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    Travel Insurance: Insuring Yourself For An Uncertain World By Andrea Schubiner

    By Andrea Schubiner, Founder of Wanderful Journeys


    The only certain thing in travel these days is to expect uncertainty – so when booking your next trip, it is more important than ever to ensure you are properly protecting yourself and your trip investment.


    Luckily there are many different types of trip protection these days, but the plethora of options can admittedly become overwhelming.  While your choice in trip insurance will depend on the type of trip you are going on- and your personal risk tolerance – there is likely a product (or two!) out there to best match your needs. 


    Below is a big picture overview as to the different types of coverage you can utilize, so you can travel confidently on your next trip.


    “Classic” Travel Insurance   


    The primary goal of “Classic” travel insurance is to protect your non-refundable trip costs from any UNFORSEEN event that happens. We all want and plan to go on our vacations, but sometimes life has other ideas.


    In the case of covered reasons- such as unexpected illness, death in the family, medical emergency, inability to travel due to work, terrorist event, etc.,- classic travel insurance can reimburse the costs in the event you must cancel or interrupt your trip. 


    Real World Examples:


    • Three weeks before my parents were scheduled to go on a non-refundable special 10-day Bordeaux Wine Trip, my mom was diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer. 100% of their trip was refunded within days, and she didn’t need to worry about the financial burden while prepping for her surgery and treatment. 


    • Planning a last-minute honeymoon, clients did not feel the need for insurance because “of course they were going!” Ten days before departing on their big trip, the husband was let go from his job and the 5-star (non-refundable) hotels they had paid for were no longer in their budget. If they had purchased classic travel insurance, they would have been able to cancel their trip due to change of employment status. 


    Classic travel insurance will also provide cost protection from unexpected events that may affect your trip, such as inclement weather or natural disasters, passport or visa theft, missed connections, lost luggage, flight cancellations, accidents abroad, labor strikes, supplier default, etc.


    Real World Examples:


    • Clients traveling to Croatia switched planes in Paris, and while they made it to Croatia safely, the husband’s bag did not. Travel insurance covered the cost of his new toiletries and change of clothes until his bag arrived three days later.


    • When an 8-hour layover in Chicago still was not enough time for clients to make their connecting flight to Europe due to airline delays, insurance was able to cover the new hotel for the night, refund for missed tours, transfers, and hotels, and help get them back on track for their itinerary the rest of the trip. 



    Furthermore, if you are traveling abroad, most health insurance plans do NOT provide coverage internationally, so purchasing travel insurance is essential to make sure you receive primary health care coverage abroad in the off-chance you need medical or dental attention on your trip.  


    Real World Examples:


    • Shopping around the Marais district in Paris, a client tripped on the cobblestone streets and broke her ankle. Insurance covered the doctors’ bills and new first-class tickets home so she could keep her leg elevated, and refunded the rest of her missed trip costs. 


    • In Big Sky, a healthy client experienced altitude sickness and was able to leverage travel insurance to refund his out-of-network Emergency Care costs and get reimbursed for the non-refundable dog-sledding tour that he missed. 



    What plans to purchase? Travelex (Select Plan), Arch RoamRight (Pro Plus Plan), and Travel Guard (Preferred Plan) are all great options, and all offer very similar coverage, depending on your age, employment status, and trip considerations (such as possible pregnancy, traveling during hurricane season, etc.). Some plans may offer slightly better coverage or pricing than others.


    Important notes before purchasing: Depending on the policy, some key benefits such as pre-existing medical condition waiver, supplier default coverage, and cancel for work reasons are only available if the plan is purchased within 14-21 days from your first trip deposit – so best to purchase as soon as you book your first trip component. 


    Cancel For Any Reason Insurance (CFAR)


    “Classic” travel insurance will only reimburse you for a coverable reason– but in today’s world of uncertainty, this does not include country closures, government restrictions, or fear of travel due to coronavirus outbreaks (or any other reason).


    For instance, if a physician advises you that you shouldn’t travel due to the Delta variant or the US State Department raised a country to a Level 4: Do Not Travel Advisory  – those are not eligible reasons for cancellation under normal policies. 

    Therefore, some people prefer to have the flexibility to cancel their trip for ANY reason– whether it be fear of travel or just changing your mind! This is where CFAR comes in. 

    If you end up having a coverable reason to cancel your trip, you will receive the same benefits as classic travel insurance with 100% trip reimbursement.  However, if you decide to cancel for a non-coverable reason, you will be eligible to receive a percentage of your trip cost back – no matter what.


    Important notes before purchasing: Read your policy carefully, as trip cancelation often must occur at least 48 hours before departure to be eligible for a refund, and refunds are usually between 50-75% of trip costs. CFAR must also be purchased usually between 14-21 from the date of the first trip deposit, and include the ENTIRE trip cost in coverage. 



    Medivac Insurance

    While Classic and CFAR Travel Insurance are great to get you medical coverage IN country, they fall short of providing you with coverage if you need to be medically transferred to a hospital of your choice back in the US (or abroad).  


    Most insurances promise to get you to the “nearest acceptable facility” for treatment, but if you are hospitalized more than 150 miles from home, medical evacuation plans like Medjet Assist promise to get you to the hospital of your choice – regardless of medical necessity. 


    Memberships are available short-term for specific trip lengths, or annually – which is an excellent investment for ‘snowbirds’ or those who travel at least 2-3 times a year.  


    COVID Insurance


    While medical evacuation services are essential for hospital transport coverage, the limitation with the plans is that you can only be medivaced if you are hospitalized – as the flights can only go hospital to hospital.  



    This was never a big issue before, but in a COVID world where you can test positive but not require hospitalization, medivac insurance no longer provides the comfort some travelers need. 



    Since all travelers returning to the US via plane must take a COVID test before boarding their return flight, many travelers don’t want to risk testing positive and being stuck abroad for 10 or more days in quarantine – so new COVID insurance has emerged.  


    Covac Global guarantees if you test positive with COVID they will repatriate you and get you home the same day. So you can now travel abroad without worrying about the extra expenses of being stuck in a country for 10-14 days. 


    Credit Card Coverage

    “But my credit card offers insurance coverage” – is a common response people say when looking to not purchase travel insurance. It is true that some premium cards do offer some sort of travel insurance benefits, but it is always advisable to fully read through the terms and conditions of each policy to make sure you are properly protected for your trip. For instance, many cards do offer pre-trip cancellation coverage, but almost none offer trip interruption coverage if you are already ON the trip. 


    In Summary

    Even before our current COVID uncertainty, there have always been so many factors in the travel process that are simply beyond our control.  Travel insurance is meant to help you travel with peace of mind and protect your valuable travel investment. 

    While the above overviews are meant to help you understand the types of coverage available, please remember you always have access to networks of travel and insurance professionals to help you navigate through your specific travel insurance options.  


    Andrea Schubiner is the Founder of Wanderful Journeys, a boutique travel advisory service that specializes in designing unique itineraries filled with enriching, off-the-beaten-path experiences, coupled with luxury service. Wanderful Journeys was founded as a vehicle to share Andrea’s love of traveling with others. A true citizen of the world, Andrea has journeyed across 95 countries and has visited over 250 cities on 6 continents. A native Detroiter, Andrea has been fortunate to also call New York, Chicago, Johannesburg, and London ‘home’ over the years. After receiving a BBA from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Andrea has turned her experience as a marketing professional and as a management consultant at Bain & Company, into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Her passion for adventure and severe wanderlust has molded her into an expert on all things travel.