Travel insurance is a safety net that you can purchase to help you protect yourself in case of unexpected events that have a severe negative impact on your travel plans. It works quite similarly to other insurance policies in the following ways:

  1. You must purchase travel insurance before anything actually happens to disrupt your trip. (Think of this as buying homeowner’s insurance BEFORE the house is on fire.)
  2. You must read your chosen policy carefully before buying it, to make sure you really understand exactly what your insurance company will cover, and what they won’t.
  3. If there is a problem, and you do need to file a claim, you’ll have to provide documentation of your issue – just like you would have to produce police reports and evidence of damage to your car to file an auto claim.
  4. Travel insurance, like most other forms of insurance, works on a reimbursement structure. That means that you’ll have to pay your own costs up-front, then get reimbursed from the insurance company once they’ve approved your claim.

Travel insurance is available for a wide variety of concerns, from delays or cancellation of your trip to medical and evacuation services. Frequently, travelers who are looking for insurance end up buying comprehensive policies. The right comprehensive policy can provide coverage for a number of things and usually will include, at a minimum, benefits for trip cancellation and interruption; some baggage loss coverage; and some level of medical coverage.

Additional kinds of travel insurance are available both as part of your comprehensive policy, and as stand-alone benefits, depending on what your specific needs are. Some popular types to consider are Pre-Existing conditions waivers, Cancel for Any Reason coverage, and medical evacuation.