Travel

Retirees, Cover Your Trip and Your Health, Too

Travel insurance may protect you if have to cancel or interrupt a trip, or if you get sick while on the road.

Packing your bags for a big trip? don’t forget the travel insurance. It can protect you if unforeseen circumstances force you to cancel or interrupt a trip—or if you get sick while on the road.

Retiree John Murtagh says health coverage was a key reason he purchased travel insurance earlier this year. He knew that Medicare wouldn’t provide coverage outside the U.S. So before embarking on a two-week voyage in May from Miami to Southampton, England, the 66-year-old bought a WaveCare travel insurance policy that’s designed for cruises from Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection for about $500. “I travel quite a bit,” Murtagh says. “It’s essential coverage.”

To maximize a travel policy’s benefits, “the number-one thing to remember is to buy travel insurance right after making the first payment” for the trip, says Carol Mueller, vice president of Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Purchasing insurance within 14 days of that first payment typically ensures you will get coverage for preexisting conditions, experts say, and mitigates the risk of not being covered if a hurricane, terrorist attack or other disaster ruins your trip before it begins.

Policy premiums depend on the traveler’s age and the length and cost of the trip. “You want to cover anything prepaid or not refundable,” says Erin Gavin, an insurance product analyst for InsureMyTrip.com. If you have nonrefundable transportation costs of $1,200 and a refundable hotel reservation for $2,000, buy coverage just for the transport costs. Generally, Gavin says, the premium will run 4% to 10% of the cost of the trip.

Picking a Policy

You can shop policies at sites such as InsureMyTrip.com or SquareMouth.com, which let you compare the features and prices of policies from multiple carriers. “A higher price tag doesn’t mean more benefits or better service,” says Jenna Hummer, director of public relations for SquareMouth.

You can buy standalone medical coverage, but in many cases, it makes sense to buy a comprehensive policy that includes trip cancellation, trip interruption and medical. A policy that lets you cancel for any reason gives you the most flexibility but also costs more. Frequent travelers should weigh the costs of single-trip policies versus an annual travel policy. “You buy it once and have coverage for all the trips and travel emergencies you might face in a year,” says Daniel Durazo, director of marketing and communications for Allianz Partners USA. Allianz offers annual policies that start at $135.

Whether you have private health insurance or Medicare, check whether your insurance will cover you while traveling, particularly if you are headed overseas. Traditional Medicare typically doesn’t cover health care outside the U.S. and its territories. But some Medigap supplemental insurance plans offer coverage for foreign emergency health care. Medicare Advantage beneficiaries may run into coverage issues while traveling abroad and even within the U.S. Advantage plans generally have limited service networks, and traveling outside your local area can throw you out of network, making needed care costlier.

Make sure the activities on your trip agenda aren’t excluded. Active boomers seeking thrills on vacation by rock climbing or heli-skiing can buy travel insurance policies that will specifically cover those more risky activities. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection offers a policy called AdrenalineCare geared to active travelers, and SquareMouth.com recently launched an “Adventure & Sports Travel Insurance” section that lets you search policies specific to active travel.

You can also buy travel insurance geared toward cruises, as Murtagh did. Such a policy could come in handy if you miss the boat at a port of call or need health care beyond the scope of the ship’s doctor.

Before buying a policy, check the coverage for medical evacuation. Without it, you could be on the hook for tens of thousands of dollars in transport costs if you have to be flown to the nearest hospital or back home because of a medical emergency.

Most Popular

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Month
Coronavirus and Your Money

Refunds for $10,200 Unemployment Tax Break to Begin This Month

The IRS will start issuing automatic refunds sometime in May to people eligible for the unemployment benefit tax exemption.
May 1, 2021
Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs
Coronavirus and Your Money

Child Tax Credit 2021: Who Gets $3,600? Will I Get Monthly Payments? And Other FAQs

People have lots of questions about the new $3,000 or $3,600 child tax credit and the advance payments that the IRS will send to most families in 2021…
May 4, 2021
10 Dividend Growth Stocks You Can Count On
dividend stocks

10 Dividend Growth Stocks You Can Count On

What should investors prioritize in dividend growth stocks? A history of aggressive payout expansion, and the ability to generate enough cash to keep …
May 3, 2021

Recommended

Estate-Planning Your Stuff with T. Eric Reich
Empty Nesters

Estate-Planning Your Stuff with T. Eric Reich

What to do with the house, the vacation house and the china? We talk with a financial adviser who's got some wise counsel. Also, who makes up the so-c…
May 2, 2021
Stimulus Plan Has Health Insurance Benefits, Too
Coronavirus and Your Money

Stimulus Plan Has Health Insurance Benefits, Too

The plan’s health care provisions could deliver big savings for early retirees and laid-off workers.
April 29, 2021
Surprise Medical Bills Are Coming to an End
health insurance

Surprise Medical Bills Are Coming to an End

With the No Surprises Act taking effect in 2022, patients will no longer live in fear of receiving an unexpected and exorbitant medical bill for emerg…
April 27, 2021
What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans
529 Plans

What You Need to Know about College 529 Savings Plans

Do you know how much you’re able to contribute or what the funds could be used to pay for? How about how contributing affects your taxes? Check out th…
April 14, 2021