Travel Insurance Terms You Need to Know
Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

One of the biggest questions facing you as you prepare for a career break can be how to handle travel insurance for your trip. While it may not be fun to think about, it shouldn’t be left off of your travel to-do list.

Sometimes, understanding travel insurance jargon is like learning a foreign language, a little overwhelming and occasionally confusing.  But you don’t have to take a class to become a proficient and confident travel insurance consumer. Simply use this ‘cheat sheet’ of fundamental insurance terms from and you’ll be on your way to speaking fluently.

24-hour Traveler Assistance: Providing a host of critical services from processing prescription refills to managing and monitoring itinerary changes, the 24-hour Traveler Assistance program is truly a traveler’s best friend. A value-added benefit included in all travel insurance plans, insured travelers can call the company-provided phone number collect from anywhere in the world and receive special assistance with a wide-range of travel, medical, business, and concierge needs.

Accident Plans: Accidental Death and Dismemberment (AD&D) plans pay benefits if you should have a serious injury that results in dismemberment or loss of life. Loss-of-life benefits paid by these plans are in addition to any benefits paid by life insurance plans.

A.M. Best Ratings: One way to gain understanding of an insurance company’s financial health is through their A.M. Best rating. Industry watchdog A.M. Best rates and assesses insurance companies’ financial strength and ability to meet their obligations to policyholders. While it’s not a guarantee, a Best rating (A+ – F), provides guidance in understanding if an insurance company has the financial assets to cover its expected claims.

First Trip Payment Date: This is the date that money first exchanged hands for the trip you want to insure. Typically, this is the date the check is written, not the date it is cashed.

Major Medical: These plans are designed for travelers who will be abroad for at least 6 months and provide comprehensive medical protection including emergency medical treatment, wellness care, and optional prescription drug coverage. Like most health insurance plans, these plans contain both in- and out-of-network coverage, deductibles, and co-payments. They offer added travel benefits such as accidental death and emergency medical evacuation protection. Major Medical plans provide regular, long-term health coverage and require an application process. You cannot buy Major Medical plans online.

Medical Evacuation: This coverage can be purchased as a stand alone policy or it may be included in comprehensive travel policies. It provides evacuation to the nearest appropriate care facility or, in some cases, to your hospital of choice depending on the company and plan.

Package Policies: Trip Cancellation Package Policies offer the broadest protection, including coverage for trip cancellation, interruption, baggage and travel delay, as well as medical and emergency evacuation. To receive the most benefit from the travel insurance policy including financial default and terrorism protection as well as coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, the majority of the policies require that you purchase your policy within 10 to 30 days of your first trip payment.

Pre-existing Condition Period: (Or the Look Back Period) This is the number of days that the insurance company will ‘look back’ from the date the insurance was purchased to see if your claim is related to a pre-existing medical condition. The Look Back Period varies by company and plan and does not apply if you qualified for the Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver offered by many plans.

Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver: Many policies have a pre-existing medical exclusion, meaning that coverage is not available for pre-existing medical conditions. A Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver essentially deletes that exclusion and extends your policy to cover pre-existing condition-related risks. To be eligible for a Pre-existing Medical Condition Waiver, the majority of travel insurance policies require that you purchase your policy within 10 to 30 days of your first trip payment date and insure for the full amount of your non-refundable travel arrangements.

Travel Medical: Providing emergency medical coverage in the event of injury or illness, travel medical insurance policies are a ‘must-have’ for people going abroad. These plans also provide emergency medical evacuation coverage for transport to a proper care facility and can be purchased for travel up to a year in length.

Unforeseen: Some insurance plans are based upon the occurrence of ‘unforeseen’ events, meaning the event (a hurricane, for example), was not anticipated or expected and took place after the effective date of the policy.

With the basic insurance terms now part of your vocabulary, the idea of dealing with travel insurance before you leave on your career break shouldn’t be quite as daunting – and you should have more time to focus on the fun part – planning your trip!

We are proud to have Insure My Trip as a National Meet, Plan, Go! sponsor.


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