Planning a trip to watch soccer in England or Europe is a lot of fun. What is less enjoyable is thinking about the expense if something unexpected happens that causes you to cancel or interrupt your trip. Groundhopper Guides gives you the information you need to choose the best travel insurance policy.
I am not a certified expert nor a licensed insurance broker. This post is intended to give you an overview of the most important things to consider when choosing which travel insurance policy is best for you.
Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning Groundhopper Guides may receive some compensation if you make a purchase after clicking one of these links. Our affiliate partners do not influence our editorial opinions or analysis.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance, also referred to as trip insurance, is an insurance product that covers specific situations and unforeseen losses incurred while travelling. Generally speaking, there are only two things you can insure: your trip cost, or to have medical coverage while traveling abroad. Your trip cost is insured in the event you cannot travel or if you have to suddenly return home. Medical coverage is for an illness or injury that occurs when you are away from home.
The definitions below are derived from the Allianz Travel Insurance website.
Standard Travel Insurance Policy Inclusions and Definitions:
- Emergency medical & dental expenses – Emergency medical and dental benefits cover losses due to covered medical and dental emergencies that occur during your trip. “Losses” refers to reasonable, medically necessary costs for medical or dental services, supplies and charges incurred for a covered health emergency.
- Emergency transportation – If a covered illness or injury occurs during your trip and your insurance provider determines that the local medical facilities are unable to provide appropriate medical treatment, emergency transportation benefits can pay for you to be transported to the nearest appropriate facility, and once your condition is stable, for your transportation home.
- Trip cancellation – Your trip is canceled before you get started for a covered reason. Travel insurance can reimburse your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses if you must cancel your trip due to a covered reason.
- Trip delay – Your trip is delayed for three hours or more consecutive hours for a covered reason. (The length of a covered delay varies by plan.) Travel insurance can reimburse the unused part of your prepaid expenses, minus any refund you receive. If a covered delay causes you to miss the departure of your cruise or tour, your travel delay benefits can pay reasonable transportation expenses to help you rejoin your cruise/tour or reach your destination. Also, if delayed for a covered reason, you may be reimbursed for reasonable, eligible expenses — up to the limit specified in the policy — for meals, accommodation and transportation.
- Trip interruption – Your trip is interrupted after you’ve left for a covered reason. Travel insurance can reimburse the unused portion of your prepaid expenses, excluding any refunds you receive. Trip interruption benefits also can reimburse you for additional accommodation and transportation expenses, up to the maximum limit specified in your plan, if the interruption causes you to stay at your destination (or the location of the interruption) longer than originally planned.
- Baggage delay & loss protection – Your baggage is delayed by a common carrier, hotel or tour operator for 12 hours or more. Travel insurance can reimburse you for reasonable essential items up to the specific policy’s limit until your baggage arrives. If your baggage is lost, damaged or stolen while you’re traveling, travel insurance can reimburse you for the actual price, actual cash value, repair or replacement — whichever is less, based on the limits in your insurance policy.
Standard Travel Insurance Policy Exclusions and Definitions:
- Any loss, condition, or event that was known, foreseeable, intended, or expected when your plan was purchased
- War or political unrest
- Pandemics / epidemics
- Normal pregnancy or childbirth
- Pre-existing medical condition – Most insurance companies define a pre-existing medical condition as an injury, illness, or medical condition that, within the 120 days prior to and including your plan purchase date: caused a person to seek medical examination, diagnosis, care, or treatment by a doctor; presented symptoms; or required a person to take medication prescribed by a doctor (unless the condition or symptoms are controlled by that prescription, and the prescription has not changed). The illness, injury, or medical condition does not need to be formally diagnosed in order to be considered a pre-existing medical condition.
- Traveling to a destination for which there is an active travel advisory or a foreseeable severe weather event when you book the trip
- High-risk activities like skydiving and mountaineering
- Illness or injury caused by the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs
- Theft of or damage to high-value items like jewelry or electronic equipment
Why You Should Insure Your International Trip
This is all about your risk tolerance as it relates to your financial situation. For U.S. residents, a week-long trip to England or Europe to watch football games can easily cost $2,500 per person. Of that amount, over $1,500 could be spent upfront to book airfare, accommodations, and tickets to the games; most or all of which may be nonrefundable. Depending on the policy you choose, travel insurance may cover 100% of those upfront expenses, in addition to providing medical coverage while you’re away from home. No one wants to think of the worst case scenario, but you should consider what it would cost to get emergency treatment in a foreign country or to get home quickly to a sick loved one. Think of it this way, you’re paying $$ to avoid losing $$$$.
The number one covered reason for Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption is the unforeseen illness or injury of you or a traveling companion that deems you unfit to travel, by order of a licensed physician; or the unforeseen hospitalization or death of a family member. Having trip cancellation and delay benefits will help minimize losses when plans are cancelled or changed at the last minute.
It is especially important that you prepare for the possibility of getting ill or injured, particularly if you are leaving your home country, as your medical insurance provider may not cover you in other countries. Check the coverage from your U.S. health insurance plan before you go to the UK or Europe. Senior travelers should note that Medicare will not cover health care when you’re abroad.
When You Should Buy Travel Insurance
You can purchase most policies up until the day before departure, however; you may not be eligible for some time sensitive benefits if you do not purchase within 10-21 days of the initial trip deposit/payment. Those benefits are, but not limited to: Pre-Existing Condition Waiver, Financial Default, Terrorism, Cancel For Any Reason and Cancel For Work Reasons.
Travel Insurance Providers
Insurance companies – There are dozens of well-known companies like Allianz, Travelex, and World Nomads that offer a wide variety of travel insurance plans. There are pros & cons to each of them, so I prefer to use a website like Insubuy or Insure My Trip to get quotes on a variety of policies from multiple providers and to more easily compare coverage and prices. It can be helpful to think of specific scenarios for which you’d want coverage, and then ask the broker to explain, in writing, each policy’s coverage as it would apply to those situations. Note that Insubuy also offers Schengen travel insurance, group travel insurance, and annual multi-trip insurance.
Credit cards – Most credit cards offer some form of travel protection when you use the card to pay for related expenses. Remember that just because you have the card doesn’t mean you have coverage; you have to use it to pay for your trip. Log into your credit card account and check the benefits section, or ask your credit card issuer to send you a PDF of the exact coverage terms. There are many nuances to these benefits, so it’s important to read the fine print.
Travel suppliers – Most airlines, hotels, and other travel suppliers now give you the option to add insurance during the checkout process. It may not seem like a lot of money compared to what you’re paying for your international airfare, but before you check the box to opt in, you owe it to yourself to download and read the policy to find out exactly what it covers.
Travel Insurance Policy FAQs
What are the typical costs for a travel insurance policy?
Pricing is based on age, state of residence, destination, total trip cost, and level of coverage so there is no one-size-fits-all answer here. For example, a 40-year-old NY-resident who is going on a one-week holiday groundhopping adventure in the UK can get a $75,000 travel medical policy with no deductible for only $15.80 through Insubuy. A comprehensive plan which includes trip cancellation and interruption runs from $51 to $135 depending on the level of coverage.
What about travel insurance and COVID-19?
Most insurance companies have revised their policies due to the current pandemic. It is critical to read the fine print of any travel insurance policy and to ask specific questions about coverage before purchasing.
Generally speaking, if your trip is cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions, flight cancellations, or travel warnings, this is not a covered reason for trip cancellation. You can add a benefit for “cancel for any reason” (see below) that isn’t listed in the policy. In order to be eligible for this benefit you must purchase within 10 to 21 days of your initial trip deposit date. It is best to check with your travel suppliers to see if they offer options to cancel or reschedule your travel arrangements without additional fees or penalties.
Important note: If you buy travel medical insurance, mandatory quarantine is not medical treatment, it’s medical isolation without any treatment and may well be excluded from coverage.
What is Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR)?
A cancel for any reason upgrade costs about 40% more than a standard travel insurance policy and it truly is just what it says; an add-on to a comprehensive policy that allows you to cancel your trip for any reason. A few important notes about CFAR: You must cancel before your trip starts (typically 2-3 days before scheduled departure); the reimbursement is usually a maximum 75% of the trip cost; and you must insure the entire nonrefundable cost of your trip. If you’re having second thoughts about a trip you’re planning and suspect you may need to cancel it, CFAR could provide some peace of mind.
Travel Insurance and Groundhopping
Here’s a scenario: I’m a U.S. resident who is planning a trip to the UK/Europe to see soccer games. I will purchase my airfare, lodging, and game tickets in advance. Each supplier has their own cancellation and refund policy, but generally all of my upfront expenses are nonrefundable. What would travel insurance cover?
Depending on the policy you purchase, the above expenses would only be covered if you never start the trip (due to a covered reason) or if, while you’re traveling, you must return home suddenly (due to a covered reason like a death or illness). If you are able to continue the trip, but are unable to travel to certain areas or do certain activities that you had prepaid, that would not be covered.
If you do not purchase your game tickets from Groundhopper Guides (read our refund policy here), you may want to consider purchasing a ticket refund protection policy from a company like Secure My Booking.
The most important things to remember when considering which travel insurance policy is right for you are to always read the fine print, ask detailed questions before purchasing, carry a copy of your policy and the provider’s emergency contact numbers with you at all times, and keep all documentation (reimbursement claims require documented proof e.g. doctor’s note, medical bills, police reports, etc.).
Read our Groundhopper Guide to Travel Hacking