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Travel Insurance: The Basics

What is travel insurance? And why do I need it?

March 9th, 2020

Travel Insurance 101 & Frequently Asked Questions

No one wants to think about missing their vacation, but ensuring that you have appropriate travel insurance coverage can really decrease the stress and financial pain of the unexpected! Travel insurance comes in many different shapes and sizes, and it will take some work on your behalf to read through the fine print and find the right policy for you and your unique circumstances. Below are some of the basic factors you’ll want to consider.

What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance typically refers to three types of coverage that you can buy individually or all together in what is often called comprehensive insurance.

  • Trip Cancellation: covers cancellation of your trip before you start on your journey
  • Trip Interruption: covers delays and interruptions once you have started on your journey (e.g. flight/weather delays; missed connections; and sometimes may cover things like lost baggage, car rentals, etc.)
  • Medical Coverage: covers any issues regarding your health and sometimes the health of your travel partner/medical issues with family members

When Should I Buy Travel Insurance?
The simple answer is: as soon as you pay for any portion of your trip and before you need it. When you place a deposit with Spirit of the West Adventures or purchase your flights the clock starts ticking in the eyes of insurance companies. Every plan has different requirements but in order to maximize coverage and be eligible for cancellation insurance you typically need to purchase insurance between 10 – 21 days after you pay for any portion of your tour.

Why Would I Need Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance can help with costs arising from unforeseen circumstances that affect your travel like ash clouds from volcanoes grounding flights, travel advisories because of a safety risk for visitors, unexpected medical issues, etc. No one ever plans on breaking their leg, not being able to vacation because of a virus outbreak, or having their travel partner have to back out of the trip because of a family emergency.

Spirit of the West Adventures does try to be human with our Terms and Conditions when it comes to cancellations, but we also know that you most likely have other non-refundable travel arrangements to think about as well.

What Is ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ Insurance?
As the name would imply, this new type of insurance can cover expenses associated with canceling your travels at your discretion, including for reasons that are not typically covered by traditional travel insurance. This could mean insurance coverage if you decide you are uncomfortable traveling, need to care for a sick pet, change jobs, etc.

Cancel for Any Reason Insurance is often more expensive than traditional travel insurance and covers a lower amount (usually up to 75% of the cost of your trip), but if you want the ultimate in control in deciding to travel or not, this coverage may be for you.

What About Coverage for Coronavirus-Related Issues?
Coronavirus is a known risk that some companies have stopped covering through traditional travel insurance products. Check if your policy covers Coronavirus-related trip insurance. Cancel for Any Reason insurance could be used in this case, but please check your policy!

More information about Coronavirus impacts in Canada can be found on Canada’s government website.

Don’t I Have Coverage Through My Credit Card?
Credit cards often have some level of interruption insurance, but this is usually a very limited amount and only the interruption-type of coverage, not trip cancellation or medical coverage. Some cards offer more comprehensive coverage but read through the details and determine what your credit card insurance includes and if this only covers the primary card holder or travel companions as well.

Doesn’t Canada Have Free Medical Care?
You will never be refused medical care in Canada regardless of if you can pay or not, but health care is not free for people who are not citizens or Permanent Residents of Canada. Emergency services like helicopter evacuations, hospitalization, and diagnostics can add up quickly.

Where Can I Purchase Travel Insurance?
We recommend checking out insurance brokers that show you policies and prices from several different insurance companies. Check out these Forbes List recommended companies that all guests can use regardless of citizenship:

The Moral of the Story
The moral of the story is: it is better safe than sorry and be sure to read the fine print of your policy. It can be heartbreaking to have to miss the vacation that you have been planning for months or years, and to lose your travel and adventure funds for something out of your control.

Disclaimer: Spirit of the West is not an insurance expert or insurance provider. The information here is only meant to be helpful. We do not receive any compensation from any of the companies listed.

Posted in Trip Preparation

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