InsureMyTrip Special Report Time-Sensitive BeneďŹ ts
“When is the best time to purchase my travel insurance?”
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One of the most frequently asked questions we get from travelers is “When is the best time to purchase my travel insurance?” Our stock answer is “Within 10-30 days of making your ﬁrst payment on your trip.” But why do we advise you to purchase so quickly, when your travel dates may still be months away, and you may not have all the ﬁner details quite worked out?
There are a few reasons for the rush, but the biggest one is that there are some very valuable travel insurance coverage options, known as “time-sensitive beneﬁts,” that are only available for purchase within a narrow window of time after your ﬁrst trip payment. In other words, the longer you wait to buy your insurance, the fewer choices you may have to protect all the things that are important to you. In this Special Report, we’ll look at the two most popular time-sensitive beneﬁts in detail and break them down for you, so you can decide whether or not they should be on your list the next time you compare travel insurance plans.
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Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) What does it do? Buying a travel insurance policy with CFAR is sort of like buying pants with an elastic waistband; CFAR gives you more ﬂexibility and breathing room, so to speak, than the traditional travel insurance policy. Whereas most travel insurance plans have a list of “covered reasons” and “exclusions” that dictate when and why you can cancel your trip and still receive beneﬁts, adding the optional CFAR coverage removes those restrictions. What’s the catch? There’s no “catch,” per se, but there are some things you need to know if you’re planning to purchase CFAR. First, obviously, it’s a time-sensitive beneﬁt, so it must be purchased within the 10-30 day guideline we mentioned above. (The time frame varies by provider and plan, so sooner is always better.) Secondly, while it does allow you to cancel your plans for any reason you choose, it’s not a 100% safety net – CFAR only reimburses you a portion of your pre-paid, nonrefundable expenses, which is typically somewhere around 75%. Thirdly, you have to know how to use it eﬀectively in order to get the beneﬁt. It’s likely that your CFAR plan will require you to cancel your plans and notify all of your travel suppliers, including the insurance company, no later than 48 hours in advance of your scheduled departure in order to claim CFAR. Cancellations after that time will have to meet the criteria laid out under the “covered reasons” and “exclusions” of your plan in order for you to receive any reimbursement.
You can, quite literally, cancel for any reason with this coverage, like deciding that you’d rather remodel a room in your home than take your vacation. It’s common for CFAR plans to require that you insure the full amount of your pre-paid, nonrefundable trip expenses (yes, down to the penny!) in order for you to get the beneﬁt should you need to use it.
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Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR), cont’d Who most often buys it? Travelers who: May be making a payment on travel arrangements to secure a spot or receive a discount, but aren’t fully certain they’ll take the trip Are considering a major life change, such as a new home purchase or new job, and think they may need to change their travel plans suddenly Who else should consider it? Travelers who: Will be traveling during pregnancy and may want or need to change plans suddenly Are planning to travel to or through an area of the world that’s prone to instability Are particularly concerned about outbreaks of illness (such as avian ﬂu near their destination), or other non-catastrophic but inconvenient disruptions Are particularly concerned about an event being cancelled or travel companions having to back out Would simply like the ﬂexibility to make their own decisions about traveling or not traveling, without fear of losing their entire investment
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Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver What does it do? The Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver is a bit like having a “don’t ask, don’t tell” arrangement with your insurance company. Under normal circumstances, if you happened to need unexpected medical care while on your trip, your travel insurance provider would retain the right to look into your medical history to determine whether or not the circumstances could have been related to an existing health problem. While the time period varies, some insurance companies will look as far back as 180 days prior to the eﬀective date on your policy (or in some cases longer depending on the plan or your state of residence). Pre-Existing Conditions Waivers can also cover the medical history of loved ones, even close family members who are not traveling with you, so it’s important to consider this type of coverage if you’re at all concerned about changing your own travel plans based on someone else’s health. Please keep in mind that, as with all types of insurance, travel insurance is intended to cover unforeseen circumstances, so having a pre-existing conditions waiver does not guarantee that a claim will be covered. For example, if at the time of purchasing a plan you have a loved one who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the insurance company may not cover any claim associated with that person as it may be deemed foreseen. What’s the catch? Just like CFAR, Pre-Existing Conditions Waivers are time-sensitive, so you have to purchase your travel insurance plan within 10-30 days after making your ﬁrst trip payment as well as insure all of your pre-paid and non-refundable travel expenses if you want to be eligible for this type of beneﬁt (again, down to the penny). Also, if it’s not your health, but the health of a family member that concerns you, be sure you fully understand the insurance company’s deﬁnition of “family” – this can vary by policy and provider, and may not include every dear relative you’d consider important enough to stay home for. You can, quite literally, cancel for any reason with this coverage, like deciding that you’d rather remodel a room in your home than take your vacation. It’s common for CFAR plans to require that you insure the full amount of your pre-paid, nonrefundable trip expenses (yes, down to the penny!) in order for you to get the beneﬁt should you need to use it.
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Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver, cont’d Finally, it’s crucial that we make note of the fact that you will not be eligible for a Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver if you’re not considered medically able to travel as of the date your insurance policy takes eﬀect. That means that if you’ve experienced a recent change in your chronic health condition, or you’ve just had surgery and aren’t cleared to travel yet (even if you think you will be cleared before you leave for your trip), you may not be able to purchase travel insurance with a Pre-Existing Conditions waiver. Who most often buys it? Travelers who: Are concerned that a chronic health issue may disrupt their travel plans Are concerned about the health of a loved one, and may be at risk of changing their travel plans based on how well their loved one is doing at the time of their scheduled trip Who else should consider it? Travelers who: Have had a change in prescription medication within the 180 days prior to purchasing insurance Have had a surgical procedure performed or have been hospitalized within the 180 days prior to purchasing insurance Have had any kind of medical tests done within the 180 days prior to purchasing insurance
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For more information about time-sensitive beneďŹ ts, or any travel insurance question you may have, contact our licensed Customer Care representatives