Planning A Vacation? Here’s Your 2024 Summer Travel Insurance Guide

Planning A Vacation? Here’s Your 2024 Summer Travel Insurance Guide
Planning A Vacation? Here’s Your 2024 Summer Travel Insurance Guide

Planning a vacation this summer? Yeah, you and just about everyone else.

More than 9 out of 10 Americans say they’ll travel more this year, according to a recent Nationwide Travel Insurance survey. Most of those trips will happen in June, July and August.

Not just that, but 40 percent of the respondents say they’ll spend more this year than last year. So how do you protect your vacation investment?

Travel insurance is the standard answer, but what kind of insurance — and how do you find it? That’s the question many Americans are wrestling with as they make their travel plans.

Protecting your vacation is a serious concern this summer, experts say.

“Travelers are beefing up their trip protection with security advisory and extraction protection,” notes Dan Richards, CEO of The Global Rescue Companies.

It’s not just that they’re spending more. It’s that there’s more to lose. The ongoing war in Ukraine, the Hamas attacks on Israel, and other violent conflicts have made travel insurance a key part of trip planning.

It’s going to be a busy summer for travel

Overall policy sales for the 2024 summer travel season are up this year, but there’s a spike in sales for policies in August, which is typically the busiest time of the summer. “Sales are up more than 25% over last year,” says Stan Sandberg, co-founder of travel insurance site TravelInsurance.com.

Western Europe continues to be the most popular summer destination for Americans, with some notable hotspots. Travel insurance sales for Greece are up over 60% this year compared with 2023, followed by Norway and Portugal, which are up 57% and 52%, respectively, according to Sandberg.

What should you insure when you travel this summer?

Laura Heidt, the insurance desk manager for Brownell Travel in Birmingham, Ala., says there are some things every travel insurance policy should cover this summer.

“I always recommend people insure for the unexpected, such as flight delays, missed connections and medical coverage while out of the country,” she says. “If you are willing to forgo the cancellation and delay coverages, which are typically the most expensive parts of a policy, you should still, absolutely, cover yourself with at least the medical component.”

Heidt says she’s seen a 10% boost in travel insurance sales for this summer compared with the same time last year, and many people are opting for the pricier “cancel for any reason” policies, which allow you to cancel your trip and receive a partial refund of your prepaid, nonrefundable travel expenses.

Travel insurance companies are seeing a similar trend.

“A majority of travelers choose a comprehensive travel insurance plan which includes coverage for trip cancellation, emergency medical, lost or delayed baggage and delay,” explains Tim Dodge, vice president of marketing at Arch RoamRight.

He says this year, travelers are purchasing travel insurance on average within 11 days of their trip deposit to receive the additional benefit of the waiver exclusion for pre-existing conditions.

Get a policy that’s tailored to your needs

Travel insurance comes in all shapes and sizes. So you’ll want to try a few on for size before you buy. You can actually do that, since most policies have a “free look” period that makes them fully refundable for the first week or two (depending on the policy).

“It’s important to consider your specific travel plans and any potential disruptions in order to protect your investment,” says Robert Gallagher, president of the US Travel Insurance Association (USTIA).

He says traditional plans offer coverage for unexpected cancellations, interruptions, delays, emergency medical expenses and lost or delayed baggage. For international travel, USTIA advises opting for a plan with emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage.

It also depends on who you’re traveling with. For example, if you’re traveling with your children, you’ll want to consider a family-friendly priced travel insurance plan. But your destination also matters, says Carol Mueller, vice president at Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (BHTP).

“For young families, I typically recommend the ExactCare plan due to its pricing of two children at no additional cost for every one adult on the policy,” she says. “However, for families venturing abroad, I’d suggest considering a plan like BHTP’s LuxuryCare, which is designed to meet the distinctive needs of a high-investment vacation.”

You have choices when it comes to family coverage. For example, Allianz’s OneTrip Prime plan also includes coverage for kids 17 and younger when traveling with a parent or grandparent.

Look beyond travel insurance for extra protection

Mike Hallman, CEO of the air medical transport and travel security program Medjet, says MedjetHorizon memberships are selling briskly. They offer 24/7 security and crisis response, as well as transportation to a hospital at home if you’re injured. Travelers are skittish even if they aren’t going bungee-jumping.

“With geopolitical tensions still growing — all the riots in France, Italy, Ecuador and other tourist destinations over the last year — and crime causing the threat level to be raised for the Bahamas and Jamaica, it’s no wonder,” he adds.

He makes a good point. Travel insurance can cover many of the events you’re likely to encounter, such as a missed connection, lost luggage or a medical emergency. But it’s also important to know what isn’t covered — and to make plans accordingly.

Beware of travel insurance “overconfidence”

The summer travel season is still a few months away, but insurance experts are worried. Yes, they’ve seen a general uptick in insurance sales, but some travelers remain unprotected.

“We’ve started to see early signs that travelers are exercising less caution and are slightly less likely to sign up for travel insurance,” says Joe Cronin, CEO of International Citizens Insurance.

By comparison, travelers purchased plenty of medical insurance in 2020 and 2021 because of the pandemic. Cronin believes travelers were terrified of getting stuck with COVID-19 in a foreign country without insurance.

“To those who are thinking about traveling internationally without travel insurance, my recommendation is to spend a few minutes looking deeper before deciding,” he adds.

Some types of insurance, such as a standalone medical policy, cost just a few dollars a day. A medical evacuation membership is also affordable. And even full-featured travel insurance policies can be cost-effective when you consider the benefits.

“Don’t put your summer travel memories, or your investment, at risk by forgoing the right vacation coverage,” says Daniel Durazo, director of communications at Allianz Partners USA. “With international travel peaking during the summer season, an unprotected trip can leave travelers on the hook for costs resulting from an unexpected trip delay or medical emergency abroad.”

Bottom line: Seriously consider travel insurance to protect your trip — and don’t be overconfident. You never know what might happen this summer.

Source: forbes.com

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