How to Select a Travel Insurance Policy

by Kay Lynn

Travel Insurance for Adrian - Roland in Vancouver (048)
Planning a vacation entails more facets than picking the location, timeframe and travel arrangements.  You also have to decide whether to buy travel insurance.

If the decision is to get a policy for the trip, then comes the process of selecting a carrier and policy.

Existing Coverage

Before buying a policy find out what coverage you may have bundled elsewhere.  Your homeowner’s policy may cover stolen personal items and luggage.  The credit card provider may have protection against the travel provider failure to deliver services.

You also need to check your medical insurance policy.  My HMO won’t cover any care out of the country let alone an expensive medical evacuation. 

Once this process is complete then you know what must be bought to cover gaps in coverage.

Type of Travel Insurance

When planning a vacation the most likely policy you are looking for is a single trip plan.  However, if you travel frequently you should compare the cost to a multi-trip plan that is usually good for a year.

When traveling with a group, it may be less expensive to go together on a group insurance plan rather than each couple buying separate policies.


The three components that you’ll most likely want insured are medical, trip cancellation/delay and belongings.

Common coverage for medical includes emergency medical care, emergency dental care and medical evacuation.  Make sure it pays for the level of care you;ll want.  Is the evacuation to your home country or state or just to the nearest medical facility.

Many travel providers went out of business in the past few years whether it was a cruise line, airline or local travel agency.  Make sure your trip cancellation benefit covers these circumstances as well as terrorist attacks and disease outbreaks.

These are on top of more normal circumstances such as flight delays.

Select Carrier

Compare prices before buying the policy as they can vary greatly.  I strongly advise against buying the policy from the travel provider.  What good is it to buy insurance from the cruise line if they go out of business?

A good place to compare policies is at


Once you have this business out of the way, go back to thinking about the fun and adventure of your next trip.  Do you have other tips for selecting travel insurance?

photo credit: roland

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youngandthrifty November 8, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Great and useful post Bucksome! Travel insurance (like lost baggage and sometimes even trip cancellation) is covered on some credit cards (need to read the fine print).. and also my travel medical insurance is covered with the extended health benefits I get from work here.

Pays to do the research 🙂

Kay Lynn November 14, 2010 at 12:23 pm

That’s great that you have health benefits that cover travel. It’s the biggest unknown cost when traveling.

Jackie November 9, 2010 at 9:45 am

The only other tip I could add is to evaluate whether or not you really need trip insurance. I generally only get it on expensive trips that would cause me significant trouble if there were issues, or if I’m traveling to a hurricane-prone area during hurricane season. If you’re staying in the US, you may not need additional medical coverage, so it pays to check with your regular insurer to be sure. We do get dive insurance through DAN for dive trips, which is absolutely beneficial in terms of minimizing the risk of huge expenses due to dive accidents.

Kay Lynn November 14, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Jackie, I agree about evaluating if you need it. I wrote a post at Couple Money that talked about what to consider when deciding if you need travel insurance.

Good idea to check with organizations for specific coverages.

Sophie November 13, 2010 at 6:01 am

You know what Randall getting insurance is everyone’s desire and they are aware of the benefits derived from having such but too bad only few can afford it right now and just a lot the money into something more important. Insurance in general have been helping, small and big way, insured people and it is such a relief to have someone to back-up us on our needs.

Kay Lynn November 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm

Randall, I personally only had travel insurance on a tour to the UK and Ireland. For less expensive trips, I won’t get it.

Paul @ The Frugal Toad February 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

Have never purchased travel insurance however, if I was traveling to the caribbean during hurricane season I would probably purchase a policy.

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