You spent months planning the ultimate family vacation. Then, the unexpected happens. Your whole family comes down with a mystery virus 24 hours before you’re supposed to hit the road. Instead of feasting on Dole Whips at Disney, your family is slurping chicken broth and Gatorade at home.
All that time and money spent on vacation, wasted!
Or is it?
If you purchased travel insurance, you may be able to recoup some or all of your lost vacation costs.
How Travel Insurance Works
Travel insurance is exactly what it sounds like: financial protection in the event that you are unable to complete your trip. If you’ve booked a vacation through a travel company, they may offer different trip protection packages as an optional add-on.
If they don’t, you can purchase individual travel insurance policies through most financial institutions, even USAA.
What Is Covered
Military families know the unexpected can happen and frequently does. If you’ve paid for a vacation in full and are unable to go due to work or a medical emergency, travel insurance can help you get that money back.
Coverage can also include reimbursement for lost or delayed luggage. If you’re traveling abroad and get sick, some policies even offer overseas medical coverage.
What’s Not Covered
Of course, travel insurance is not without caveats. Most policies require 30 days notice of your vacation cancellation to start a claim. Also, most insurance policies do not cover cancellations due to extreme weather, like hurricanes, that prevent you from getting to your destination. For example, if you live in Miami and a hurricane has grounded your flight, your vacation in Maine may not be covered, since the hurricane didn’t affect that state.
Is Travel Insurance Worth It?
Savvy military spouses know how to budget every penny. And since travel insurance isn’t cheap, it’s hard to know if it is worth the cost.
I was in the travel industry for more than 5 years and I worked with a lot of military families in that time. I always recommended going with a “Cancel for Any Reason” policy.
While slightly pricier, this type of policy is worth the cost. As its name suggests, it’s more flexible when you have to cancel a trip last minute.
Most cancellations for military families fall under ‘Work Conflict,’ which covers revoked leave, permanent change of station or being called into service for disaster or conflict.
What Should I Ask My Travel Insurance Provider
Now that you know the travel insurance basics, ask these questions before purchasing a policy. You’ll know exactly what you’re getting, in the event that you’re unable to travel.
When does coverage begin and end?
You’ll want to know exactly what the coverage dates are. For some policies, the coverage begins the moment you get in your car or on the plane. For others, coverage doesn’t begin until you reach your vacation destination. Knowing exactly what your coverage dates are can save you a lot of headache if you have to file a claim.
What costs are paid up front, and what will I be reimbursed for?
When you start a trip insurance claim, the policy may require you to cover costs for things like lost luggage or medical costs up front, and reimburse you later. If you’re on a tight budget, this could pose a problem, so be sure to know what costs you will incur before signing up for a policy.
Ask About Pre-Existing Medical Condition Clauses
If you do have a pre-existing medical condition, make sure to ask about that before signing up for a policy. Unless there is a waver or a clause written into your contract, canceling a trip due to a pre-existing condition may not be covered under some travel insurance policies.
Put It in Writing
Just like any other paperwork, there is a lot of fine print on a travel insurance policy. If anything seems unclear, ask to see where it is written specifically in the contract. While your agent may be very knowledgeable, it is always a good idea to get things in writing. You never know when you may need to refer back to the fine print.
We’re about to enter the holiday travel season. Whether you plan to spend the holidays at Grandma’s house or on the beach in Mexico, travel insurance can be a lifesaver in the event you’re unable to go.