I love to travel. I think getting out of your element and going somewhere else is a way to broaden your life and make it interesting.

Travel can be an investment in your happiness, and just like any investment, it should be protected. When you’re planning a trip, you confirm your reservations, pack your bags, put your pet in a kennel, maybe arrange with a neighbor to pick up your mail and newspapers.

But what happens if you have a medical emergency while you’re on your trip? Have you thought about what kind of protection you have? You might have sufficient coverage under your regular medical insurance policy. Or you might have less coverage than you think.

Travelers should consider a variety of travel insurance plan options. The two most popular coverages are trip insurance, which protects a nonrefundable deposit in the event of a cancellation, and travel medical insurance, which protects travelers in the event of an illness or injury on a trip.

You may want to add the following options to your travel insurance policy, if they’re not already part of the policy you’re buying, depending on where you’re traveling and what kind of travel investment you want to protect:

  • Trip and flight cancellation. A trip can get canceled for a number of reasons, most notably weather- and health-related incidents. Recently, thousands of travelers were stranded because of the impact of the volcano in Iceland. Travel insurance might have helped take some of the headache out of a bad situation. Hot spots can occur across the globe, and without the right kind of travel insurance, you might lose the value of your airplane tickets or prepaid hotel bill. You may want to add a rider to your policy that ups the amount you are able to recover in the event your trip, including your flights, are canceled.
  • Lost baggage. Maybe your trip or flight didn’t get canceled, but your baggage somehow didn’t accompany you for the entire journey. It’s one thing to have to buy new clothes, but an inconvenience can turn into an emergency if you packed medicine or other necessities in your checked baggage. Lost baggage coverage can assist with replacing expensive prescriptions that will help you avoid a medical emergency.
  • Stolen wallet and passport. You won’t get far without these items. If your travel policy doesn’t include this as part of its standard coverage, consider picking up a rider that will provide immediate access to representatives who can help facilitate the continuation of your trip and your safe return home.
  • Medical benefits, evacuation, and repatriation. If medical attention is necessary in the event of an injury or illness, travel medical insurance will provide funding for treatment. If there are no adequate medical facilities in your vicinity, this part of your travel insurance policy will provide for a safe evacuation so that you can access proper medical treatment.
  • Death and dismemberment. As difficult as it is to imagine a worst-case scenario, sometimes bad things happen. Some forms of travel insurance coverage can help surviving family members manage the emotional hardship of a fatality or severe injury in a foreign country by abating the financial stress and logistical headaches of these traumas.

What Kind of Travel Insurance Plan Do I Need?

Short-term plans can protect individuals traveling overseas for several days to several months; other plans cover long-term trips of up to two years. Foreign nationals have access to travel insurance policies that will help protect them medically while residing in the United States.

A business can protect its employees who travel frequently with a comprehensive, reasonably priced travel insurance plan, which provides extra protection to the employee and to the employee’s family if they are traveling with him or her. Since these plans provide coverage beyond a health insurance plan, they are a smart option for frequent travelers.

How Is Travel Insurance Coverage Priced?

Pricing for travel insurance is based on the type of plan, the price range of the trip, the age of the traveler, the general destination, and the length of the trip. In addition to securing coverage under travel insurance, check with your health insurance carrier to confirm that your plan covers emergent and urgent care.

Some circumstances are out of your control, but with the added help of travel insurance, you can relax and concentrate on more important things-like which wine to order at dinner and how much sunscreen to use when sitting by the pool.

Remember, read the policy carefully so you fully understand the terms and conditions of the travel insurance product you’re buying.

Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.
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