Where to buy travel insurance
Last updated: January 1
No one expects anything to go wrong on vacation. But injuries, illnesses and cancellations can interfere with even the most thorough travel arrangements. If things go awry, travel insurance may help minimize your financial losses.
There are plenty of ways to obtain travel insurance; however, the plans will vary depending on the outlet. Here's a primer on where to look for travel insurance and what kinds of policies you might find.
Your insurance agent
Check with the company that insures your car or home, as some partner with affiliates to offer travel insurance plans to their customers. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), standard coverage typically includes trip cancellation, lost or stolen baggage and emergency medical assistance. The III puts the price of a typical policy between 5 and 7 percent of the cost of your trip.
Before you buy, ask your agent to help you determine if your existing homeowners, auto or life insurance policies offer any applicable benefits. You may also want to see if your credit card company offers travel insurance coverage on trips purchased using the card.
Travel agent or travel booking websites
It's common for travel agents and travel booking websites to offer travel insurance policies. But there are caveats to keep in mind when booking through these outlets versus directly with an insurer.
For instance, while travel agents may be able to speak about the experiences previous clients have had with an insurer, they may not be well-versed in the nuances of the policy.
It may take more time to understand the details of a policy sold through booking websites, according to Frommers.com, as the primary description on the booking website may not touch on all the details you're looking for. Read the fine print to clarify what is covered. This applies to any "travel protection plans" you may see on booking websites, as well.
Tour or cruise company
Insurance policies offered by tour and cruise companies sometimes come with an important caveat: Only the portions of your trip booked through them may be covered. For example, insurance purchased from a cruise company may not cover your flights to and from the cruise, Frommers.com warns.
The US Travel Insurance Association suggests checking the fine print to see if extras like airfare, shore excursions and pre- and post-touring are covered, too.
In addition to travel insurance, some companies also sell what's called a cancellation waiver. A waiver typically costs $40 to $60, according to the III. Often, a waiver covers only the cost of the company's tour and offers either a refund or credit if you cancel. Unlike an insurance policy, the III says a waiver typically won't cover you if you have to cancel your trip immediately before departure or after the trip begins.
Waivers often have greater restrictions and provide fewer consumer protections than insurance policies, the III says, since they're not regulated by state law like insurance policies are. If the tour or cruise company goes out of business, you may not be able to collect on the waiver you purchased from them.
By doing your research and selecting the right travel insurance ahead of time, you can kick back and relax on your vacation.