How to find the right travel insurance

(NC) -- You took time off, booked the flight or packed the car, and you're ready to go…or so you think. Whether you're going on a quick shopping trip across the border, a beach vacation, or an excursion to the other side of the world, you're not fully prepared unless you have the right travel insurance.

“Many people assume that their credit card or group plan's built-in coverage will suffice for any possible eventuality. That's often not the case,” says Lori Hartery, the financial services manager at Western Financial Group. “Before relying on yours, find out what it covers.” She suggests that to guarantee complete protection you consider the following:

Do you have enough coverage?

Is there a maximum number of days covered?

Do you have trip cancellation or interruption protection?

Is there a point-of-contact for emergencies?

What happens if you lose your luggage?

Does your coverage extend to your entire family?

Does your credit card cover trips that you booked using a different payment method?

Additionally, you should take into account what you will do while away. If you like adventure travel and plan to zip-line, skydive, or bungee jump on or above foreign soil, then most, but not all, travel plans will have you covered. Nevertheless, ask your advisor to make absolutely sure.

Research, research, research.

Wherever you go, you should know what you need to get into the country and resources you can use for help once you're there. Take the time to research local consulate and embassy locations, as well as vaccination requirements for entry. Also, certain countries – including Poland, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic – will not let visitors in without proof of up-to-date insurance, so prepare your documentation ahead of time. And don't forget: even day trips to the United States pose certain dangers, so make sure you have the appropriate coverage.

How are claims handled?

If you need to put your insurance policy into action while away, how you use it can vary from place to place and policy to policy. For instance, certain hospitals refuse to bill your issuer directly and others want small payments up front. “Even with the most comprehensive coverage, you need a backup plan – like a credit card – in case you must pay for medical expenses out of your own pocket before being reimbursed,” points out Hartery.

While unexpected events can derail your trip, insurance plans are typically flexible. “If you should require a long hospital stay while traveling, some policies have automatic extensions, which start the moment you seek care. This ensures that you are covered as long as you need it,” Hartery explains. ”Check with your insurance representative before leaving and find out exactly how your plan works.”

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