If you are an occasional traveler you’ll probably buy your insurance from the travel agent. But if you travel more than twice a year, it is much more cost effective to have one insurance lasting all year round, than buying one every time you travel.
Think ahead, plan ahead. Annual travel insurance easily pays for itself with just a couple of trips. But not all insurances are worth the same and as always cheapest is not necessarily the best. More on this later.
Annual travel insurance is not compulsory but it gives you the peace of mind case of illness and loss or damage to property and many other events. Where is the best place to buy annual travel insurance?
1. Your bank is probably the first place you’ll try. Banks have in recent times become highly competitive and in order to retain your business, may offer better rates. For example my bank has upgraded my checking account to a premium account and for that I pay $20 per month.
As a result I get several privileges including free, worldwide, comprehensive travel insurance. But here is the best part … I get all this free travel insurance not just for myself but also for any member of my family traveling with me including my parents and siblings.
I said free because I am already getting other benefits which are worth a lot more than $20 per month if I were to buy them individually. I also save a lot of time as I never have to look around for insurance. So don’t ignore your bank.
2. Credit card companies also offer similar insurances, with some added advantages. In case of theft or loss of your credit card, they will supply you with an emergency one, often within a few hours.
In addition to travel insurance offers, there is another advantage in checking your credit card company’s terms. If you book your travel using your credit card, pretty much all card companies give excellent cover against many of the things that can go wrong.
Some credit card companies also have specialist travel departments which not only give you travel discounts but also give you even better protection, i.e. better travel insurance and at a much lower cost. But note that all insurance offers exclude you making a claims, for the same item, to multiple sources even if you do have multiple insurance cover.
For example, let’s say you have bought travel insurance separately and you have bought your travel ticket using your credit card. If your luggage is lost, you can almost certainly make a claim to either of the two sources but not to both at the same time.
The reason is that the insurance companies have suffered massive fraud in recent years. Allowing multiple claims simply encourages fraudsters to have multiple insurances and make multiple false claims.
For example, they can take an already damaged suitcase on a long journey knowing that it will fall apart. They can then claim damage and loss of property from multiple insurers.
3. Insurance companies are a popular and obvious source for annual travel insurance. If you drive a car or have home insurance get a quote from your insurance company. Remember, because you are already a customer, your car insurance often entitles you to a very good discount.
Here’s a tip: if they don’t give you a competitive insurance, tell them that you will be looking else where for a good package. Let them know you will be looking for a package that includes great home insurance, excellent travel insurance and also good car insurance.
Listen, fear of loss WILL make them bend over backwards for you and if they don’t? Here’s another tip: When you talk to any other source to get your competitive travel insurance, make sure you mention your other assets that you could be insuring with them, such as your car, home, home contents, etc.
This won’t work with travel companies but works absolutely beautifully with most insurance companies. I have done it many times and saved myself thousands of dollars, yes thousands, over the last few years.
The insurance industry is massively competitive. For once, this works in favor of the “little guy” (you and me), so let’s use it.
4. Certain types of home insurance may also give annual travel cover. Do look into pretty much any insurance cover you have. Some home insurance policies include some forms of travel cover including loss or damage to your property while away from home.
Tip: even if you live with your parents, ask them to check their policy for you. You will be amazed to see that even “your” property is covered while away from home.
Just one word of caution: do not assume what is covered or the level cover. If you are not sure just ask the insurer. If the cover they describe seems even better than what you expected based on the policy document, then do ask them to put their clarification in writing.
Why? When any major loss occurs, the insurer will send a local expert to assess the damage. These guys are called loss adjustors. Their job is to save money for the insurance company. And I tell you from bitter personal experience, they take no prisoners.
They will screw you down to the ground, if you don’t get things in clear black and white writing. Just do it. It takes minutes to request clarification in writing but can save you thousands of dollars when you have one of these mean loss adjustors arguing with you over the policy.
5. You can also buy last minute travel insurance from travel agents and airlines at the airport. Expect to be taken advantage of, heavily! Needless to say, this is one of your most expensive options. Just avoid ending up with this option, see to your insurance long before you need to travel.
Now here’s the thing. Travel insurance policies are not all identical. As well as considering price, you absolutely must read the terms and conditions carefully. For example, the upper age limit of some insurance companies may vary.
Some companies may limit the number of annual trips, whilst others may have no limit at all. Look, most travel insurance policies cover a range of events and claims. But as they say, the devil is in the detail.
The problem you will definitely face with some really cheap policies from unknown and possibly disreputable companies is what they put in the fine print. You know what I’m talking about? … all those tiny little statements they put on the back of the form? Or if you are buying insurance online (and you should), notice all those pages of really small text they ask you to agree to?
Well, that’s where they bury lots of little conditions and limitations. Most people don’t read all the terms. Do yourself a huge favor and on this occasion, do read it all. If the insurance policy terms are full of “weasel words” or complex language, just move on and do not buy.
All insurance companies are quick to point out how many millions you can claim in “total”, in case of a serious accident. But they all limit the amount per item within your claim. So claims for loss of cash will be capped and so will claims for electronic devices, clothes, etc.
This means that with the cheaper policies you will have a really low limit. For example, if you claim for a mobile phone and an MP3 player, you may find that the limit on personal electronics is not enough to even pay for “one” of those devices, let alone both. Don’t wait for an unfortunate event to show you the flaws in a dirt cheap policy. That is the worst time to find out and it is a time when you need the most help.