Travel insurance: What to know before you go

Here, from, are five things retirees should consider when purchasing travel insurance:

  1. Medicare doesn’t provide coverage outside the United States.

Travel insurance can provide emergency travel medical coverage with limits that can reach $250,000 per person or more. For extreme situations where an overseas hospital can’t handle the emergency, most travel insurance plans offer emergency evacuation coverage with limits up to $1 million per person. Retirees planning to travel overseas multiple times a year should consider purchasing Medicare supplement insurance or a Medigap plan. However, since Medigap can have deductibles, lifetime coverage limits up to $50,000, and limits on the length of trip, most retirees may find single-trip travel insurance a better option.

  1. Purchase travel insurance early to qualify for a pre-existing condition waiver.

Most travel insurance will exclude coverage for losses that stem from a pre-existing condition. However, many plans offer a pre-existing condition exclusion waiver (meaning pre-existing conditions will be covered). To qualify, one must meet certain requirements, the most important being to purchase the travel insurance plan within a strict time window – usually seven to 21 days – from when the initial payment was made. Also, travelers typically need to insure 100 percent of their pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs. For travelers with pre-existing conditions, this is one of the most important considerations in purchasing a plan, as prior injuries, illnesses, diseases or other types of medical conditions in which any treatment or care was sought in the six to 12-month period prior to the policy effective date all fall into this category.

  1. If you’re traveling with a group, you can save money with group travel plans.

They don’t factor in traveler ages when pricing the cost of travel insurance, which can make plans more affordable to older travelers. Typically, to qualify for this coverage, the group must include at least 10 individuals all traveling on the same itinerary on similar dates. Group plans are also designed for easy administration by a group leader who can manage sign-ups and changes on behalf of each individual.

  1. Trip cancellation provides greater flexibility for those who need it.

Unlike Medigap coverage, travel insurance can offer trip cancellation and interruption coverage. This can cover the reimbursement of trip costs due to a range of unexpected circumstances, from last-minute illnesses to severe weather and natural disasters. For the most flexibility, travelers may consider purchasing a plan with a cancel-for-any-reason upgrade, which provides reimbursement for up to 75 percent of the total trip costs for a cancellation for any reason, as long as the cancellation occurs more than 48 hours prior to the trip departure date.

  1. You can buy travel insurance for your activities, too.

For the active traveler, we recommend plans that offer hazardous or adventure sports coverage for higher-risk activities, such as heli-skiing, off-trail snowboarding, bungee jumping, rock climbing or scuba diving below a certain depth. If travel entails any of those activities, travelers will need travel insurance plans that offers coverage for those specific activities.


Source:, which provides online comparisons of trip insurance coverage.