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Travel Insurance and Emergency Assistance: How to Protect Yourself

by Brook Wilkinson | February 18, 2024

If you don’t start thinking about travel insurance until you need it, chances are it’s already too late. For example, did you know that many benefits only kick in if you purchase your plan soon after paying the first deposit for a trip?

For our WOW Week 2024 Travel Talk on February 8, we brought in experts to discuss how to prepare for travel curveballs, from surprise injuries to natural disasters to political unrest, and how to minimize your risk, both financial and medical. Joining us were Stan Sandberg, co-founder of travel-insurance comparison site TravelInsurance.com, and Sheri Howell, from air-medical-transport and crisis-response provider Medjet. Check out all we learned from Stan and Sheri in the video below.

4 top takeaways

Some plans are more generous than others about covering pre-existing medical conditions. Most insurance policies will not cover pre-existing conditions unless you purchase them within a week or two of your first trip payment. However, a few plans have now extended this window to up to 24 hours after your final trip payment. You can filter for such policies when you do a search on travelinsurance.com.

Annual travel-insurance policies are on the rise. Historically these policies have only covered medical expenses, but some now also provide trip cancellation and interruption protection. Those benefits typically only cover $5,000 or so; if your nonrefundable trip costs are higher than that, you’ll get more complete coverage by purchasing individual policies for each trip.

Tread carefully on the gangways. River cruises are a surprisingly common source of travel accidents. Sheri explained that the vessels’ gangways are smaller and less sturdy than on ocean-going ships; the wake from a passing boat has been known to sweep travelers off their feet—and straight into the hospital.

A Medjet membership protects kids studying abroad. Family memberships cover two adults, plus up to five children until age 19, or until age 23 if they are full-time students. Members are  covered anytime they are at least 150 miles away from home, even when not traveling together.

Links to Useful Resources

How to Buy Travel Insurance: What It Covers, When You Need It

What Medical Evacuation Coverage Do You Need?

“Cancel For Any Reason” CFAR Travel Insurance: What It Is and How It Works

 

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