You’ve booked your honeymoon to Fiji or that retirement send-off to Stockholm and want to be responsible and purchase travel insurance for your next trip. Buying travel insurance can seemingly require a magnifying glass and a travel agent just to find out what you’re covered for. Muddied with legal jargon and fine print, travel insurance policies are anything but straightforward. However, if you look out for these key items in your policy, you’ll hopefully purchase a policy that doesn’t leave you stranded and penniless in Paris.

Cancellations and Interruptions

Flight status board for delayed and canceled flights

Most travelers purchase travel insurance as a safeguard for when trips don’t exactly go as planned. If you break your leg the day before your trip and need to cancel at the last minute, you’ll want to look for cancellation coverage in your policy, especially if you’re paying upfront for flights and non-refundable hotels. Cancellation coverage generally applies if you have to cancel your trip outright, but policies vary on what reasons for cancellation they will cover. If you want to be covered in the event that you miss a connection or need to fly home unexpectedly, you’ll need a policy that has interruption coverage. Some policies will let you purchase plans where you can cancel for any reason and receive a certain percentage of your expenses back. When shopping around, gain some clarity on what cancellation reasons are covered, what will be covered if you cancel or scale back your trip, and how much you will be compensated.

Length of Travel

You might have decided to purchase an annual policy for your round-the-world year abroad. Or, maybe you’ll be traveling on a few trips throughout the year and decide on an annual travel insurance policy. Travelers must beware as most travel insurance policies offered annually can place a limit on the length of travel. Some policies might only cover trips up to 45 days.

Medical Expenses

Person with a broken arm at an airport

Aside from cancellations and interruptions, most travelers purchase travel insurance for medical coverage. Before you sign up for an expensive travel insurance policy, you’ll want to see what your health insurance policy at home covers. Find out where you’re lacking in coverage on your policy at home and look for a travel insurance policy that has the medical coverage to bridge the gaps. Some will cover medical evacuations and emergencies, while others will not. Some have age and pre-existing condition limitations. Find out what’s covered and what isn’t and select the policy that suits your medical needs best.

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tourist getting pick pocketed

You’re often traveling with some expensive items, from laptops to cell phones to jewelry. Having to replace your stolen laptop in Thailand out of pocket could put a damper on your entire trip if you aren’t covered for theft under your travel insurance policy. Before you sign up for full theft coverage, see what the policy actually offers and also check if your homeowner’s insurance covers theft while you travel. If you aren’t covered on a homeowner’s insurance policy, read over the travel insurance policy you’re considering and look for what items a policy will actually cover, how they determine the value of these items, how much they will reimburse you, and what red tape you will need to cut through in order to be reimbursed. For example, some policies might require a copy of a police report if something is stolen. Others might need the serial numbers of packed items. And some could even place a cap on how much they will reimburse you for a stolen item or they might not cover certain items at all, like passports.

When You Buy The Policy

You booked your trip in March and you decide the day before you’re set to leave that you want travel insurance. Some policies will only cover you if you purchase them within a certain time frame of booking your trip. Be sure you find a policy that will cover you, even if you booked your trip months ago. Also, travel insurance providers can place limitations on coverage depending on when you purchase the insurance. For example, you ‘re supposed to go to Costa Rica but a hurricane is on the horizon. You won’t be able to purchase a policy after seeing bad weather in the forecast to then cancel your trip. While weather delays and disruptions are often covered by travel insurance policies, they must be unforeseen.

Adventure Sports


If you plan to scuba dive or bungee jump on your next trip, you may want to be responsible and get travel insurance to cover your adventurous activities. However, these activities are often exempt from travel insurance policies. While some companies will let you add on the coverage for an additional fee, most will not cover these activities at all. Check with the policy you are considering if you plan on partaking in a little adventure on your trip.

Do you use travel insurance? What do you always look for in a policy? Share your tips with us in the comments below.

About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at