Forbes: The Best Place To Buy Travel Insurance For Your Next Vacation

This article was originally published in Forbes on August 19, 2018

By Christopher Elliott

Joe Garza is looking for the best place to buy travel insurance for his next vacation. But like many travel insurance customers, his situation is a little complicated.

Garza, a retired airline worker, is on Medicare and has a pre-existing medical condition. He needs insurance to cover everything.

“That would also include hospitalization and recovery,” he says. “And if you had a travel companion, it would cover their costs, so you’re not left alone in a foreign land.”

There are a lot of folks like Garza out there. As people start thinking about their upcoming winter trips, they’re also looking for ways to protect themselves. Americans spent nearly $2.8 billion on travel protection, according to a 2017 survey by the US Travel Insurance Association, an increase of 19.1% from the year before. They want to know the best place to buy travel insurance.

Among their questions: Do I need separate health insurance? Does my current medical plan cover me? Do common travel insurance plans cover adventure sports? How about emergency evacuation and trip interruptions?

The answers don’t have to be complicated. I’ve already shared my list of the best travel insurance companies. But as a consumer advocate, I also monitor the best sites for buying travel insurance. I poll my readers once a year to find out where they buy their policies. For the rest of the year, I watch the complaints to make sure customers are getting the service they deserve. Then I work up a list.

Where’s the best place to buy travel insurance?

For the sake of simplicity, I’ll focus on travel insurance sold to Americans for domestic and international trips. There are several terrific sites that specialize in selling insurance to international travelers, like VisitorsCoverage. I think they merit their own story.

Of course, you can buy a policy directly through an insurance company or a travel agent. Bear in mind, too, that your credit card may offer coverage. But an option I really like is a third-party website that allows you to compare and buy a policy. It gives you more control over the process.

✓ You can find a good price and the best value since the sites offer policies from a selection of insurance companies.

✓ You can also compare multiple policies across several insurance companies, finding the coverage that you need.

✓ If something goes wrong, you have an advocate — the third-party company –to help you with a claim or an appeal.

A third-party site may be the best place to buy travel insurance. Working with independent sites helps answer pressing questions like Garza’s. They’ll tell you which policy has the best medical insurance or works with your health plans. Medical coverage is a huge issue for travelers, especially seniors on a bucket-list trip. When it comes to medical care, you can’t be too careful. Treatment for emergency medical care can bankrupt you when you travel abroad. I’ve heard too many horror stories about sky-high medical expenses.

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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