How do I travel insurance?
February 12, 2017 5:27 AM   Subscribe

Planning on going to Italy this summer, and would like to purchase travel insurance. Please talk to me about it like I'm 5.

I'm planning on flying in/out of Rome (from the US), but will spend most of my time on a pre-paid tour through the mountains of Abruzzo. I've traveled abroad been to Italy before, but not this region, and I know it's prone to earthquakes.

Also as someone with an unusual name who had Muslim immigrant parents and often gets assumed to be Middle Eastern, I've certainly experienced some questioning at customs & immigration returning to the US - I'm a little hesitant to make travel plans abroad. But I really, really want to go on this trip.

I've never purchased travel insurance before. I know nothing about it. Where do I start? What can I get it to cover? How much will it cost me? I anticipate the following being most of my expenses:
- pre-paid tour via Google Wallet (includes pretty much everything - lodging, meals, and transportation for a week)
- flight, via credit card
- a few nights hotel in Rome
- a couple nights via Air B&B in a super small town
posted by raztaj to Travel & Transportation around Italy (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Travel insurance is super easy. You can totally buy it online. I have used in the past. I never had to make a claim, so I can't comment on how well their claims process works.

Expect the insurance to cost around 10% of the trip price. It may be a bit more or a bit less, depending upon the type of coverage you get. The way it works at travelguard at least is you just enter the trip cost in their web site and it will tell you how much it will cost before you decide to buy. Other companies probably work similarly, so you should be able to shop around to find the best insurance for you.

Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time after you book your trip to buy the travel insurance. I forget if this is 10 days or 30 days. I think this is to prevent you from waiting until right before your trip and then just buying the insurance because you decide to cancel the trip.

The insurance will usually cover the following things:
- tour company/airline/hotel going out of business. (This is apparently more common than you think)
- cancelling trip due to injury or illness

You can also buy extra coverage (or is sometimes included):
- evacuation to home country due to illness or injury on the trip
- medical coverage in the event or illness or injury on the trip
- sometimes if you're doing adventure sports and you want medical coverage for that, you may have to pay extra for that
- coverage for flight cancellation. (Usually you'll get some money that can be used to pay for a hotel and/or another flight to your destination)
- coverage for lengthy flight delays
- coverage for delayed or lost baggage. (If your bags are delayed for 1-3 days, you'll get some money to help pay for a change of clothes and toiletries and things like that. If your bags are permanently lost, you'll get more money to replace those things)
- delays due to weather
- cancellation due to weather
- cancel for any reason. (This will be more expensive, but may be worth it, especially if your trip is 6 months away and you have no idea what will happen between now and then)
- injury or illness to a travel companion (there may be some restrictions on this, like the companion may have to be a relative or something)
- cancel for work reason (emergency comes up at work requiring you to stay. Probably needs a letter from work you would need to send to the insurance company to claim)

I think the travel insurance will not cover if you get detained at the border or denied entry to the country. Acts of war or terrorism are also generally not covered.

You can buy the insurance to cover just a part of the trip. So for example, if your flights were 100% refundable, you could buy insurance just for the packaged tour and hotels. (Note that it may actually be cheaper to just buy a nonrefundable ticket and buy cancel for any reason travel insurance than buying a refundable ticket.)

You can go on any travel insurance company web site and put in your trip price. Their web site will tell you how much the insurance will cost and exactly what is covered and what is not covered.
posted by cruelfood at 6:13 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

What exactly are you trying to insure against?
posted by JPD at 7:08 AM on February 12, 2017 [1 favorite]

Check the fine print on benefits with your credit cards; much like with car rental insurance, one of my cards comes with travel insurance when you use it to book travel.
posted by TwoStride at 7:34 AM on February 12, 2017 [2 favorites]

I've used World Nomads to buy a policy online, the fancy flavor that includes medical evac coverage (in case my extremely non-sporty self fell down somewhere). The trip was 7 weeks, and the insurance cost was ~$250 USD? I didn't make any claims against it.
posted by janell at 8:30 AM on February 12, 2017

I've gotten policies with Allianz, though I never had to use it.
posted by gudrun at 9:58 AM on February 12, 2017

I filed a claim with Allianz for a concert I could not attend and they paid up pronto.
posted by shaarog at 5:25 PM on February 12, 2017

I did a lot of research into travel insurance recently. The best deal I found for insurance that offered cancellation for any reason (up to 48 hours of departure time) was with Travel Insured International. I got the Worldwide Trip Protector Plus plan. It cost $300 for a two week trip for two adults and one kid to the UK. You do have to buy it within a short time frame from when you make your first payment for anything for the trip.

Our credit card does offer some travel related protection for expenses charged to the card, but I wanted the extra protection of being able to cancel for any reason, and that turns out to be the tricky part of the equation. Most basic travel insurance plans cover cancellation for covered reasons, which are detailed in fine print, and I didn't want to risk having a reason to cancel that wasn't one of the covered reasons. I did some reading of online reviews and this company seemed pretty legit and reasonable to deal with.
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 7:05 PM on February 12, 2017

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