How to navigate through your policy

Compass and paper

You’ve purchased travel insurance – now you’re protected if something goes wrong during your trip, but do you know what you are protected from? How about what exclusions there are? Or how and when to file a claim? 

Buying a travel insurance policy is smart thinking, but that’s not the end of making sure you and your family are protected while you are away from home. The next important step is to read and understand that policy. Knowing what you are and aren’t covered for can help things go smoothly in the unfortunate event you have a claim, and can save you from losing money.


You’re Not Alone

We know – insurance policies are not the easiest or most exciting documents to read. The idea of sitting down with a cup of coffee and digging in is, understandably, not high on anyone’s list, but help is available.

If you purchased your policy through an insurance broker or travel agent, arrange to go through the policy with them in detail and ask them to explain what each section says and what it means for you. If you bought the policy online, you can call the provider and ask to speak with someone who can provide the same service.


Tips for Reading Your Policy

All travel insurance policies have a standard set of sections that serve a similar purpose. Here is a summary of the key sections found in most policies and what you should watch for in each:

Eligibility requirements: It’s a good idea to start reading your policy with this section – it outlines a set of basic requirements that you must meet in order to be eligible for coverage under that policy. Be sure that you meet these conditions, otherwise your insurance may not be valid.

Insurance agreement: This section provides information about the agreement you are entering into with the insurance company. It includes:

  • How much insurance coverage you have and how it applies
  • The plans offered – depending on your insurer, this section may explain all the various options covered under that policy; single trip, multi-trip, supplemental top up coverage. Make sure you understand which of these apply to you.
  • When your coverage begins and when it ends. This is especially important in situations where your travel plans might change.

Benefits: This section provides a list of everything you’re covered for under the policy, including any monetary limits for each. Read it carefully. There may be things here you were not aware you were covered for, and there may also be conditions you need to be aware of. For example, many benefits require pre-approval from the insurer before you receive medical care.

Exclusions/Limitations and restrictions: Having a policy does not necessarily mean you have coverage for everything. Having an understanding of what you are not covered for will greatly reduce any issues should you have a claim. It can also equip you to look into other options if one of these exclusions is of particular concern.

Claims procedures: In this section you’ll learn what to do in the event of a claim – who to call, and when, the type of documentation you need to submit, what receipts you need to keep, and so forth. You’ll also find useful phone numbers and addresses to reach the claims administrator, how much time you have to file a claim, and how claims are paid. 

Definitions: A read through of this section will increase the likelihood that you understand exactly what was meant in other parts of the policy document. It’s usually not a large section, but includes key words and phrases like “emergency” and “injury” that should be understood in the context of the policy document. These words will have very precise meanings that may not be exactly the same as how they are used in everyday conversation.

It’s important that you take the time to read and understand what’s in your policy. If there is something you don’t understand, ask an insurance professional for help. This will help you start your trip with the peace of mind, knowing you have the right coverage to meet your needs.

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