Comprehensive trip insurance is valuable if you're booking a very expensive or complicated trip (particularly to an isolated region) or if you're booking far in advance. Comprehensive policies typically cover trip cancellation and interruption, letting you cancel or cut your trip short because of a personal emergency, illness, or, in some cases, acts of terrorism in your destination. Such policies also cover evacuation and medical care. Some also cover you for trip delays because of bad weather or mechanical problems as well as for lost or delayed baggage.
Another type of coverage to look for is financial default—that is, when your trip is disrupted because a tour operator, airline, or cruise line goes out of business. Generally you must buy this when you book your trip or shortly thereafter, and it's only available to you if your operator isn't on a list of excluded companies.
Always read the fine print of your policy to make sure that you are covered for the risks that are of most concern to you. Compare several policies to make sure you're getting the best price and range of coverage available.
Comprehensive Travel Insurers
Access America (800/284-8300. www.accessamerica.com.)
AIG Travel Guard (800/826-4919. www.travelguard.com.)
CSA Travel Protection (800/348-9505. www.csatravelprotection.com.)
HTH Worldwide (610/254-8700. www.hthworldwide.com.)
Travelex Insurance (800/228-9792. www.travelex-insurance.com.)
Travel Insured International (800/243-3174. www.travelinsured.com.)
Insurance Comparison Sites
Insure My Trip.com (800/487-4722. www.insuremytrip.com.)
Square Mouth.com (800/240-0369 or 727/564-9203. www.squaremouth.com.)
Medical Insurance and Assistance
Consider buying trip insurance with medical-only coverage. Neither Medicare nor some private insurers cover medical expenses anywhere outside the United States. Medical-only policies typically reimburse you for medical care (excluding that related to preexisting conditions) and hospitalization abroad, and provide for evacuation. You still have to pay the bills and await reimbursement from the insurer, though.
Another option is to sign up with a medical-evacuation assistance company. Membership gets you doctor referrals, emergency evacuation or repatriation, 24-hour hotlines for medical consultation, and other assistance. International SOS Assistance Emergency and AirMed International provide evacuation services and medical referrals. MedjetAssist offers medical evacuation.
Medical Assistance Companies
AirMed International (800/356-2161. www.airmed.com.)
International SOS (www.internationalsos.com.)
MedjetAssist (800/527-7478. www.medjetassist.com.)
International Medical Group (800/628-4664 or 317/655-4500. www.imglobal.com.)
Wallach & Company (800/237-6615 or 540/687-3166. www.wallach.com.)
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