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Considering travel insurance? The Commerce Department has what you need to know

2/23/2016 3:08:01 PM

Whether it's a long weekend or an international tour, taking a trip requires both planning and money. All that careful planning and budgeting can be derailed by a delayed flight or sudden illness. 

If you are planning a trip for spring break, the Minnesota Department of Commerce suggests you consider the pros and cons of travel insurance to see if it's right for your trip.

“Travel insurance can alleviate some of the uncertainty and stress of trip planning,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman. “I urge Minnesotans to weigh the risks and review coverage options before purchasing travel insurance.”

Check your coverage

Before you buy travel insurance, review the policies you have now. If you have life, health or homeowners insurance, you may not need to buy certain types of travel insurance. 

Read your policy and check with your insurance company or agent to learn what personal property and medical coverage you have while you’re traveling.  Check if your credit cards provide any coverage for delays, cancellation or lost baggage.

Most homeowners insurance policies cover personal property lost or stolen during a trip. Check with your home insurer to see what they cover while you are traveling. If you have expensive items, you might want to purchase a floater to add to your current homeowners policy to cover those items.

Consider the risks

You typically don't need travel insurance for short trips close to home. Consider the risks involved. A traveler hiking in Kenya will have very different risks than someone taking in the sights of New York City. Think about the chances you’ll be affected by severe weather or missing baggage. If you have health concerns or have a loved one who is ill, it might be worth considering travel insurance. Carefully read and understand the coverage risks of any travel insurance policy. The policy may reduce, or eliminate coverage for losses resulting from pre-existing health conditions.

Understand the basics

There are four main categories of travel insurance:

  • Trip cancellation - Reimburses pre-paid travel expenses if you are prevented from taking your trip because you become ill or die.
  • Travel medical - Reimburses medical and emergency dental expenses that you incur because of an illness or injury while you are traveling.
  • Emergency medical evacuation - Provides emergency transportation to either a hospital in the geographic region where you are and/or transportation back to a hospital near your home.
  • Accidental death/Flight accident - Accidental death covers death or dismemberment at any time during a trip while air flight accident covers death or dismemberment during flight only.

Shop around

If you decide that travel insurance suits your needs, comparison shop between companies and plans. Prices will vary and there may be policies with coverage that you don’t need. 

/commerce/consumers/tips-tools/license-lookup.jspUse the Commerce Department License Lookup Tool to check that you are purchasing insurance from a licensed agent.

Beware of “opt-out” travel insurance

The Commerce Department has taken action in the past against travel websites that automatically signed up consumers for travel insurance coverage unless they affirmatively stated that they did not want it.  

This tactic is commonly referred to as requiring the consumer to “opt-out” and is illegal. It can cause rushed consumers to inadvertently buy optional products that they otherwise would not have selected. 

Take the time to review each step of an online transaction and make sure you do not agree to buy a product that you do not want.

Commerce is here to help

If you have a question or concern about your insurance, contact the Commerce Department’s Consumer Services Center by email at consumer.protection@state.mn.us or by phone at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota).

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