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Secure Your Next Adventure: Why Travel Insurance Shouldn’t Be an Afterthought

Picture your dream vacation, the experience of a lifetime. Imagine exploring ancient castles, wandering along cobblestone streets and soaking up medieval history. Or perhaps envision hiking craggy mountains, bathing in abundant sunshine and embracing the untamed wilderness. These adventures evoke hopes and dreams – and are often the result of achieving carefully planned savings goals. But what happens if you slip on uneven ground, experience a medical scare or encounter an unwelcome disruption? While we generally anticipate delayed flights or lost baggage, in the worst-case scenarios, out-of-pocket costs can have a big impact on our finances.

Why consider travel insurance?

Fundamentally, insurance is a means to share risk. We buy travel insurance in case of trip disruption, serious injury or some other catastrophic event that requires a change in plans or even personal evacuation. Although coverage varies tremendously, a comprehensive policy might include the following services:

  • Travel assistance services
  • Trip interruptions and cancellations
  • Cancel for any reason (CFAR)
  • Lost or delayed baggage
  • Medical emergencies abroad
  • Evacuation and repatriation
  • Supplemental coverage for adventure activities

An adequate travel insurance policy will provide travel assistance via portal or 24-hour hotline. If your bags go missing en route to a destination wedding, your hotel is mysteriously closed, or you experience a medical emergency, you’ll be able to contact them first.

When traveling overseas, facing an emergency can be overwhelming. U.S. embassies or consulates can provide guidance to travelers in crisis situations – medical emergencies, natural disasters or security threats – but they can’t help you pay for them. If you’re concerned about the quality of medical care in the country you’re visiting, make sure your policy includes medical evacuation coverage. Check to see whether it covers expenses incurred due to pre-existing conditions.

If you’re the friend or family member everyone calls in an emergency, giving travel insurance to your loved ones will benefit you as well as the traveler.

What types of policies should I consider?

Comprehensive single trip – If you take one big trip a year, or your loved one is heading overseas to celebrate a milestone event such as a graduation, this is likely the preferred solution.

Comprehensive annual or multi-trip policies – If you travel frequently or make quick spur-of-the moment trips, this insurance is a practical solution. It’s typically less expensive and certainly more convenient to buy a single annual policy than to weigh the pros and cons of buying insurance every time you head to the airport. And you know that the one time you don’t bother with insurance coverage is when you’ll actually need to file a claim.

Medical-only insurance – If your domestic health insurance policy (including Medicare and supplements) does not cover medical providers overseas, this is a simple decision. Buy this insurance and be sure the coverage includes medical treatment and evacuation. Frequent travelers using points may have flexibility to change airline or hotel arrangements at the last minute, so a comprehensive policy would be unnecessary.

Evacuation coverage – If you’re concerned about geopolitical risk or a health situation that may exceed the skills of local medical professionals, be sure that your insurance policy provides a meaningful amount of evacuation coverage. Travel by air ambulance is expensive, and you may also need a chaperone or health care professional to escort you. Medevac small jets may not have room for your bags, so they’ll need to be shipped separately.

Complimentary coverage

Credit card coverage – Some cards offer excellent travel protection benefits and concierge services. If you rely on your credit cards, then be sure you understand the coverage requirements. You’ll likely need to coordinate any change in plans or medical care directly through the card’s helpline or service providers, rather than incurring costs and expecting reimbursement. If you use multiple cards in order to maximize your airline or hotel points, be sure to track which card provides the best protection. Some cards offer car rental insurance in several overseas countries, but you may be asked for documentation of the specific coverage before you can decline supplemental car rental insurance and drive off the lot. Jet lag and language barriers don’t make this any easier.

Trip protection – If your tour provider offers travel protection, be sure to read the fine print. Keep in mind this is not the same as travel insurance. Typically, it’s a limited form of travel cancellation coverage paid by a traveler directly to a tour operator or cruise line, rather than a regulated insurance product. In case of a bankruptcy, the unlucky traveler could lose the cost of the trip and the ability to claim on the protection coverage. 

Am I buying duplicate coverage?

Probably not! If you have U.S.-based health insurance, including Medicare plus supplement, it’s unlikely that you’re covered for any non-emergency medical needs that arise when overseas.

Did you book a trip through a tour company but buy your flights independently? Call your insurance provider before you pack your bags. It’s worth confirming that any policy you purchased covers independent travel before or after the organized tour.

Consider self-insuring if you’re going to a country where you’re confident in the medical system, but if you’re traveling to less-developed countries and experience a medical crisis, evacuation may be your best option, and you’ll regret not buying a policy.

Filing a claim

In an ideal world, we pay for insurance and never need to use it. Unfortunately, not all trips go as smoothly as we dreamed. If you do run into issues and need to file a claim, make sure you understand the claims process. Gather all relevant documentation and submit your claim within the insurance company’s published timeline.


When it comes to protecting your wealth, travel insurance could seem like a minor detail. But if you intend to travel frequently, this protection improves the likelihood that your financial plan will support your goals. When mapping out your next adventure, talk to your wealth advisor about the policies that would best fit your circumstances. After all, asset protection in all its forms is a key driver of peace of mind and most importantly, financial security.

Beacon Hill Private Wealth is an independent, fee-only, fiduciary investment advisor providing evidence-based wealth planning solutions that simplify our clients' financial lives.  We serve clients in the state of New Jersey and across the country.

Founder Tom Geoghegan, CFP®, CIMA®, CPWA®, RMA® is also a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and featured on the Fee-Only Network

We welcome the opportunity to learn more about your unique circumstances and share how Beacon Hill adds value to our clients' lives.  Ready to talk?  Simply schedule a phone call or virtual meeting using our Calendly booking tool.

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