Whether you’re taking a short weekend trip over the border or planning an extended stay in another country, buying travel insurance is an essential part of booking your trip. But not all insurance coverage is equal and the process of choosing your coverage can be confusing.
Find out how to wade through the various policies available and choose exactly what is best for your situation.
#1: Coverage Is More Important Than Price
You will likely pay a premium for good quality coverage that meets your specific needs. It helps to compare rates and you might even ask your insurance company if they will match competitor’s rates, but always consider the coverage levels and compare policies on an even playing field. Be aware of the coverage that you need and shop for that specifically.
#2: Ask Questions
Make every effort to know exactly what is covered and what is not. If you don’t understand something or the coverage isn’t clear, ask specific questions and write down the answers. Ask for a written copy of the policy details before paying your premium, if possible. Insurance terminology may be intimidating at first, but with some knowledge you can understand the basics.
#3: Disclose Everything
This is just as important as asking questions. Make sure the insurance agent knows all of the details about your trip – where you’re going, when you’re going and what you will likely be doing when you get there. All of this information is useful and will help the agent put together the best travel insurance package for you. Be aware that any dangerous or risky activities that you may be involved in (such as scuba diving or bungee jumping) may nullify your policy. Also, any previous medical conditions will need to be disclosed and in certain cases, paperwork from your doctor’s office could be required.
#4: Investigate Online and On the Phone
Online insurance quotes are likely the fastest and easiest option to compare the coverage and prices available to you. There are even websites dedicated to insurance quote comparisons, allowing you to look at policies side by side before you make a decision. Be sure to place a few phone calls as well to discuss the options in detail with an agent. You can call or visit your bank for a quote on their coverage (most of the major banks offer travel insurance). Any organizations or groups that you belong to, (i.e. professional organizations, alumni groups, churches, clubs and even teams), may have access to group travel insurance, which will often bring the price down.
#5: Get Referrals From Seasoned Travelers
Ask snowbirds, business travelers and other people who are out of country regularly about their travel insurance. They will know which companies have the most comprehensive coverage, which have the smoothest claim policies and which offer the best price. With a personal recommendation and some idea of what to expect from a certain company, your decision about travel insurance may be easier.
#6: Extend Your Plan
Once you’ve found good quality coverage that fits your budget and traveling style, ask the agent about how you can hang onto it. Often the insurance company will allow you to extend the policy for a certain length of time (most often an annual renewal) or to cover more than one trip. This may save you money, but more importantly it saves you time shopping for a new policy when the next trip comes along. Be aware that an annual policy may only include trips under a certain length.
#7: Gather Information on Your Current Coverage
Go through your employee group benefits information, your banking agreements and any credit cardholder agreements you have. You may already have a certain amount of coverage that will only need to be supplemented. If you’re already paying for even a small amount of travel insurance, this step can save you plenty of money.
#8: Insure the Whole Family Together
A family will likely be travelling together and getting an inclusive insurance policy can be a good idea. Even if pooling your policies won’t cost less, having the same coverage and contacts will be convenient and create less paperwork.
#9: Take All of the Policy Information with You When Travelling
It’s important to have the necessary documents on you when travelling. There may be a toll free number you can call in the event of an emergency. In the case of a claim, the contact information is essential to have on hand.
#10: Play With the Deductible
If possible, find out whether changing the deductible will make any difference to the price. Often a higher deductible means a lower premium. Rather than cut back on coverage, raising the deductible gives you maximum peace of mind and minimum risk.
Each traveler has different needs and the Canadian travel insurance industry has a vast selection of policies to meet those needs. From the snowbirds to the traveling family of four and the backpacking student, there are countless Canadians who need to be well covered as they travel beyond our nation’s borders.
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