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What is extended travel insurance?

Extended travel insurance covers anything that’s not medical-related, such as hospital stays. Although every policy is different, the most common types of extended travel insurance are:

  • Trip cancellation: In case you need to cancel your trip before departure, although it may come with conditions and designated “qualifying reasons.” The most common reasons are job loss or a death in the family.
  • Trip interruption: If you need to return home early for a qualifying reason, this will reimburse some of your non-refundable trip expenses.
  • Flight delay: When your flight is delayed by a certain amount of time (dependent on the policy), flight delay insurance will cover costs such as accommodations and meals.
  • Delayed or lost baggage: This insurance allows you to claim any items you need to purchase, such as clothes and toiletries, until you get your bag back.
  • Auto rental car collision/loss damage: This type of insurance covers damage or theft to rental cars, but it doesn’t come with third-party liability insurance (which would help cover costs if you are sued for bodily harm).
  • Hotel/motel burglary: Any of your possessions stolen due to a break-in can be claimed with your hotel/motel burglary insurance.
  • Travel accident: If you suffer dismemberment or accidental death while travelling, you or your beneficiary will be paid a lump sum.

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How travel insurance works

Like any insurance policy, you’ll only get paid out in certain situations. If you want protection with less conditions, you would need to purchase a policy that has “cancel for any reason” coverage.

Another example is flight delay insurance. Some policies might state that you’re entitled to compensation after a four-hour delay. With this coverage you could possibly get a meal and book a hotel room (if you’ve been delayed overnight) and then have the costs reimbursed. Make sure to keep receipts and also be aware of the limit that will be insured.

If you’re making a claim for flight delay insurance, your insurance provider will want to see an official notice from your airline that your flight was delayed. A screenshot of your updated boarding pass would likely be enough. If your insurance is being provided by your credit card, you’d likely have to show the statement in which your flights and hotels were charged to your credit card.

How much does extended travel insurance cost?

How much you’ll spend on travel insurance depends on where you’re getting your insurance from, your age, the value of your vacation, and how long you’re travelling for.

Generally speaking, if you’re under the age of 65, and have no pre-existing health issues, an annual multi-trip premium policy will cost you about $250. This would cover both travel medical and extended travel insurance for any trips you take throughout the year. If you’re going to purchase a travel insurance policy, be sure to shop around. Some of the more popular options include TuGo, BMO, and Manulife.

It’s also possible to get free travel insurance through your credit card. Many premium travel credit cards offer a comprehensive travel insurance package. The catch is, you must charge a certain amount of your trip expenses to your card — such as 75%— for your policy to be valid.

These rules can be a bit complicated if you’re using points to pay for your trip. Insurance policies will usually state that you need to pay any outstanding balance with a credit card that earns the same points for your insurance to be valid. In most cases this isn’t a big deal for consumers. However, it could be a problem if you’re redeeming points, but don’t have a credit card that earns the same currency and offers travel insurance.

Note that if your credit card offers travel medical insurance, there’s no need to charge your flights and/or hotels to the card for your policy to be valid.

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Travel insurance alternatives

Besides travel insurance, there are a few ways to protect yourself if you’re unsure of your travel plans.

Booking fully refundable hotels and flights is one way to make things foolproof. This can be better than travel insurance since you can cancel at any time and get a full refund. That said, you’ll pay a premium for this privilege, and it won’t help you if your bags are delayed or if your possessions are stolen from your hotel.

Some vacation package operators and resorts also offer their own type of insurance. For example, Air Canada Vacations has an optional CareFlex plan starting from $69. If you purchase this insurance, you can change your dates, transfer your package, or cancel with a full refund up to 21 days before you depart. Alternatively, you can get a travel credit up to three days before you leave.

Some people may think travel insurance is an unnecessary expense. However, like any insurance policy, you’ll be glad you have it if you ever need to make a claim.

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About the Author

Barry Choi

Barry Choi

Moneywise Contributor

Barry Choi is a Toronto-based personal finance and travel expert who makes frequent media appearances. When he's not educating people on how to be smarter with money, he's earning and burning miles and points for luxury travel.

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