It’s already shaping up to be an interesting year for travel. Images of flaming planes on a runway, volcanic eruptions and catastrophic earthquake damage are reminders to add travel insurance to your pre-trip checklist.

“It’s a smart purchase,” says Joe Cronin, CEO of International Citizens Group.

A survey of 90,000 Medjet customers showed 57% are more concerned about safety and security when traveling than they were last year. Topping their list of worries are political unrest and terrorism.

“People are exercising caution,” says John Gobbels, chief operating officer of Medjet. “But they still want to travel.”

They’re also on edge about rising costs and other uncertainties. According to Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s State of Travel Insurance research, more than half of travelers say a top factor for deciding to purchase travel insurance is rising trip costs — and fear of flight cancellations.

What travel insurance can do for you this year

Travel insurance is evolving to meet the realities of 2024.

“If 2023 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected,” says Curt Carlson, a senior vice president at Trawick International. “Just when the pandemic seemed to be over, the world threw us some new threats to travel. From volcanic explosions to the outbreak of two separate wars. Not to mention strikes, wildfires, tropical storms and hurricanes.”

Chris Carnicelli, CEO of Generali Global Assistance, says travel insurance had to meet that challenge.

“We’ve had to adapt,” he says.

For travel insurance companies, that means adding new products to meet the changing needs of travelers. Travel insurance is offering new coverage and updated technology to make things easier for their clients. But travel pros have some expert guidance for your next insurance purchase — and identify a few mistakes they can help you avoid. More on that in a moment.

How travel insurance is changing in 2024

Big changes are coming in 2024. For example, Allianz Travel Insurance plans to roll out a major upgrade to add functionality to its popular TravelSmart mobile app. The company is also expanding access to telemedicine services and will revamp its claims process, introducing a new portal that will make filing a claim faster and more intuitive.

“Technology will continue to improve travelers’ experiences this year,” predicts Daniel Durazo, director of external communications at Allianz Partners USA.

The product itself is also changing. Generali recently introduced new coverage options related to COVID-19, including trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage.

Generali’s COVID coverage is extensive. If you, a family member or a traveling companion are diagnosed with coronavirus before or during your trip — and meet the requirements for coverage because of your sickness — it will cover you for cancellation, interruption, delay, medical and travel support services. (Coverage amounts vary.)

What does travel insurance cover in 2024?

No question about it: Travel insurance has become an essential component of any trip. It offers travelers peace of mind and financial protection in case things go sideways. But what exactly does travel insurance cover in 2024?

  • Delays: Travel insurance often covers travel delays. It covers the costs of meals, hotels, and other unexpected expenses when there’s an unexpected cancellation or delay.
  • Lost luggage: Although lost luggage isn’t as common as it used to be (thanks to AirTags and advanced baggage tracking technology), travel insurance can compensate you for the trouble. The best policies also offer an allowance to buy clothing and other essentials when your baggage goes missing.
  • Medical emergencies: Pandemics, flu outbreaks and other medical issues have made this a big focus for travel insurance in 2024. The latest policies offer comprehensive medical coverage, including hospital stays, doctor visits, and medical evacuation.
  • Mental health: An increasing number of travel insurance policies now cover anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
  • Natural disasters: Whether it’s an earthquake in Japan or a volcanic eruption in Iceland, natural disasters can destroy your vacation. A lot of travel insurance policies cover these disasters (but check the fine print, because significant restrictions apply). Note: There are often exclusions for war and terrorism, so double check your policy before buying.
  • Personal liability: If you get into an accident, travel insurance may provide coverage for third-party liability claims while you are traveling.
  • Rental cars: Many policies cover damage or theft of your rental vehicle. However, this coverage is often secondary, and you will need to file a claim on your personal auto insurance first.
  • Trip cancellation and interruption: This can include a natural disaster, a personal emergency or political turmoil. Travel insurance may reimburse you for nonrefundable trip expenses if you can’t go.

Buying a comprehensive travel insurance policy can offer peace of mind for your next adventure. But read the policy carefully before assuming you’re covered. (I have a few more strategies for buying the best travel insurance policy on my consumer site.)

Pro advice for buying travel insurance in 2024

If there’s one thing the travel pros can agree on, it’s that you don’t want to skip travel insurance.

“One trend I expect to see is an increase in international travelers who believe they don’t need travel insurance,” says Cronin of International Citizens Group. “It’s a costly mistake for many individuals, especially when it comes to neglecting travel medical insurance.”

When do I need travel insurance?

“I recommend travel insurance on any trip over $3,000,” says Sira Mas, owner of Serentravelty.com.

She also recommends “cancel for any reason” coverage, which is more expensive but allows you to cancel your trip for any reason and recover between 50% and 75% of your prepaid, nonrefundable expenses.

Does it matter which travel insurance company I buy from?

Most certainly, according to Angela Rice, co-founder of Boutique Travel Advisors. “Choose a vetted trip insurance provider known for providing good customer service,” she advises. “Research reviews on how they handle questions during travel, whether you can access a live agent by phone or chat, and how quickly they respond to and pay approved claims,” she says. She recommends Allianz and Chubb, both of which she uses herself, but she says there are many other reputable providers.

Should I customize my insurance policy in 2024?

Little known fact: Travel insurance is now highly customizable. That’s what Stephen Roche, CEO of the site Mountain.co.uk, discovered when he bought travel insurance for a trip to Patagonia. “The coverage in 2024 is more comprehensive, reflecting the evolving needs of modern travelers,” he says. His policy included emergency medical coverage, trip cancellation and interruption, extreme sports coverage, and baggage protection, which was particularly important for his specialized gear.

His advice? Shop around, and don’t be afraid to customize your travel insurance in 2024.

Do I need to read the policy before I buy it?

Yes, says Melissa Morello, owner of Majestic Destinations. “People often read the coverage chart that outlines the payouts for each covered item, but they don’t look into the policy to see the conditions required for the payout,” she says. For example, her clients often assume trip delay coverage takes effect any time their flight is delayed and that they will automatically receive a payment. But often, the policy requires a flight delay of 4, 6, or sometimes even 12 hours in order to receive that benefit.

John Rose, the chief risk and security officer of ALTOUR, says failing to read the policy is the biggest error travelers make.

“They do not understand what is and is not covered,” he says. That’s particularly true of medical claims. Travelers assume their medical insurance will cover them outside the country, when it often doesn’t.

“The best thing you can do is to work with a travel advisor to purchase the right travel insurance for you,” he advises.

Avoid these travel insurance mistakes in 2024

As you can imagine, buying travel insurance will be fraught with challenges in this new world. Elad Schaffer, CEO of Faye Travel Insurance, says there are three main travel insurance mistakes he’s seen for policies purchased in 2024.

Over-insuring yourself

It’s dangerous out there, so there’s a tendency to buy too much travel insurance. Resist that temptation, says Schaffer. For example, if you’re going skiing or snowboarding, a whole-trip insurance plan is plenty — there’s no need to get the “extreme sports” add-on, unless you’ll be in the back country or taking a helicopter to the top of your run. You’re already covered under the basic plan.

Only buying insurance for international trips

Travel insurance is there to protect you when the unexpected happens, from emergency medical scenarios to cancellations and delays. “The you-know-what can hit the fan both domestically and abroad,” says Schaffer. Travel insurance can protect you if you have significant prepaid expenses on flights, hotels, and tours — no matter where you go.

Missing the window for full coverage

Buy travel insurance right after you make your first trip deposit, such as a hotel or flight booking. “You should always buy travel insurance within 14 days of that first payment to be eligible for all of your policy’s benefits,” he says. The timing varies by provider. For example, with Faye Travel Insurance, if you buy within two weeks of your initial trip deposit, you’re eligible for our full range of coverage protection, including pre-existing medical conditions.

What if you miss the window? It’s not too late, says Stan Sandberg, the co-founder of travel insurance site TravelInsurance.com.

“One of the common misconceptions people have about buying travel insurance is that once they decline the option with their airline or travel agency, then it’s too late to purchase it,” he says.

In fact, you can buy travel insurance until the day before your departure. And a travel insurance plan purchased at the last minute can still provide emergency medical and evacuation coverage, trip delay coverage and baggage delay and loss coverage.

Bottom line: It’s going to be an interesting year for travel, so you need to make sure your travel insurance is up to the job. Make sure you’re buying the right insurance at the right time — and, of course, at the right price. Read your policy carefully, and avoid unnecessary and potentially uninsured risks.

See you out there.

Related Posts