policies
Not all travel insurance policies are the same!  It is best to shop around. We recommend a travel insurance comparison service like Hardbacon. You'll want to use a service like Hardbacon, because it helps you quickly find and compare the different policies available so that you can get precisely what you want. Travel insurance is often overlooked when we book travel but is a godsend when the unforeseen happens.  

2. Be aware of travel advisories
The best insurance you can have to prevent many travel problems is knowledge, and if you are traveling to a foreign country(s), it is imperative that you check for any travel advisories in your destination(s). You can find a list of travel advisories on the US State Department’s website. The majority of these travel advisories are intended to ensure your health and wellbeing and will be for health issues like a particular disease such as malaria or coronavirus that has an ongoing outbreak in the area. Advisories are also for security risk issues such as violent crimes, terrorism issues, armed conflict, kidnappings, and minefields. Warnings may be for certain regions of a country and not affect other areas, so it is good to know where you will travel.  

3. The four main parts of travel insurance
No two travel insurance policies are alike, and this is why a comparison service is useful. There are four types of coverage that constitute travel insurance policies.

Trip cancellation: This coverage reimburses you for expenses resulting from the cancelation of your trip due to covered reasons, i.e., an unexpected emergency like a death in the family, a medical crisis, or a catastrophe to your home. Some plans may include benefits for delayed or lost baggage or delayed trips.

  • Accident coverage: This coverage provides compensation (similar to life insurance) if you are injured or die during your trip. There may also be emergency assistance benefits that cover lost baggage (this coverage may be part of personal possessions), evacuations, repatriation, and medical and dental expenses, including preexisting medical conditions (these may be covered in the medical coverage section).
  • Medical coverage: This coverage will take care of transportation and medical care costs if you are involved in an accident or become ill while traveling. It is essential to identify coverage limitations and exclusions for this portion of the policy. The differences in medical coverage limitations and exclusions can significantly affect the policy's price, and you need to know if and how well you will be covered when certain things happen, so read carefully. Additionally, some countries may require you to have certain illnesses and minimum levels of coverage to travel there.  
  • Personal possessions: This insurance covers your bags and belongings for the duration of your trip, including computers, smartphones, cameras, and jewelry. Most policies offer coverage for lost money and passports as well.

These four coverages can be bought in a package or separately as specialty travel insurance or to supplement a specific aspect. There is also annual travel insurance that will not just cover a single trip but a year's worth of travel (some even renew).  

4. What is generally not covered with travel insurance
While having travel insurance prevents financial disasters, knowing where coverage falls short is also key. There are usually some exclusions that are part of most policies: Pre existing medical conditions are usually not covered in the medical section. If you have a preexisting condition, look for a plan that will cover your ailment.  

Luggage is not considered lost for a certain number of hours, so it is wise to have a day's worth of clothing, medications, and toiletries in your carry-on. Not all trip cancellations are covered. If the event causing the damage is out of your control (family death, work obligations, illness, natural disaster, airline bankruptcy), you will be covered, but changing your mind won't be. If dates are firmly confirmed for a tour before buying airline tickets, any changes are considered the tour company's responsibility. Read your policy before buying; your background, policy price, time of travel, destination, and the insurer can be very different, so comparison shopping is the way to go.  

5. What a credit card covers
Some credit cards provide good travel insurance benefits, and some cards offer few if any. You may be better off getting separate travel insurance. When shopping for travel insurance, choose a plan that covers what the card does not, look for the following:

Travel accident insurance- what does it cover? Death and dismemberment or more? It won't usually cover medical expenses.  

  • Trip cancellation insurance: For about 15% of cards, nonrefundable costs (paid with the card) may be refunded if an illness or unexpected event happens. Look for exclusions of preexisting medical conditions, this may be a reason to buy travel insurance.  
  • Lost luggage: Some cards will provide additional compensation above what the airline supplies (home and renters insurance may as well). Look for the exclusions, there are usually many.   
  • Rental car insurance: Some cards will provide collision insurance, rental companies charge about $30 a day, travel insurance will cost half of this.  
  • Cell phones: Some cards will cover lost and destroyed but not stolen phones.  

6. Travel insurance add-ons
Several add-ons are available for travel insurance, and it varies between companies: terror attacks, foreign funerals, kidnapping ransom, baggage loss, and rental car liability. Nearly any cost associated with a trip can be insured, so it is good to shop around and find the best price.  

With proper knowledge and insurance, you can both prevent problems from happening in the first place and the financial burdens that result.

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