What Is Travel Insurance, and What Does It Cover?
Travel insurance is an insurance product for covering unforeseen losses incurred while travelling, either internationally or domestically. Basic policies generally only cover emergency medical expenses while overseas, while comprehensive policies typically include coverage for trip cancellation, lost luggage, flight delays, public liability, and other expenses.
Certain countries require foreign visitors have proof of sufficient travel insurance as a condition for granting a visa or of approving visa-free entry. This includes travellers applying for a Schengen Area or UAE visa, and all visitors to Cuba, Turkey and Belarus. Thailand and Egypt have announced plans to introduce similar requirements. Tour companies and cruise providers may also require passengers possess a minimum level of travel insurance before the traveller can commence their journey.
For a minor injury or illness abroad, medical benefits include coverage for GP visits, medicines, ambulance fees, and limited dental services. In the event of hospitalization, most travel insurance policies include emergency services that can guarantee payment to hospitals for treatment, maintain contact with attending physicians, and arrange transfers between hospitals or medical evacuation back to the insured's country of origin. More comprehensive policies include emergency coverage so that a family member can stay with the insured person during the hospital stay.
In the event of death abroad, sections of health insurance usually include coverage for the repatriation of the remains to the insured person's country of origin or burial abroad.
Comprehensive travel insurance policies include coverage for any cancellation fees or lost deposits associated with the cancellation of an insured person's trip due to a number of unforeseen and unexpected circumstances. These include illness or injury, natural disasters and bad weather, strikes and riots, thefts and family emergencies. Depending on policy, this may also include cancellation due to jury service, dismissal from a full-time job, cancellation of annual leave for those serving in the military or emergency services, and a ban or recommendation against travel by the government to a specific destination. .
Alternative travel and travel expenses
Many policies include benefits for alternative transportation, accommodation and meals if the transportation provider is delayed for a certain period, provided that any delay meets the criteria specified in the policy. The policy may also include an exemption for the purchase of basic necessities such as clothing and toiletries in the event that baggage is delayed by the airline.
Baggage benefits cover the loss, damage or theft of personal items while traveling, including passports and other travel documents. It may also include limited benefits for stealing cash.
This covers legal liability as a result of a claim brought against a covered party for personal injury or property damage to others.
In addition to their base policies, many providers offer coverage for declared pre-existing conditions (e.g. asthma, diabetes, cancer), higher risk sports and activities (e.g. skiing, trekking at high altitudes, scuba diving), rental car damage, and cruising.
Insurance companies issuing will often exclude coverage for ongoing known events to new policies, and may announce long-term exclusions for specific events, such as volcanic activity from a currently active volcano. As travel insurance is a risk-based product, many policies will exclude events which may be of a far-reaching and poorly quantified risk, such as pandemics and endemics, acts of war, and terrorism. Some policies exclude travel to certain countries, or parts of countries, where a greater risk is expected. These determinations are often made based on official government travel advice from organisations such as the US State Department or the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.
Other common exclusions in travel insurance policies include: