How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance: 7 Tips & Tricks

How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance: 7 Tips & Tricks

We generally love travel insurance: It gives you peace of mind, reduces hassles, and makes a crisis while abroad much easier and less expensive to deal with. Though you won’t necessarily need it for every trip you take, it’s a good option that you should always consider– especially when heading to a foreign country where your usual healthcare coverage won’t likely be valid. If you’re wondering how to choose the right travel insurance amid seemingly endless options, you’ve come to the right place. You’ll find that most providers offer the same base options, which can make choosing between policies quite a challenge. Here are our top tips to help you make an informed decision before you click “buy”. 

Decide whether you really need it

Some travel insurance companies present insurance as a one-stop option for all travel plans, but that’s really not the case. Travel insurance is best for longer trips that involves a lot of movement from point “A” to point “B”. We suggest insuring any trip that takes you more than 100 miles from home, and if it involves many pre-paid, non-refundable expenses or cancellation penalties. Essentially, travel insurance protects the investment you make into your trip, so if you’re only flying home for the holidays, you probably don’t need to go through the expense of insuring it. But if you’re taking a vacation across the world? It’s definitely  a worthwhile investment in that case. 

Read related: How to Stay Safe During Your Trip Abroad– But Still Have Fun 

Is travel insurance really worth the money?

How much of your trip is pre-paid and non-refundable?

If you’ve decided that travel insurance is right for you, the next step is to carefully consider your coverage options. Before you leave home, we recommend you do the following: Add up all your non-refundable costs to determine your insurable amount. Usually, this takes into account the cost of your hotel, rental car, flight, and attraction tickets. Don’t bother insuring any refundable tickets, as your package will almost never cover any losses from those. In brief, if you’ve pre-paid for anything on your trip (meaning it can’t be refunded if something goes sideways), you need to insure those items. If you don’t do so, it may invalidate some of the coverage of your chosen plan.

Read related: Our Top Tips to Avoid Getting Sick While Traveling 

Identify your most important areas of coverage

Though your pre-paid, non-refundable expenses are where you start, you also need to consider the other types of coverage that are most important to you. For example, heading to Disney World or another park? You’re definitely going to want a weather policy in case of a hurricane.

Wondering what typical policies cover? Most insure the basics: Medical emergencies, evacuation, cancellation, lost luggage, and so on, but here are some of the more specific coverage categories that you might want.

    • MEDICAL EMERGENCIES: If your medical insurance doesn’t cover overseas emergencies, an accident might cost you a small fortune. Travel insurance bridges the gap so you don’t end up bankrupt over an injury abroad. That said, if you’re staying domestic, medical insurance is probably redundant.
    • EMERGENCY EVACUATION: If you’re seriously injured, being flown out of one hospital to a different hospital for specialized treatment can be very expensive. Evacuation insurance covers the cost of a flight on a medical jet.
    • TRIP CANCELLATION, INTERRUPTION, AND FLIGHT DELAYS: One of the basics in travel insurance is trip cancellation insurance, because flights, hotel stays, and rentals are often the most expensive part of the trip; they’re also usually non-refundable. Build in some flexibility with a reimbursement package for cancellations or interruptions. Insurance will cover these if you get sick, have a death in the family, or if there’s a natural disaster. Many plans will cover the cost of a rescheduled ticket if your previous flight was delayed.
    • LOST LUGGAGE AND THEFT: The only thing worse than an airline losing your luggage or a theft stealing from you is having to pay to replace all the stolen goods. Travel insurance covers the cost of lost luggage or property damage done by airlines or thieves, which can be a real help if you’ve brought valuables with you.

Read related: Are RFID-Blocking Wallets a New Necessity for Safe Travel? 

 

The pros and cons of buying travel insurance

Choose specific policies for high-value items

Though the basic categories of travel insurance make sense for most trips, you should also consider specific supplemental policies for more specific circumstances. Bringing an expensive laptop along with you? Insure that item specifically, because many travel insurance plans only cover the value of up to $500 per individual item. The same goes for expensive photo equipment. 

Read related: Essential Travel Photography Gear For Your Next Trip 

If you’re bringing a lot of high-value items, you may consider a specific package for your industry. Photographers may want to purchase a travel insurance policy designed specifically for them, for example, especially if they photograph professionally and could lose substantial income from a stolen piece of equipment.

Don’t wait too long to buy

If you’re putting off buying your travel insurance, be aware that most policies require you to purchase your policy before or near the time of your first payment towards the trip- usually when you purchase your flight or tour package payment. This is why it’s crucial that you decide on your insurance plan before you buy your tickets.

Make sure to buy travel insurance well before your trip-- and to read the fine print

Read the fine print

While scouring through a lengthy contract is no fun, travel insurance is no different from any other sort of policy: there’s fine print and loopholes for every package. Know what you’re getting and do your research ahead of time, especially for your specific needs. This will keep you from finding out all too late that your policy doesn’t cover something important during your trip– an unpleasant experience, to say the least.

Read related: Why Traveling is Good For You (And 6 Reasons to Take The Plunge)

Check your credit card benefits

Surprisingly, many credit cards offer insurance for items such as rentals, lost luggage, and trip cancellations. Coverage can be iffy, so read through the details carefully. This is always a good step to take, as it ensures you won’t buy a separate policy needlessly or pay for coverage you already have through your credit card. 

Some credit card companies offer travel insurance coverage

Top 15 Ways to Budget Your Trip: Money-Saving Strategies

Top 15 Ways to Budget Your Trip: Money-Saving Strategies

Going on a vacation? There’s no reason you have to spend a fortune to enjoy a great getaway! A few money-saving tactics can really stretch your dollar and give you a more authentic-to-the-country experience. Here are 15 great ways to budget your trip. 

Travel in the off season

One of the biggest ways to save serious money while traveling is to visit in the off-season. In most places, this is October to April. You’ll get cheaper airfare, hotels, and sometimes even cheaper tickets to attractions. Cities are calmer and more laid back, so you’ll end up spending far less time in line.

Stay local

It’s always cheaper to stay in a B&B or a rented private residence than it is to stay in a hotel, and with homestays or apartments you typically get a more authentic experience. Time spent with locals exposes you to the language, food, and traditions of actual citizens of the place where you’re traveling, and you can make some great friendships to boot!

Avoid tourist restaurants

Any establishment catering to tourists will almost always upcharge their products to travelers who don’t know any better, so visit local establishments to get authentic tastes at lower prices. A good tip off is to avoid any place that advertises English speaking servers or menus.

Can’t read the menu? Just ask for the daily special!

15 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Trip

Pay in cash

A quick stop at an ATM can save you a ton of money in international currency conversion fees. It’s also faster to pay in cash, and small stores and restaurants really appreciate it. When you’re getting cash, try to withdraw as much as you’re comfortable with at a time, since ATMs charge a flat withdrawal fee.

Exchange currency at your bank

Exchange bureaus charge a fee for their services, and they’re often not up front about what exactly you’re paying to get your currency. There’s a buying and a selling rate, and some bureaus don’t show you both. Get your currency from your bank before your trip and save yourself money in fees.

15 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Trip

Skip the rental car

Renting a car is prohibitively expensive in most urban areas, and on top of that, it’s just inconvenient. Between finding parking and the potential for costly repairs if you’re in accident, it’s just not worth the effort.

Take trains

Instead of renting a car, hop on a train! Railpasses can save you tons here if you’re traveling a lot, but if you’re just taking one short trip, stick to a point-to-point ticket. And don’t be lured in by first class tickets: second-class tickets get you there just as fast and cost half as much.

15 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Trip

…Or take the bus

Some cities with expensive train tickets have much cheaper options for local or inter-city bus travel. Britain is a prime example of this; bus tickets are generally available at around a third of the cost of a train ticket! Reserving them in advance online can bring down the cost of travel even more. That said, buses are much slower and don’t give you as much of a chance to see the countryside, so spending the extra money might still be worth it.

Buy souvenirs where they’re cheap

If you’re on a multi-stop trip, get your souvenirs wherever they’re cheapest. Countries with open air markets often have a huge range of gifts for purchase at extremely low prices, and the offerings are usually more memorable than store bought ones in larger cities that are massively marked up. Plus, at markets you can haggle!

Don’t overtip at restaurants

Americans are used to tipping around 15 to 20 percent, but in most other places, this isn’t the custom. While your server will certainly appreciate it, know that it may not be expected. Check online to find out if your destination expects tips. Don’t ask an employee at the restaurant.

Skip hotel food

Eating in your hotel can be convenient, but you’ll be upcharged like crazy for the convenience. On that note, skip room service and the minibar in your hotel room.  

Buy your own food

Very few things beat a picnic, and you can have a grocery store feast just about anywhere at a really low price. It’s a great learning experience to shop at a grocery store, and you can stock your hotel fridge up at the beginning of your trip to save time and money.

Eat what’s in season

This is true even when you’re not traveling, but produce that is in-season is both cheaper and better tasting. Take advantage of daily specials for great deals and fresh produce.  Local farmer’s markets are a wonderful source of cultural color, tradition, and delicious native goodies, too– see our complete guide to some of the world’s best food markets for inspiration

15 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Trip

Drink at the bar

If you’re stopping for a drink, order at the bar rather at a table. Prices are usually lower because there’s no server to attend to you. Plus, it’s a great opportunity to make friends with the people around you– especially if you’re traveling solo! While you’re at it, order what the locals drink. You get a sample of what’s popular in the area, and locally popular drinks usually come at a cheaper price. Think Sangria in Spain, rum in Cuba, and regional wines in France. You get the picture! 

Get a museum or city pass

We’ve talked a lot about city passes here at Loftus, and for good reason! Travel passes can save you a ton of money if you’re visiting a lot of attractions, and you only have to buy the travel pass once and get access to all the sights without waiting in ticket lines.

Because the passes can be expensive, it’s worth it to check your itinerary to make sure that the pass is actually cheaper than buying the tickets individually. Note that they almost always come with a few days of unlimited public transport in the mix.

Have a clear budget

Sometimes the best way to save money is to keep track of it. Having a daily spending plan for your food, hotels, attractions, and incidentals can be a huge money saver. There are some great apps you can get to log your spending and make you aware of where your money is actually going, and having a plan will help you to feel way less guilty about the money you do spend. Happy travels! 

15 Tips for Planning A Budget Friendly Trip