4 Quick Tips for Choosing the Right Travel Insurance

Travel insurance tips

Whether you’re planning an educational trip or a romantic cruise, choosing the right travel insurance can feel daunting, from getting car insurance in another country to understanding your travel medical policy’s fine print. 

The key is to talk to your carriers and really understand the details of your coverage. Not only will you have peace of mind that you’re covered, but if you need to use it, you’ll be prepared when you need it most.

Here are some tips for planning, buying, and understanding your travel insurance.


1. European car rental insurance and must-haves  

When it comes to renting a car, make sure the country where you will rent the vehicle honors your license and insurance (for example, Ireland and Italy have restrictions).

Crossing borders in Europe can have an impact on your insurance. Let the rental company know which countries you will visit. This is important, as there may be areas they will not cover. 

Going from Britain to the Continent. Fancy the 35-minute trip to France via the Chunnel? Ask the rental company about taking your British rental to other countries (including Ireland), as fees can be hefty. It may be more cost effective to rent a vehicle at your destination.

Get an international driving license. While you’ll most likely be okay with your passport and U.S. driver’s license, some countries require an International Driving Permit (IDP) (e.g., Austria, Poland, Italy, and Spain). 

Should you need to show a police officer your license, they’ll recognize the IDP instantly, and you’ll avoid a possible extra fine. For around twenty dollars, you can get an IDP easily through AAA. 

2. Critical cruise coverage

A medical condition that requires treatment, beyond what cruise medics can provide, will be expensive. Make sure you have medical travel coverage—before you get on board.

Cruise ships come with an infirmary (not a hospital), a doctor (or more, depending on the size of the vessel) and nurses. While they are all certified medical-care providers, they do not have the facilities to treat serious illnesses. 

Should you need to be transferred to a land-based hospital or evacuated from the ship, you will be responsible for all the expenses.

Additionally, understand your personal medical insurance coverage. As you plan your cruise, talk to your carrier about your medical insurance coverage and how it relates to travel. 

For example, Medicare typically won’t cover medical treatments outside the U.S. According to the Medicare website, “[t]here are some exceptions, including some cases where Medicare Part B (Medical Insurance) may pay for services that you get on board a ship within the territorial waters adjoining the land areas of the U.S.”

3. Travel insurance and pre-existing medical conditions

Travel insurance for a pre-existing medical condition will give you peace of mind that you’re covered wherever you travel. 

If you have a pre-existing health condition, take the time to research travel insurance that will cover you should the existing condition be related to an illness requiring treatment while outside the U.S.

Clear communication about your medical conditions is essential. If you don’t declare a medical condition, and you need to make a travel-related claim, the insurance company may reject the claim, and you will have to pay the medical costs.

For example, if you have a fall getting off the tour bus and doctors determine that it was related to your pre-existing condition (such as a heart condition or diabetes), your coverage will kick in if the pre-existing illness is listed.

4. Trip cancellation coverage fine print

While the most common reason for trip cancellation is for medical emergencies, your cancellation coverage covers many additional events. That includes terrorist attacks, hurricanes, and revoked vacation time-off. 

Some of the less-well-known events include being required to serve jury duty and not being able to enter your home due to a natural disaster, burglary, or vandalism.

Cancel For Any Reason versus Trip Cancellation

Cancel For Any Reason coverage is a policy upgrade that people often confuse with Trip Cancellation. Most likely, your policy will include Trip Cancellation. For extra protection, you can buy Cancel For Any Reason coverage.

The Cancel For Any Reason upgrade will partially cover cancellations for events not included under Travel Cancellation. Keep in mind that there are time-sensitive stipulations for purchasing the upgrade. Look into this option early in the planning stage of your trip.

Know what’s covered versus “I hope it’s covered” 

You buy travel insurance for peace of mind. But for true peace of mind, you need to know all the details of the policy. When it comes to choosing the right travel insurance, invest time researching the policy’s details. That includes reading and asking questions about:

  • Definitions
  • Provisions
  • Eligibility and period of coverage
  • Claims procedures and payments
  • Limitations and exclusions

In fact, make all your insurance carriers (auto, medical, and travel) part of your trip planning. Talk to them well in advance. Ask questions. Know what’s covered. Enjoy your trip!


Whether you’re driving through Europe or taking a cruise with your grandkids, choosing travel insurance for your particular needs is the smart way to plan your vacation.

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