With the political climate in some countries and the financial implications or traveling to others, people are more aware of travel risks. One question that comes up repeatedly is the need for travel insurance. When traveling abroad, this issue takes on a new kind of importance. There are two primary types of travel-related coverage: one that is common called "travel insurance" and covers the cost of cancelled or interrupted travel, and can often reimburse unexpected expenses for changes in travel plans. The second type of coverage is for medical costs, should you become ill while outside the United States.

Fortunately for travelers, the option to buy travel coverage is abundant...when you book flights, hotels, tours and rental cars you are often offered the travel insurance. Unfortunately, the explanations those venues offer are often less clear. Here's what Trusted Choice, an insurance association and resource, has to say about travel insurance in their article "When You Travel, Do You Need Special Insurance?":

"Travel insurance covers the loss of the prepaid travel costs of a trip should it be canceled, interrupted, or postponed. It also can reimburse unexpected expenses incurred due to a sudden change in travel plans due to illness or other causes. Specialty medical coverage protects against personal insurance risks when someone is outside the United States.

Travelers can buy travel coverage in conjunction with their travel tour, hotel bookings or flight reservations. It's also available from providers that specialize in the international insurance market. For example, Continental, a major international airline, offers trip cancellation and interruption coverage through its reservations website. The coverage reimburses the travel for "prepaid, unused, non-refundable travel expenses should your trip be cancelled or interrupted due to any covered reason." Such reasons include: inclement weather, an unexpected illness, death of a traveler, and travel delays.

Trip Interruption insurance is another variation. It can provide reimbursement for extra food and lodgings if a traveler becomes ill during the course of a trip. Some plans cover medical costs. Trip delay insurance covers expenses a traveler incurs in resuming a planned trip or returning home after being quarantined in another county. Often, these various coverages are bundled and sold together in a package.

Short-term medical insurance may be appropriate for the millions of U.S. residents who travel outside the U.S. every year. Those who travel outside of America may be going beyond the boundaries of their medical insurance without knowing it, according to Clements International, a provider of international insurance policies.

The unpredictable nature of the spreading of swine flu that began in April 2009 has heightened awareness of health risks while traveling around the world. Travelers may wish to consider short-term medical insurance if they're traveling outside of the United States for an extended vacation or business trip. To determine whether it's necessary, it's advisable to check if a domestic health insurance policy covers out-of-country travel. If not, short-term medical insurance provides coverage for illnesses or medical evacuations that occur while traveling outside of the United States."

Often international travelers face the same insurance risks while outside the country that they do stateside, but those insurance policies may not transfer exactly. It is always best to double check your policies to make sure they are covering you when and where you'll be going. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to give us a call!