“Better safe than sorry!”
You’ve heard this phrase a million times before. And when talking about travel insurance, it couldn’t be more true.
When something goes wrong on vacation, it can feel like things couldn’t get any worse.
That is, until you check the fine print of your insurance policy and discover you aren’t covered for that missed flight, lost phone or several thousand dollar medical bill. Things just got worse!
Traveling the world doesn’t come cheap, and insurance is obviously an extra (annoying) cost. But whether you’re going on a weekend break, adventure holiday or year-long backpacking trip, it’s advisable to take out travel insurance.
Insurance generally covers lost or stolen valuables, medical care for injury and illness, holiday cancellations and flight delays. With insurance, if you have a holiday disaster, you aren’t left broke, as well.
It can be difficult to know which type of policy fits your travel needs. But don’t worry, we’ll walk you through the range of plan types for different kinds of trips.
What to consider before choosing your travel insurance plan
Flipping through a travel insurance policy can be as confusing as reading a foreign language.
How much coverage do you need? What kind of excess should you go for? What does all that even mean?
But while there are plenty of resources to help you decipher French or Spanish, who’s going to talk you through your insurance policy?
Well, the coverage amount refers to the maximum amount of money you can claim for each incident listed in your insurance plan. Make sure the amount is equal to or greater than the value of your holiday and valuables.
When a policy refers to excess, it’s talking about a fixed amount of money you’ll have to pay toward a claim, while the insurance covers the rest. For example, let’s say you lose an iPod worth $500, and the excess is $100. You’ll pay the first $100 yourself, and the insurance company will cover the remaining $400. (Provided you took out enough coverage!)
Now that we have the language covered, which type of policy do you need? Single- or multi-trip? Is basic coverage enough?
Think about the following questions to establish your priorities:
- How long is your trip?
- Where are you going? Some policies cover you in a specific country or continent, while others provide coverage across multiple international destinations.
- Who’s going? Is this a solo backpacking trip? Family vacation? You can find different policies tailored to your needs.
- What type of trip are you headed on? Simple vacations might just need a basic policy, but backpacking or extreme sports probably need a specialist plan.
- Will you have expensive electronics with you? Make sure the policy you choose covers the value of your gear.
- Will you take multiple trips this year? It could be worth taking out an annual policy.
Travel Safely! 10 Types of Travel Insurance for Different Trips
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1. Vacation: Single-trip insurance
Is your annual two-week vacation coming up? Single-trip insurance does what it sounds like… It covers only one trip. It’s ideal for one-time travelers because it’s cheaper than an annual multi-trip policy.
Single-trip insurance offers coverage for all the main travel issues you might encounter. You’ll typically be covered for theft of your possessions, flight and holiday cancellations, injury and illness.
Allianz Global offers a variety of single-trip policies.
2. Regular traveler: Annual multi-trip insurance
If you go on several trips each year, it’s worth taking out a yearly multi-trip plan. This will save you both money and hassle each time your next holiday or business trip comes around.
The amount of coverage will vary from provider to provider, but they should all cover you for medical issues, flight cancellations and delays, loss of baggage and thefts.
Allianz also offer quality annual multi-trip policies, and you can get a quote here.
3. Backpacking trip or gap year: Backpacker insurance
Country hopping? Working your way around Asia? Leading guided hikes in the Alps? The exciting life of a backpacker may require coverage for a wider variety of activities than your standard vacation.
Specialist coverage usually insures you for multiple destinations over an extended period of time. You can usually add ski coverage for an extra fee.
If you’re heading off on a gap year and don’t know where to start with insurance, check out our step-by-step guide for choosing the right gap year plan.
World Nomads offer great insurance options for backpackers and gap year travelers.
4. Skiers and hikers: Winter sports insurance
Going snowboarding in Switzerland? How about hiking in Peru? Sports—especially winter sports—tend to be higher risk, so you may need a specialist insurance policy to cover your ski season or winter sports weekend.
Along with providing standard vacation coverage, winter sports policies can insure you for on- and off-piste skiing and snowboarding. They can also cover lost or damaged sports equipment and offer money back for ski lessons, equipment rentals or lift passes should you sustain an injury.
Some insurers only provide mountain rescue up to a certain altitude, so trekkers, check how high you’ll be hiking.
Get a quote for winter sports insurance at InsureandGo.
5. Cross-continental trip: Worldwide insurance
Many travel insurance policies only provide coverage for travel to a specific continent or country.
Research worldwide insurance options if you’re planning to visit multiple countries. If you’re visiting multiple destinations across several continents, a global plan will cover you wherever you may roam.
Find worldwide plans at International Medical Group (IMG) Travel Insurance.
6. Family holiday: Family insurance
Accommodation, transportation, packing… Organizing a family holiday takes a lot of time and effort. And cash!
To make your trip a little easier and cheaper, you can take out one insurance policy for the whole family rather than purchasing each person’s individually.
This insurance usually covers the family for any standard problems you might face on a holiday, like cancellations, medical problems and loss of valuables or luggage. Activities like adventure parks or cruises are sometimes covered, but check with your insurer.
If you go on several family holidays a year, you should also consider an annual policy.
The Patriot Travel Medical Insurance plan from IMG provides international coverage for families.
7. Holiday when you have health issues: Pre-existing medical condition insurance
Unfortunately, if you have any long-term or pre-existing medical issues, standard travel insurance probably won’t cover you on vacation. But that shouldn’t stop you from going on your big trip!
First of all, you should declare any conditions to your insurer. Failure to do so could mean you aren’t covered for a related illness while away.
There are plenty of specific travel insurance plans for those with medical conditions. Make sure you get the comprehensive medical coverage you need.
Premium plans from Generali Global Assistance cover pre-existing medical conditions. You can purchase this insurance if you follow a few guidelines, so scroll down to the “Top Five Frequently Asked Questions” section to read about the plan before buying.
8. Retired travel: Senior insurance
Have you retired and want to make the most of your free time by seeing the world? It’s a great idea, but unfortunately, many companies have an age limit for people they’ll insure. They consider older citizens to be at higher risk for illness and injury.
Thankfully, there are also providers who offer specialist cover for travelers over age 65. Don’t let your age stop you from exploring!
Check out the senior plans from International Travel Insurance Group.
9. Bachelor or bachelorette party: Group insurance
If you’re heading off on holiday with your friends or to a bachelor/bachelorette getaway, you should consider insuring everyone under a group insurance policy.
These policies provide coverage for the same incidents single coverage policies do. However, let’s say everyone’s baggage goes missing. You won’t all be battling with individual policies. That makes taking care of any problem much more convenient!
Taking out a group policy can save everyone a little money and let you enjoy your trip with peace of mind.
Seven Corners offers quality group insurance plans.
10. Tentative trip: Cancel for any reason insurance
Cancel for any reason insurance (referred to in the industry as CFAR) will pay out should your holiday be canceled or you can’t go anymore due to unforeseen circumstances.
The coverage amount can vary. Make sure you choose a policy with coverage at equal value or higher than what you paid for the vacation. The reasons accepted for cancellations are usually out of your control, so double-check the fine print for which incidents are valid.
Elite plans from Travel Insurance Services offer CFAR insurance.
When you’re planning a trip, it’s never too early to start thinking about your insurance plan. It’s best to shop around to make sure you find a policy that suits your needs.
If you’re from the United States, compare different options and prices with sites such as InsureMyTrip and Insubuy.
If you’re from the United Kingdom, try comparison sites Compare the Market and MoneySuperMarket.
It won’t be long before you’ve found your perfect insurance match. Then you can stop worrying about potential horrible problems and focus on the fun details that will make your vacation the best it can be.
Hanna Greeman is a language lover and global traveler. After graduating in Spanish and Italian from the University of Bristol, she has lived in Colombia, Peru, Italy, Australia and Thailand, and traveled across four continents. When not working as a freelance writer, catch her salsa dancing, reading or seeing live music.