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What Insurance Do You Need When You Travel?

It’s been awhile since I’ve traveled outside the country [3], but I do like to take frequent trips in the United States. Whenever you travel, it’s a good idea to make sure that you are protected. This means that you need to have adequate insurance coverage.

There are different types of insurance coverage available for travelers, and you need to carefully consider your needs before deciding what will be required for your trip.

What Will You Be Doing?

First of all, figure out what you will be doing. The needs of someone who is whitewater rafting in South America, or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, are different from someone headed to Disney World. Figure out what you will be doing, and where you will be doing it. If you are engaging in adventure travel, you might need emergency medical evacuation coverage. On the other hand, if you are just enjoying a leisurely trip through New Zealand, what you already have might be sufficient for medical problems.

Also, consider your travel arrangements. Have you pre-paid for a specific tour? What happens if your flight is cancelled? Will you be renting a car? If you are paying a lot of money for your plans, trip cancellation insurance might be a good idea — just in case. I rarely buy trip cancellation insurance for short plane rides, since they aren’t as expensive. However, for major trips, I buy insurance for a relatively small fee.

What Coverage Do You Already Have?

Next, figure out what coverage you already have. Call your health insurance provider, and explain where you are going, and what you hope to do there. If you are staying stateside, you’ll want to make sure that there are in-network providers nearby. One of the reasons that my family is insured by BlueCross BlueShield is that we can visit my husband’s family in New York, or my grandpa in Arizona, and there are in-network providers that cost less than out-of-network providers.

If you are traveling abroad, find out what your health insurance company will cover. Your policy might cover basic medical attention in some countries, and might even cover emergency evacuation — if you aren’t involved in anything dangerous at the time of the accident. It’s worth it to check the health care policies of other countries, too, since some of the developed countries offer universal health care that won’t cost you anything (others, though, have citizenship requirements).

Be up front about dangerous activities, such as rafting, mountain climbing, zip-lining, and other extreme/adventure sports. You should also realize that if you are visiting an undeveloped country or a remote location, you might have to purchase extra insurance to cover you in the event of a rescue. A helicopter ride out of the Himalayas can be quite expensive if you don’t have the insurance to cover it.

Realize, too, that your credit card issuer might already be covering you. Some cards cover rental cars [4], and you might already have lost baggage coverage. Sometimes, you even have trip cancellation if you make your purchase with the credit card. Double check your benefits to see what is available to you.

You want to ensure that you are properly protected when you travel. Consider your needs, and then purchase the insurance that will address them.

(Photo: stevecadman [5])