If you're planning a major trip, you may ignore the issue of travel insurance for one of two reasons: 1) you're too focused on planning the actual trip, or: 2) you don't want to think about all the things that could go wrong. But if something does go wrong, the time you spent choosing travel insurance could make a huge difference. Some trips do require this extra protection, so get up to date with these travel insurance tips.

Your Age Affects the Cost of Your Insurance

No, you don't have to get a physical like you would for life insurance. But the older you are, the more your travel insurance is likely to cost. Your physical condition may play a factor in the cost as well. Don't assume that what your older or younger friend paid for insurance on a similar trip necessarily applies to you.


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Don't Wait Till the Last Minute

While in some cases you can buy travel insurance days before you set off on your trip, in other cases, you have a window in which to make the purchase. Check with the specific travel insurance company you're considering to see what the timing requirements are. Also, be aware: You can't insure yourself against travel-related illness if you've already contracted the malady, and you can't insure against a forest fire or hurricane that's already started.


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Don't Look to Your Travel Rewards Card for Help

Have you noticed blurbs about insurance related to your travel rewards card? Take a closer look. Your card might offer rental car insurance, accident insurance, or maybe even some baggage insurance — but it's extremely unlikely to offer travel insurance to cover cancellation or interruption of your trip. That kind of insurance you have to buy separately.


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The Specifics of Your Trip Could Make a Difference

If you're taking a fairly sedate trip to a country such as England or Canada that has national health care, your need for travel insurance may be minimal. If you're taking a more adventurous trip, travel insurance could be a good idea. For example, think about what might happen on that back-country ski trip to the Alps. What happens if you get injured and need to be rescued by helicopter? Travel insurance might seem like the best deal in the world at that moment.


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Consider an Annual Policy If You Travel a Lot

Are you on the road for a good part of the year? If so, you might want to look into a cost-effective annual travel insurance policy that lets you grab your suitcase and go with a moment's notice. Take a close look at the fine print to make sure your typical trips fit under the maximum duration allowed.


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Read the Cancellation Policies Carefully

Not all travel insurance policies cover the same things. You might be covered, for instance, if you get sick or have an emergency and can't travel — but are you covered if circumstances beyond your control result in the cancellation of your flight or hotel? Think about likely scenarios you might face and make sure they're covered.


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Figure Out What Specific Travel Insurance You Want

You have a lot of choices when it comes to travel insurance. Do you want to cover lost baggage? Cancelled flights? Interruptions to your trip? Medical emergencies? Whatever it is, you can find the travel insurance policy to cover it. Ask for insurance packages that bundle multiple travel insurance coverage types together for the most comprehensive and personally applicable coverage.


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Check Out Government Warnings

If you're traveling to a potentially dangerous part of the world, head to the State Department's website to see if they have posted any travel warnings. Most travel insurance policies won't provide coverage for travel to any countries that have those warnings posted. Call the embassy of the country you're traveling to -- they may be able to point you in the direction of travel insurance that will cover you in their country.


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Don't Assume the Cheapest Policy is the Best Choice

Yes, your trip is probably pricey already, and you're looking for ways to cut corners. But don't go for the cheapest travel insurance policy based on price alone. Research till you find several policies that provide the coverage you want, do a little more research to verify you're dealing with reputable companies, and only then choose the cheapest of the options.


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Make Sure Your Gear is Covered

Think about all the electronics you carry with you on every trip. Your laptop, your tablet, your camera, your smartphone. Maybe you have high-value musical instruments to take with you on an out-of-state gig. Whenever you're traveling with these costly items, make sure your travel insurance covers them. Most insurance policies have a cap on per-item coverage, so be prepared to increase the limit if necessary.


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