August 29, 2014
This is a somewhat comprehensive “primer” for those looking to travel with their mountain bike. It is not a “be all and end all” summation of travel insurance information, but is rather meant to answer some of the who, what, where, when, and how’s that can come up when pondering over your next adventure. It’s taken from the 2nd Edition of our Ultimate Guide to Mountain Bike Travel– a great resource for all things adventure-travel related. Check it out here: http://www.sacredrides.com/mountain-bike-travel-guide
What Kind of Insurance Do I need?
(Adapted from www.travelinsurancereview.net)
Travel insurance is, on the surface, a pretty simple thing: go to a travel insurance website, plug in your details, review the quote and then purchase. Or talk to a travel agent and get them to create a package for you. But like house insurance, life insurance, or car insurance, there’s a lot to consider when you really get into it, and you may end up finding out the hard way that you really should have done your homework before buying.
What coverage do you need as an adventure traveller?
While the following is not an exhaustive list of all the coverages available with travel insurance plans, it describes those that are most useful to adventure travelers.
Evacuation and repatriation coverage provides the coördination and funds necessary to arrange for a medically necessary evacuation or to return your body home for burial. (Review the details of evacuation and repatriation coverage.)
Medical coverage provides advance payments or reimbursement for medical and dental care received on your trip – even in a foreign country. (Review the details of medical coverage.)
Financial default coverage provides reimbursement for your pre-paid non refundable trip costs when a travel supplier ceases operations. (Review the details of financial default coverage.)
Trip cancellation coverage provides reimbursement of your pre-paid non refundable trip costs when the trip has to be cancelled for a covered reason. (Review the details of trip cancellation coverage.)
Accidental Death and Dismemberment coverage provides a lump sum payment to you or to your family if you are disabled or die on your adventure trip. (Review the details of AD&D coverage.)
Travel delay coverage provides a per-day amount for unexpected lodging, meals and transportation when your travel is delayed a certain number of hours for a covered reason. (Review the details of travel delay coverage.)
Who should buy travel insurance?
You should purchase adventure travel insurance if you are:
A traveler on organized adventure tours – in many cases, tour operators will require proof of travel insurance at the start of the trip and they’ll expel you without it.
An individual and experienced adventure traveler – no matter how experienced you are at your preferred activity, accidents and illnesses can happen anywhere and without travel insurance coverage for adventure activities, none of the coverages will be available to you on your trip.
A newbie on a learning adventure – even if you’ve joined a trip so you can learn a new skill, it’s important to have the right coverage for the activity. Without it, all your coverage will be invalidated.
When should you buy your travel insurance?
Purchase your policy just after making your first trip payment. In some situations, this timing is important because of some benefits, such as:
- pre-existing medical condition waivers,
- ‘cancel for any reason’, and
- ‘cancel for work reasons’
are only applicable if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days (usually 10–15) from making your initial trip deposit. Plus, you’ll benefit from the longest period of cancellation coverage.
Remember that most travel insurance companies offer a free look period with a refund if you decide the plan is not what you need.
The 2 Most Popular Types of Travel Insurance
The two basic types of travel insurance are:
1. Vacation Plans (provides the most coverage, including trip cancellation)
This type of plan provides the most coverage in a single package, including cancellations, medical emergencies, evacuations, loss or delays, luggage, assistance, and more. Vacation plans are very popular with travelers because they provide a simple solution to their needs. Vacation plans include coverage for:
- Cancelled trips
- Interrupted trips
- Medical emergencies
- Emergency evacuation
- Delayed baggage or trips
- Lost baggage
- 24⁄7 Assistance
- and several other coverages
If you are looking for ‘travel insurance’ for your next vacation, you need a vacation plan.
2. Travel Medical Plans (Medical coverage while traveling abroad)
Travel medical plans are for travelers leaving their home country who are not concerned with cancellation or other factors – they just want coverage in case they get sick or hurt while abroad, and don’t want to be hit with a massive hospital bill.
This type of plan focuses on medical emergencies, evacuation, and sometimes life insurance. A travel medical insurance plan is perfect if you are traveling outside your home country and are not concerned with cancellation, interruption, delays, and baggage.
Travel medical plans focus on coverage for:
- Medical expenses
- Emergency evacuations
Some types of travel medical plans provide benefits such as medical coverage for pre-existing conditions, multi-trip and renewable protection, emergency medical evacuation, and coverage for long-term travel abroad.
Specialty plans (evacuation-only, travel accident, rental car)
Beyond the two basic types, there are specialized plans to meet unique needs.
Evacuation plans focus on emergency evacuations, and are often sold on an annual basis as a membership. With an evacuation plan, the company arranges transport, and you won’t lose your savings to a costly emergency medical evacuation
Accident plans provide life insurance style coverage for travelers It pays benefits if you should have a serious injury that results in dismemberment or loss of life. Benefits paid by these accident plans are in addition to any benefits paid by separate life insurance plans.
How To Select A Plan Based On Your Needs
Each travel insurance company has a variety of plans to choose from. These plans will each have varying coverage, which makes some plans more affordable and other plans higher priced.
When you start comparing plans, you will need some criteria to help you prioritize and narrow down your choices. Use a list of coverages that you think are the most important for your trip. You might also factor in minimum coverage amounts on certain coverages like medical expenses.
The following is not a complete list of coverage, but simply a prioritized list of the most important coverages for their trip:
Most Popular Coverage Criteria
- Emergency Medical (at least $50,000)
- Medical Evacuation (at least $100,000)
- Pre-existing Medical Conditions
- Cancel For Any Reason
- Hazardous Sports
- Hurricanes & Weather
- Employment Layoffs
- Missed Connections
- Rental Car Coverage
- Primary Medical
- Emergency Medical
- Pre-existing Medical
- Medical Deductible
- Medical Evacuation
- Non-Medical Evacuation
Loss or Delays
- Travel Delay
- Baggage Delay
- Baggage Loss
- Missed Connections
- Trip Interruption
- Hurricane & Weather
- Financial Default
- Employment Layoff
- Cancel For Work Reasons
- Cancel For Any Reason
- Accidental Death
- Air Flight Accident
- Common Carrier
- Hazardous Sports
- Rental Car
- Money Back Guarantee
- 24 Hour Assistance Service
- Identity Theft
- Renewable Policy
- All Events Upgrade
Five “Loopholes” and How to Avoid Them
An insurance policy is a legal contract. The coverage, exclusions, and ‘small print’ of the insurance plan are available to read in something called the Policy Certificate.
Many travelers buy insurance and assume ‘everything’ is covered, but as with all insurance plans that’s not the case. Travelers get frustrated if a claim is delayed or denied, and assume that they have been cheated because of a ‘loophole’. These frustrations could be avoided by understanding the policy, knowing what is covered, and what is not covered.
Here are the most common ‘loopholes’, and how to avoid them:
1. Not a Covered Reason for Cancellation: Read and understand the list of covered reasons in the policy, and if in doubt select the optional “Cancel for any reason” rider or a plan that includes that coverage.
2. Pre-Existing Conditions: Only buy a plan that offers a waiver to the pre-existing condition exclusion, and make sure you meet the requirements for it to apply.
3. Coverage Exclusions: Read and understand the list if exclusions in the policy certificate
4. Incomplete Documentation: Contact the insurance company as soon as you have any issue, and start saving all receipts and documentation
5. Enrolling Too Late: Get your travel insurance as soon as you make a trip payment.
Top 9 Travel Insurance FAQs
1. Doesn’t my credit card have travel insurance?
No, not in the way most travelers want it to.Credit cards that have ‘travel insurance’ provide little coverage, but nothing in comparison to a separate policy from a travel insurance company.
Some cards provide cancellation coverage, but with an annual limit ($1,500-$2,500 per 12 month period), and the list of covered reasons is limited. Interruption coverage is limited as well, as is travel delay coverage. Most importantly though, is that almost no credit cards provide medical expense or evacuation coverage.
2. Won’t my regular health insurance cover me abroad?
Not completely. Most regular health insurance plans provide partial or no coverage while you are traveling in another country. For Medicare, there is never coverage abroad.
Countries with ‘universal health care’ might assist with minor needs, but they are under no obligation to do so. In the event of major or ongoing medical expenses, they would cease to help, and they would never pay to evacuate you or help you return home.
3. Are hurricanes covered?
Yes, many plans cover hurricanes and weather under trip cancellation coverage.
To be covered you need to 1) make sure it is listed as a covered reason, 2) buy before the storm is named, 3) insure for the full trip cost, and 4) some plans require that you buy soon after your trip payment to avoid the waiting period.
4. Are pre-existing conditions covered?
Yes, many plans offer a waiver that removes the pre-existing condition exclusion.To be covered you need to 1) buy your plan soon after your first trip payment, 2) insure for the full trip cost, 3) be medically cleared for travel at the time of purchase.
5. What does travel insurance cost?
Insurance costs 4–8% of the trip cost (pre-paid, non-refundable expenses).Basic plans can be very budget-minded at less than 4%, and premium vacation plans can be over 12%. Travel medical insurance is sold on a trip=length basis, and can be as little as dollars per day.
6. When should I purchase my plan?
Within days of making your initial trip deposit.There are many benefits to purchasing the plan sooner, including maximizing the period of cancellation coverage, and being eligible for pre-existing condition coverage and hurricane coverage.
7. How do I know I can trust the company?
The companies Sacred Rides recommends, and the ones featured by insurance comparison website Squaremouth.com are companies that have years of experience with solid AM Best ratings of financial stability, and they comply with a Zero Complaint Policy.
8. What is the refund policy?
A 100% refund of premium within the Free Look Period is guaranteed by almost all companies. This allows travelers to review their policy and return it for any reason with the time period (less a small administration fee $5-$8)
9. How do I buy travel insurance?
Travel insurance can be quoted and purchased instantly online using a credit card.Since travel insurance is a temporary insurance product, there is generally no underwriting period or medical examination required. You can get a quote online, buy with a credit card, print your email confirmation, and you’re all done.
Where Should I Buy My Travel Insurance?
At Sacred Rides, we reccommend two reputable companies that offer travel insurance to our Riders (our clients):
Allianz or World Nomads, for our Canadian and International Riders:
Travelex, for our US Riders:
Although we recommend these three companies for buying insurance, and their plans may not be right for you. To help find that out, visit Squaremouth– it’s a great travel insurance comparison tool. Click here to access the tool.