Q&A with a travel insurer: how travel insurance can protect you on your next trip

Family on the beach
Photo by Natalya Zaritskaya on Unsplash

As people prepare for summer vacations, they may have more questions than usual concerning their travel plans as we continue to emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Travellers are more concerned now with the safety and cleanliness of a travel destination, as opposed to the luxury or comfort. Additionally, all travellers are wondering how they can stay protected in the event of a travel emergency, like contracting COVID-19 prior to or during their vacation.

Jeremy Murchland, president of Seven Corners, a global travel insurance company, answers frequently asked questions around ways to stay protected, both medically and financially, before you embark on your summer journey and why travel insurance may be the best option to protect you and your travel companions.

Q: What is travel insurance?

A: I often describe it as insurance that protects you medically while you’re away and protects the financial investment you put into your trip. The medical coverage that travel insurance provides becomes especially important when you’re traveling internationally. The financial coverage will be important whether you’re opting for domestic or international travel in order to protect your trip expenses, like airfare or the cost of your hotel or cruise. These vacations we plan are important memories, and no one wants to lose out on the several thousands of dollars that they invested into creating these memories simply because they decided to skip purchasing travel insurance.

Q: How is travel insurance different from my health insurance?

A: It’s all in the name – travel insurance is insurance specifically for when you travel. Your health insurance will still cover you if you’re traveling domestically. If you travel to a different country, there’s a possibility you won’t have any coverage at all in your destination, or you could face high deductibles. Travel insurance covers you for those unforeseen events and protects you in the face of circumstances that your current domestic insurance doesn’t cover.

Q: Why do I need travel insurance?

A: At Seven Corners, we’ve had a high number of people who have had unfortunate accidents on their trip or before leaving. Travel insurance provides peace of mind and protection in order for you to fully enjoy your trip.

People spend a lot of money in order to take a vacation. In comparison, the cost of travel insurance is small. Travel insurance allows you to not have to worry about “what if” situations. It helps to have someone in your corner in the event of an emergency while you’re traveling in an unfamiliar place.

Q: My credit card offers some protection. Is that good enough?

A: Likely, not. The credit card protection that we see is very limited. There may be some amount of protection on your baggage or flight, but there are often no benefits from a medical perspective. We always recommend people look at the offerings of a standalone travel insurance company and compare that against what they’re currently covered for with their credit card in order to know the full scope of protection that could be possible.

Q: How does travel insurance actually work in terms of getting my money back?

A: Very much like any other insurance in that if you’re travelling and you have trip interruption, you would contact your travel insurer with your situation, and they’d instruct you on how to file a claim. Your claim then goes through a standard claims process. One of the key items we stress at Seven Corners is that we’re there for you before you have to file a claim. For example, if you’re traveling and you suddenly face an illness, accident or injury, we’ll give you a call right from the start of your emergency. We also provide translation services and can find a hospital for you if needed. This is very important for people traveling in an unfamiliar place where they don’t speak the native language and are unable to find the help they need.

Q: Do I need to purchase insurance for my entire family to travel? How young for children?

A: We recommend that everyone going on the trip should be covered by travel insurance. Generally, you buy primary insurance for yourself. Because your trip costs are spread across all travelers, it’s important in that regard to protect all trip costs. As far as an age limit, always check your policy to learn any specific limits, as this could differ by plan.

Q: If you are taking a trip within your home country, what type of travel insurance is the best option?

A: For us it would be our RoundTrip plans, or trip cancellation coverage as it’s commonly called. These plans reimburse you for your nonrefundable prepaid trip cost if you must cancel or interrupt your trip for a covered reason. Typical covered reasons include events like sickness or injury, inclement weather and hurricanes. The plans also have coverage for Trip Delay and Missed Tour Connection as well.

Q: If you are taking a trip in a foreign country, what type of travel insurance is the best option?

A: If you’re investing a lot of money in your trip, I’d suggest a comprehensive coverage plan that offers financial protections as well as medical coverage. If you’re not as concerned about what you spent on the trip, then purchasing travel medical insurance is your best option in case your health care coverage does not apply in the new country.

Q: Will travel insurance cover me if I contract COVID-19 prior to my trip and I have to cancel?

A: I’d encourage travellers to check their policy in that situation. Many policies have protection if you must cancel your trip because you are ill or must quarantine, but some policies have restrictions. Fortunately, many travel insurers have updated their policies because of these circumstances.

Q: Will travel insurance cover me if I contract COVID-19 while I’m travelling?

A: I’d again suggest people carefully review their policies in this case. Many plans do now offer coverage from a medical standpoint. For example, Seven Corners offers the following medical travel insurance covering COVID-19: Liaison Travel Plus, Liaison Student Plus and Wander Frequent Traveler Plus.  Additionally, if you’re travelling and COVID-19 interrupts your vacation, trip interruption coverage is also available. It’s important to ask these questions and speak with a travel insurance agent before purchasing your plan.

Q: Are there options to cancel my trip for any reason of my choosing?

A: Some plans have available Cancel for Any Reason, or CFAR, coverage. When you elect that coverage, it adds an additional cost to the protection plan itself because your plan now includes much wider coverage for your trip, as travelers are able to cancel for any reason of their choosing. Interruption for Any Reason, or IFAR, is also a newer option in the market. This gives travelers the option to interrupt their trip once it has already begun.

You should add CFAR to travel plans if you could potentially cancel your trip before you’ve departed, and CFAR typically requires you to cancel 48 hours or more before your scheduled departure date. IFAR comes into play after you’ve already departed on your trip but no sooner than 48 hours after departure. Both CFAR and IFAR reimburse you for 75% of your nonrefundable and insured trip costs if you cancel or interrupt for a reason not otherwise covered.

Q: What advice would you give to someone considering purchasing travel insurance for the first time?

A: First, do the research necessary to fully understand your benefits. And second, call and speak with a representative if you have any questions. Insurance is complicated, and we certainly don’t expect people to be experts on it.

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