Travel Insurance Caveats?

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windaar
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Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by windaar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:34 pm

We are planning a trip abroad NEXT June so a long way off. The place we want to rent fills up so have to book now. Cost for rental and airfare for family tops 10K. They recommend travel insurance, and specifically Travelex. I see that they are highly rated on Forbes. My Dad had a bad experience with travel insurance in the 80s when a family illness somehow did not qualify and it covered nothing for a cancelled European trip. I turn to Bogleheads for advice on what to ask and look for. Thanks in advance.

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willthrill81
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm

Travel credit cards are probably one of the best overall options out there, and they are often free (or you get paid for using them) when you account for sign-up rewards and cash back and/or miles earned.

Are you concerned about trip cancellation, health costs incurred while traveling, etc., or all of the above?
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

02nz
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by 02nz » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:45 pm

I always self-insure for risks that do not cause financial hardship. After all the insurance companies have the data on claim rates, and collectively customers don't come out ahead. Missing a trip because of illness would be bad, but it shouldn't cause financial hardship. So I never buy travel insurance. If you are considering buy it, read the fine print very carefully about what is covered and what isn't. (If say you buy coverage for airfare for 4 people, and want to cancel the trip for all 4 because one falls ill, will the insurance cover that?)

And I probably wouldn't buy anything with the Travelex logo on it. That's the company that sells foreign currency at airports, always at outrageous rates (like 20% worse than anywhere else). I don't know what this Forbes rating is that you referred to, but sometimes these are really advertisements disguised as articles.

(Medical/medevac is different - that has to do with your health rather than the travel per se. You should check to see what your existing health plan covers for travel, and consider whether add'l coverage is appropriate. For travel to developed destinations, it's probably not needed.)
Last edited by 02nz on Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

GmanJeff
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by GmanJeff » Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:49 pm

It is like other forms of insurance in that it covers what the contract specifies, and nothing else. If you want "cancel for any reason" coverage, you'll pay a lot more but will have very broad coverage. Be conscious of the dollar reimbursement limits for covered situations, especially when trying to compare different policies.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:00 pm

windaar wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:34 pm
We are planning a trip abroad NEXT June so a long way off. The place we want to rent fills up so have to book now. Cost for rental and airfare for family tops 10K. They recommend travel insurance, and specifically Travelex. I see that they are highly rated on Forbes. My Dad had a bad experience with travel insurance in the 80s when a family illness somehow did not qualify and it covered nothing for a cancelled European trip. I turn to Bogleheads for advice on what to ask and look for. Thanks in advance.
Take a look at the travel insurance section of www.CruiseCritic.com (a LOT of the issues are not cruise-specific) :
https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/4 ... insurance/

Also, you might contact www.TripInsuranceStore.com - they are a broker working with several vetted insurers. (no additional charge)
But CALL them, don't just rely upon the online summaries, as the fine print can *really* matter.
(Browsing through the summaries might be useful, but for "newbies", call them to select a policy.)

We've had policies from Travel Insured through them, and in addition to the "purchasing" being handled well, our CLAIMS were paid promptly, without any nonsense, and that includes some large claims. It's often easy to BUY the policies, but some vendors have bad reputations in terms of actually paying if there is a claim.

Ask them your question: "things to worry/think about", etc. That's what they are there for.
Things to keep in mind are: any pre-existing health conditions (defined specifically for travel insurance). Any chance of a Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) rider?
There can be some deadlines for purchasing, depending upon the types of coverage you need.
Do you need medical coverage, or just coverage for non-refundable payments?

Charge cards are cutting back on travel insurance, and some of them (all?) do not include pre-existing conditions or CFAR.

Good luck!

RM
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windaar
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by windaar » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:05 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm
Are you concerned about trip cancellation, health costs incurred while traveling, etc., or all of the above?
Concerned about that much money so far in the future. What if a kid is sick? If a close relative dies 2 days before? If there is a terror threat and airport is closed or flights suspended? etc. I guess that I should look more closely into specific cancellation policies of the airline and the rental co.

02nz
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by 02nz » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:10 pm

windaar wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:05 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm
Are you concerned about trip cancellation, health costs incurred while traveling, etc., or all of the above?
Concerned about that much money so far in the future. What if a kid is sick? If a close relative dies 2 days before? If there is a terror threat and airport is closed or flights suspended? etc. I guess that I should look more closely into specific cancellation policies of the airline and the rental co.
If an airline cancels your flight, you're generally going to be able to choose a refund or re-accommodation. But for the other risks you're going to have to read carefully the coverage terms of any policy you're looking to purchase.

TXJeff
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by TXJeff » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:13 pm

Two popular choices:

1. World Nomads. I've used them for many trips. Had to file a couple of claims. No problem, and they covered exactly what they were supposed to. Downsides are: pre-existing conditions not covered. Focus is on medical--trip cancellation and lost luggage coverage are limited.

2. IMG Patriot International. A friend with a pre-existing condition uses this because it covers the sudden onset of illness from a pre-existing condition. Seems especially popular with time limited US expats in Europe.

As with all insurance, of course, the devil is in the details.

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StevieG72
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by StevieG72 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:22 pm

The devil is in the details! You have to compare policies so that you get the best coverage for your money. Purchasing within a short time frame of booking trip will waive preexisting conditions for many policies. ( normally 21 days max)

I always purchase travel insurance, this year I had to cancel a trip two days prior to departure due to a sick family member. Travel insurance covered 100% of non refundable expenses. This policy was purchased from Travelex, underwritten by Berkshire Hathaway Ins. In the future I will likely use Travelex.

Many folks think EVERYTHING is covered. Reading and having a general understanding of what the policy will cover and what triggers a covered event, as well as what does not is key. Squaremouth recently gave away $10,000 dollars to a person that actually read the policy! On page 7 of the documents it had instructions to follow, the first person to do so won the money. It took 23 hours, however Squaremouth expected it to take 1 year!
Fools think their own way is right, but the wise listen to others.

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willthrill81
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:35 pm

windaar wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:05 pm
willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm
Are you concerned about trip cancellation, health costs incurred while traveling, etc., or all of the above?
Concerned about that much money so far in the future. What if a kid is sick? If a close relative dies 2 days before? If there is a terror threat and airport is closed or flights suspended? etc. I guess that I should look more closely into specific cancellation policies of the airline and the rental co.
Your health insurance may largely cover that expense; check your policy.

The other issues might be covered by a travel credit card and/or the airline, as noted above; again, check the details.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

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Watty
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by Watty » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:35 pm

A few random comments.

Before my wife was on Medicare I mainly bought travel insurance to cover getting us back to the US if we needed to be evacuated. That can be crazy expensive compared to the other travel expenses that we might have lost.

When booking things be sure to read the details, many times a non-refundable plane ticket might still be changeable for a fee. The problem is that if you need to delay a return flight for few days the price of new ticket may be dramatically higher than your flight so in addition to the change fee you may have to pay the differences in the price too.

Some policies will waive pre existing condition restrictions but only if you buy the policy within a limited time, like a week or two, of when you make your first payment for the trip. Be sure to figure out the details before you start paying for your trip.

If any of the people traveling are of childbearing age but sure to look into how pregnancy is covered.

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:35 pm
Your health insurance may largely cover that expense; check your policy.
+1

It was a while back but when I was researching a trip I had Blue Cross and when I called them they said that I would be covered for emergency care and they even had some in network doctors and hospitals in many larger European cities. Normally you would still need to pay for your care and then submit a claim form to get reimbursed.

In some less developed countries, like some in central and south America, I have heard stories of people showing up at emergency rooms and being expected to prepay for care if they did not have acceptable insurance. I am not sure how widespread that really is.

Medicare will not cover you outside the US(with some very limited exceptions) but your Medicare supplement might provide a $50K in coverage. Even in a country where medical costs are reasonable that might not cover much for a major hospital stay.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:39 pm

If your destination suffers some sort of calamity (weather, terrorism, whatever) the airline will likely post a waiver for that destination and you can get your fare refunded. The vast majority of your other reservations will be refundable less a small deposit.

Your credit card likely covers major delays.

I've never seen any need for a travel policy beyond that.

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ResearchMed
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by ResearchMed » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:53 pm

Some very good points, and some additional comments:
Watty wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:35 pm
A few random comments.

Before my wife was on Medicare I mainly bought travel insurance to cover getting us back to the US if we needed to be evacuated. That can be crazy expensive compared to the other travel expenses that we might have lost.

When booking things be sure to read the details, many times a non-refundable plane ticket might still be changeable for a fee. The problem is that if you need to delay a return flight for few days the price of new ticket may be dramatically higher than your flight so in addition to the change fee you may have to pay the differences in the price too.

RM: In part because of the higher priced "last minute return tickets" possibility, some travel insurance has "trip interruption" (not cancellation) with 150% of the base amount insured.

Some policies will waive pre existing condition restrictions but only if you buy the policy within a limited time, like a week or two, of when you make your first payment for the trip. Be sure to figure out the details before you start paying for your trip.

RM: There is at least one major travel insurer operating in the USA (although there are varying state regulations) that will provide pre-existing condition coverage as late as within 24 hours of FINAL payment (defined narrowly, obviously). And they also offer CFAR (Cancel For Any Reason) that late, but it is much more expensive at that late stage.

If any of the people traveling are of childbearing age but sure to look into how pregnancy is covered.

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 5:35 pm
Your health insurance may largely cover that expense; check your policy.
+1

It was a while back but when I was researching a trip I had Blue Cross and when I called them they said that I would be covered for emergency care and they even had some in network doctors and hospitals in many larger European cities. Normally you would still need to pay for your care and then submit a claim form to get reimbursed.

In some less developed countries, like some in central and south America, I have heard stories of people showing up at emergency rooms and being expected to prepay for care if they did not have acceptable insurance. I am not sure how widespread that really is.

RM: This can be a real problem is some places, and care has sometimes been refused until payment is received. However, *some* travel insurers WILL arrange to wire money or guarantee payment in those situations.
In one overseas ER, I saw a sign that said they would only accept payment guarantees from their list of "approved" travel insurers. I didn't look at the list, as we could pay with a charge card.


Medicare will not cover you outside the US(with some very limited exceptions) but your Medicare supplement might provide a $50K in coverage. Even in a country where medical costs are reasonable that might not cover much for a major hospital stay.

RM: For anyone with a lifetime cap on overseas coverage by their regular health insurer, this is very important. One "fix" for this is to make sure that the travel insurance you get is 'primary". This means you do NOT need to submit first to your "regular" health insurer. Otherwise, if your travel insurer is "secondary", then your primary must pay first, and *then* the travel insurance will kick in. But having primary means you can "keep" your limited overseas regular quota, for possible/occasional times when you are overseas but not on a major holiday... and thus didn't get travel insurance.
We strongly recommend working with a travel insurance broker such as www.TripInsuranceStore.com (there are others; we found them through CruiseCritic, and have had a *lot* of help with the learning curve...) who can help with key questions about clauses that one might not think about until... it's too late, etc.
But call them; don't only rely upon online summaries of the various policies.

RM
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SpaethCo
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by SpaethCo » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:14 pm

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm
Travel credit cards are probably one of the best overall options out there, and they are often free (or you get paid for using them) when you account for sign-up rewards and cash back and/or miles earned.
You have to be really careful here. Citi was the last card with reasonable trip interruption coverage, and that’s going away.

Chase offers the best coverage if you can’t go on a trip, but it still has more exclusions than most stand alone travel insurance.

All the major cards won’t cover much of anything if things go wrong while you’re on your trip. This blog post is about Chase, but the exclusions apply to pretty much all the cards now: https://4wornpassports.com/beware-chase ... insurance/

hdcd
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by hdcd » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:14 pm

My daughter was in Switzerland this summer and became ill. Went to a doctor and the ER. We have Blue Cross PPO. We will be covered. However, even though the doctors spoke English, the bills are in German and a friend is translating them for us. The billing codes are different. Still getting things ready to submit. I’m not overly optimistic they will pay.

We had to get an earlier flight and pay the penalty. We are working with Chase since the card supposedly covers. Will see. They want info from the doctor post trip. Not sure how this will pan out.

Be prepared for the hassle and paperwork. It’s not as easy as it seems.

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MP123
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by MP123 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:24 pm

GmanJeff wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:49 pm
It is like other forms of insurance in that it covers what the contract specifies, and nothing else. If you want "cancel for any reason" coverage, you'll pay a lot more but will have very broad coverage. Be conscious of the dollar reimbursement limits for covered situations, especially when trying to compare different policies.
Most travel insurance is "named peril" rather than open peril like typical home owners and auto coverage.

In other words you're only covered for certain specific occurrences as described in the contract and nothing else. With other insurance you may be covered for everything except what the contract excludes.

It's an important distinction, so read the fine print.

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willthrill81
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by willthrill81 » Mon Aug 12, 2019 9:53 pm

Watty wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:35 pm
In some less developed countries, like some in central and south America, I have heard stories of people showing up at emergency rooms and being expected to prepay for care if they did not have acceptable insurance. I am not sure how widespread that really is.
Of course, the big advantage in many, perhaps most, of those places is that medical care costs a fraction of what it does in the U.S.
“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.” J.R.R. Tolkien,The Lord of the Rings

kaudrey
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by kaudrey » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:09 am

Also look at www.insuremytrip.com for quotes.

We are using Travel Guard for our trip next May to the Galapagos. It is only the second time I am insuring a trip, and we are doing it for two reasons: 1) cost of the trip; and 2) mom's health.

We have the "cancel for any reason" coverage. My mother went into a nursing home last month, and her health is not the best. We have no idea if/when her health will start declining rapidly, and I'd rather spend 10% of the trip cost than lose 100% of it if something happens to her right before the trip.

Just read the fine print carefully.

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dm200
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by dm200 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:30 am

willthrill81 wrote:
Mon Aug 12, 2019 4:40 pm
Travel credit cards are probably one of the best overall options out there, and they are often free (or you get paid for using them) when you account for sign-up rewards and cash back and/or miles earned.

Are you concerned about trip cancellation, health costs incurred while traveling, etc., or all of the above?
We purchased such insurance when we took cruises to Bermuda. Fortunately, we never had occasion to use it.

I have not done a detailed analysis, but I think this type of insurance is generally worth getting. To me, though, there are several aspects for the type of risk being insured for:

1. Trip cancellation - when you have some sort of personal situation/crisis where you are not able to travel. I could see "self insuring" for this because you know for 100% certainty the amount you risk or lose - the cost of the trip.

2. Medical costs while on the trip - I suppose, depending on where you are going, this might not be a huge cost/risk - some health insurance you already have may cover you. Perhaps, as well, medical costs in some areas may be lower than in the US

3. Medical "evacuation" costs. I regard this as the biggest financial risk - with, perhaps, no known upper limit on costs. Somewhere on the trip, you are injured or become ill - and the only safe way for you to get home is an expensive way - such as air ambulance. The medical care there might be just fine - but it may not make sense for you to stay there until you can travel "normally". We saw this on one of our Bermuda cruises. You cannot rent a car in Bermuda - but you can rent scooters or motor bikes. As folks stream off the cruise ships, lots of folks rent them. This is a high risk for several reasons: 1. Many such folks are not experienced with scooters or motor bikes; 2. You drive on the left there - and that can lead to problems; 3. The streets and roads in Bermuda are very narrow and often have a ditch on the side of the narrow road. On our first Bermuda cruise, on a small cruise ship with about 500 passengers, we saw two folks (may have been more?) injured in motor bike or scooter accident. One woman that normally sat near us at dinner was not there one evening. Then, the next evening, she was there - but in an arm cast, leg injury and on crutches. She was, though, able to continue on the cruise returning home. Another man, however, was so severely injured in a motor bike or scooter injury that he had to be flown back to the US (port of Baltimore). While, I am sure medical care in Bermuda is first rate, nonetheless he needed to get home to the US.

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dm200
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Re: Travel Insurance Caveats?

Post by dm200 » Tue Aug 13, 2019 9:58 am

I don't know how it is today, but about 45 or 50 years ago, I took a three week group trip to the former Soviet Union. One young woman on the trip was a Type One diabetic and, while in Moscow, she became ill (related to the diabetes, I think). She was quickly rushed off to a hospital there and, as best I understood, taken good care of. The Soviets, back then, were very proud of their medical care, etc. and wanted to make a good impression on us.

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