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How Do I Know How Much Travel Insurance to Buy?

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You already know you need travel insurance to safeguard your vacation. But how much do you really need to buy? $10,000 in emergency medical benefits, or $50,000? $150 in travel delay benefits, or $1,600?

You want to make sure you’re well protected — but you don’t want to spend a ton of money on insurance, either. We’ll walk you through six questions to ask when you’re figuring out how much travel insurance to buy.

1. Where are you going?

Did you know the cost of travel insurance isn’t affected by your choice of destination? It doesn’t matter if you’re heading to Iceland or Cambodia — the quotes you receive are determined solely by your trip cost and your age.

However, your destination is an important factor when you’re thinking about how much travel insurance to buy. That’s because if you’re heading overseas, you’ll need the additional protection of emergency medical benefits and emergency medical transportation benefits. And if you’re visiting more remote areas, there’s a greater chance you’ll require expensive emergency medical assistance.

For instance, let’s say a traveler falls and breaks his ankle while on a walking tour in Paris. Fortunately, several high-quality hospitals are just a short ambulance ride away. Travel insurance can pay for emergency medical care and emergency medical transportation required by his covered serious injury — but the total bill is unlikely to be astronomical. A plan like OneTripSM Basic, with up to $10,000 in emergency medical/dental and up to $50,000 in emergency medical transportation, may be enough.

Now, let’s say the same traveler breaks his ankle while trekking in the Himalayan steppe, where the nearest appropriate medical facility is hundreds of miles away. The only way to transport him to a hospital is a medevac helicopter, which can easily exceed six figures in many parts of the world. (Learn more about the cost of emergency medical transportation.) If your travels are taking you to less developed countries or wilderness areas, you need more insurance. OneTripSM Premier includes up to $50,000 in emergency medical benefits and up to $1 million in emergency medical transportation.

Get a quote to compare plans side by side.

2. How tight is your travel budget?

Travelers on a budget often opt for a low-cost plan that offers limited benefits. However, it’s important to make sure your travel investment is fully protected. Another way to say, “How much travel insurance do I need?” is: “How much can I afford to lose if things go wrong?” A less price-conscious traveler may not have a problem buying new clothes if her bag goes missing before a cruise, for instance. But a traveler on a fixed budget needs protection from expensive travel mishaps.

Let’s say you’ve been saving for your dream cruise for two years, and then you miss the ship’s departure because bad weather delays your flight to Miami. Your heart breaks: You can’t afford to pay out of pocket for airfare to the next port of call, where you could catch up with the ship. But if you have OneTripSM Prime, you get up to $800 in travel delay benefits, which can reimburse your airfare to San Juan so you can rejoin the cruise.

3. Do you have an existing medical condition?

The good news is that having a pre-existing condition will not prevent you from buying travel insurance to protect your trip. However, when you’re deciding how much travel insurance to buy, you must make sure you choose a plan that includes the existing medical condition benefit, and you have to meet all the requirements:

  • You must insure your entire trip cost. The total trip cost isn’t just airfare and hotels, but all travel expenses you incur prior to your departure date, such as tours, event tickets, theme park passes, cruise ship excursions, etc.
  • You must purchase your plan within 14 days of making your trip deposit or first payment.
  • You must be a U.S. resident.
  • You must be medically able to travel on the day you buy the plan.

(Additional terms and conditions apply, so be sure to read your plan documents.)

4. How much is your trip going to cost?

For single-trip travel insurance plans, the maximum trip cost ranges from $10,000 to $100,000. (For trips that exceed that upper limit, give us a call to discuss insurance options). For multi-trip plans, there are annual maximum limits on trip cancellation benefits, from $2,000 to $15,000. Whichever plan you choose, make sure it’s enough to cover all your costs.

What if you have very few pre-paid trip costs because you’re a business traveler, a couch-surfer or a travel-hacking genius? Consider OneTripSM Emergency Medical, a flexible and affordable travel insurance plan that includes only post-departure benefits. It includes emergency medical/dental and emergency medical transportation benefits, as well as benefits for trip delays, missed connections, and lost, stolen or damaged baggage.

5. What’s in your suitcase?

If you answer, “A bunch of shorts and T-shirts,” then you may not need much baggage coverage. If, however, you’re packing expensive clothing, electronics or sports gear, make sure you buy travel insurance with sufficient coverage. OneTripSM Premier has the highest limit for baggage loss/damage/theft: $2,000.

Read your policy carefully, as there are limits on benefits for jewelry, watches, gems, furs, cameras and camera equipment, camcorders, sporting equipment, computers, radios and other electronics. You’ll need to provide original receipts for these items or they won’t be covered. Another good idea: Take photographs of your suitcase when you’re packing, so you have evidence of what’s inside.

6. What’s your travel style?

This may seem like a silly question, but it matters when you’re considering how much travel insurance to buy! If you’re a Type A traveler, that means you’re sensitive to stress and you get unbearably frustrated by travel delays. You really should protect yourself with a plan like OneTripSM Prime, which includes a slew of benefits to help when things go wrong: emergency medical care, baggage delay, travel delay and more.

If, on the other hand, you’re a relaxed traveler who can roll with the punches, you may be fine with a travel insurance plan that focuses on the most crucial benefits: trip cancellation/interruption and emergency medical.

Still can’t decide how much travel insurance you need? Give us a call! Our travel insurance advisers can explain each plan’s benefits and help you pick the right one for your trip.  

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