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How to Read and Understand a Travel Insurance Certificate

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Before throwing money on just any travel insurance plan, it’s wise to make sure the policy fits your needs first! Otherwise, you might end up purchasing a policy that doesn’t have the coverage you might need for your trip. Here’s a simple guide on how to read a travel insurance certificate like our experts here at Yonder.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Why It’s Important to Understand Travel Insurance Coverage

Understanding a travel insurance policy is critical when it comes to purchasing the right coverage and the outcome of a possible claim. With seemingly endless options of travel insurance policies to choose from, we’re here to tell you there is a policy out there with the benefits you need. Becoming even just a little familiar with how to read a travel insurance certificate will help you more quickly determine if a plan fits your type of trip.

On the other hand, knowing what’s covered with a particular policy can help you better understand the outcome of a claim should something go wrong during your trip. For example, if you know where to find the covered trip cancellation events in the travel insurance certificate, then you’ll be more prepared to expect reimbursement of your trip costs or not.

Let’s go through some of the common sections you’ll encounter in most travel insurance certificates, even if from various providers.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Summary of Benefits

This is a roadmap of all the categories of coverage a travel insurance policy includes. You can usually see this on the first few pages of the insurance certificate in a table format with each category stated and the maximum benefit amount next to it.

Common categories found in a certificate include:

  • Trip Cancellation
  • Trip Interruption
  • Trip Delay
  • Missed Connection
  • Emergency Accident & Sickness Medical Expense
  • Medical Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains
  • Baggage and Personal Effects
  • Baggage Delay
  • Accidental Death and Dismemberment
  • Travel Assistance Services
  • Optional Benefits

Pro Tip: Remember that unless otherwise stated, the maximum benefits you’ll see in the schedule of benefits is the per-person amount, not the maximum amount for all insured under the policy.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Travel Insurance Free Look Period

Also usually toward the beginning of the certificate is where you’ll locate what’s called the “free look period”. This is typically a 10-14 day window of time from the date of purchase the provider allows you to review the insurance policy. Simply put, it’s a return policy on your travel insurance in which you can get a full refund of the premium if you find the coverage isn’t what you were looking for or no longer need. The kicker is that after 10-14 days of purchasing your policy, the premium becomes nonrefundable.

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blue outline of arrow pointing right General Definitions

You might notice that some words in travel insurance certificates are capitalized or bolded. That’s not a typo –those words are further defined for the sake of clarity and legal purposes. Not only do these defined words help a claims analyst process travel insurance claims, but they can help you understand the extent of how a specific benefit could apply to any given scenario.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Limitations and Exclusions

The list of exclusions is one of the more important parts of any travel insurance policy. You might notice certain benefit categories have their own exclusions along with more general exclusions that apply to all areas of the policy. Although these lists might seem extensive they can relate to more rare circumstances that don’t happen all that often.

Common travel insurance policy exclusions consist of:

  • Pre-existing conditions (unless your policy includes a waiver and you meet the requirements)
  • Suicide
  • War
  • Mental or emotional disorders (unless hospitalized)
  • Being under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Bodily contact sports
  • Pregnancy (except for specific complications and hospitalization)
  • Routine or preventative medical care

blue outline of arrow pointing right Claim Provisions

Usually found closer to the end of the travel insurance certificate, this section outlines the procedure on how to file a claim. It helps answer questions about when you have to file your claim and how. Some travel insurance policies will give you more details on what types of supporting documents you’ll need to provide with your reimbursement request as well. Filing a claim might seem tedious, but here are ways to have a more positive claims experience.

blue outline of arrow pointing right State Mandated Language

If you didn’t know, travel insurance is a federally regulated product. This means that benefits may vary by state. You might see unique language for specific states at the bottom of a travel insurance certificate.

This section will contain amendments to previously listed coverage that applies to certain states. If you are a resident of that state, it’s a good idea to take a quick look at how the insurance policy might pertain differently to you.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Where to Find the 24/7 Emergency Provider Information

Undoubtedly another important piece of information regarding a travel insurance certificate is understanding how to get immediate assistance during your trip. Emergencies happen (more often than you think!) and most travel insurance policies offer a free 24/7 emergency service provider to help you navigate them. Some policies include this assistance information at the very end of the policy and others cover it within the first few pages.

Regardless, travel insurance providers tend to make this easier to spot in the certificate with a larger font or a border. If not listed in the policy certificate, you can likely locate it in the confirmation email upon purchase.

blue outline of arrow pointing right Next Steps

It’s completely normal to still be confused even after becoming more familiar with how a travel insurance document is formatted. Travel insurance is really it’s own language! If you’re unsure of which policy to choose or you have other questions about travel insurance, the friendly humans at Yonder can walk through policy recommendations and help answer specific questions about travel insurance.

If you’re feeling more confident, get a travel insurance quote on Yonder’s site. You can use the filters and comparison plan to refine your search for the best plan for the type of trip you’re taking. Not sure what type of insurance you really need? Check out our travel styles to see which coverage categories you should prioritize. 

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