At my age, the best type of “friend with benefits” is one that provides insurance benefits.

I’ve definitely seen travel insurance salvage a vacation and save a traveler’s pocketbook.  I counsel my clients that they should figure out two key things before they ask for a travel insurance quote.

  1. First, know your coverage.  Know whether or not your health insurance covers you when you’re traveling.  For example, Kaiser’s service area covers nine states. But, what if your nose goes numb in Nevada or you fall on your fanny in Florida?  So many people come to me and assume that they’re covered when they’re not.  Many employer-provided health insurers don’t provide coverage when you’re traveling outside the country.  Medicare doesn’t either. They typically cover “urgent and emergency care”.  But what if you need care after your condition has stabilized? What if you need a prescription, a follow-up x-ray or to have stitches removed?  What if you’re so injured that you need to be transported back home under doctor’s care? You can buy a travel insurance policy that just provides medical coverage and emergency medical transportation coverage. A smart thing to add to any vacation where you’re outside your health provider’s coverage area. And, it’s not expensive.
  2. Second, insure yourself for the right amount. As part of the quote process, the provider is going to ask you “what is the per person cost of the trip?” Don’t include every trip item in that cost estimate.  Rather, only cover what would be a true loss.   For example, don’t include the full flight cost IF your flight rules allow you to pay a $250 change fee and use the flight value later. And, don’t include all of your hotel nights if you can cancel some without fear of penalty.   What I’m saying here is, when things go sideways on a trip, you’re typically not experiencing a total financial loss.  Rather, it’s a partial loss — portions of it are not refundable.  Those are the potential losses that you should be covering.  That’s the math equation you should be using to determine a “trip cost” amount that you’d like covered.

AAA works with Allianz Global Assistance and I’d be happy to provide you with a travel insurance quote. It can be done over the phone in about 15 minutes.

I thought this was a good article on the topic in Budget Travel.