Best Travel Insurance for Veterans

You’ve spent your entire career traveling the world, most likely to places you didn’t exactly pick. Some might have been fun, other’s you’d rather erase from your memory. No matter the case, you’re out now and you can go wherever you want. But, just because you’re in charge of your own destiny now, doesn’t mean you should start booking trips without a little travel insurance. Keep reading to learn more about the best travel insurance for veterans, how travel insurance works, and why you need it in the first place.

Photo Credit: U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. John A. Hamilton Jr.

Top Travel Insurance Companies for Veterans-Service Members

1. Travel Insurance.com

What we like:

  • Rated A+ and accredited by the Better Business Bureau
  • Travel Insurance Made Easy™ – quote, compare and buy in just a few minutes
  • Best price guarantee – compare policies with confidence!
  • Large selection of plans from top rated travel insurance providers
  • Tens of thousands of verified customer reviews
  • Safe & secure checkout with instant coverage confirmation
  • Licensed in all 50 states and Member of the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)

2. General Global Insurance

What we like:

  • Up to $250,000 in medical coverage and $1 million in evacuation
  • 24/7 support anywhere in the world
  • Extensive assistance services
  • Pre-existing conditions and cancel for any reason
  • Identity theft resolution services

 3. Travelex Insurance Services

What we like:

  • Rated A+ and accredited by the Better Business Bureau
  • Member of the US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
  • Customizable standard & comprehensive coverages
  • Four different benefit levels to choose from
  • Up to $500,000 for emergency medical evacuation
  • 24/7 travel assistance and concierge services
  • Free coverage for minors under their Travel Select plan

 4. RoamRight Travel Insurance

 What we like:

  • Rated A+ and accredited by the Better Business Bureau
  • A broad selection of comprehensive coverages to choose from
  • Competitively-priced plans with the option to upgrade
  • Convenient mobile app with location-based travel alerts
  • 24/7 customer support for domestic and international travelers

 5. USAA Travel Insurance

 What we like:

  • Discounts for military service on rental cars
  • They have medical evacuation coverage
  • Travel medical insurance included
  • They offer “cancel for any reason” travel insurance
  • Trip cancellation made easy for:
    1. Accident, illness, or death of you, a traveling partner, business partner, or family member
    2. Jury duty
    3. Traffic accident en route to the airport
    4. Death or hospitalization of your host at your travel destination
    5. Weather
    6. A bankruptcy of your travel provider
    7. Military Deployment / Reassignment / National Disaster
    8. Military Leave Revocation
    9. School Year Extension

 ** The only downside to USAA that stands out, are their prices. Yes, they provide strictly to USAA members, and they’re the most pro-military provider out there, but you can often get the same coverage for a better price elsewhere. However, dealing with USAA is typically easier than most companies if anything goes wrong.

What is travel insurance?

So what is travel insurance, you ask? It seems like this thing that’s always offered but rarely do people take it. And if you do, there’s all this fine print about what you can and can’t use it for.

Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, by plane, boat or car, there are various types of insurances you can take advantage of. There’s even a travel health insurance if you’re traveling abroad.

You might be asking, what’s the big deal with travel insurance. Most of us think, okay travel insurance. If my flight gets canceled, I’ll get a reimbursement. But, why do I need insurance for that? If my flight gets canceled, clearly that’s not my fault. Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret: if a flight was canceled due to weather, the airline is not responsible for any overnight expenses, such as a hotel or food. This is true. If they don’t feel like it since they can’t control the weather, they don’t have to reimburse you. Now, if you’re nice, will they give you discounted options, sure—that’s why you never yell at the person helping you. This is where things like travel insurance come into play, and this is also something I learned from personal experience.

What does travel insurance cover?

You can get travel insurance for cancellation either as a result of weather or because you just couldn’t go. Now, you have to make sure you read the fine print when you’re getting insurance, but in general, it’s intended to cover you when life happens.

Canceled Flights Insurance

Most of us think about travel insurance in terms of canceled flights. However, travel insurance can cover you for canceled cruises, tour packages, hotel rooms, golf trips and more. And if you’re a big traveler or your spending a lot of money on these trips, you don’t want to have to worry about paying for a trip you ended up not being able to take.

In most cases, your cancelation is covered through your insurance as a result of sickness, family emergency, if you’re called to jury duty, if your travel companion can’t go, destination was the victim of terrorism or natural disaster, you got laid off from work and can’t afford to go, or the company you’ve booked through went into bankruptcy. Of course, we don’t want any of these things to happen, but they do. And even though we don’t expect them to, again, they do. So, having travel insurance is wise, unless you enjoy wasting large sums of money at once.

Flight Delay Insurance

The second type of travel insurance related to flights will cover you if your flight is delayed, meaning you have to stay an extra night and need a hotel room. If you have delayed flights insurance, they’ll reimburse you for any additional nights or additional flight costs due to your delay. Don’t think this will happen to you? Here’s a nice little story that might change your mind.

Here I am, in my early 20s, in the middle of Peru. Now, the airport I was in, in Peru was not like that of the United States. I’m sitting there, watching the monitor as it says my flight boards in 30 minutes. Alright, America bound! Then I’m sitting there, 30 minutes later, and my flight disappears off the screen and a new flight shows up! What?!?!—Apparently, the plane never left the other airport due to mechanical failure, but no one was notified so they could make other arrangements.

Now, I’m not exactly fluent in Spanish, I mean, I can survive, but trying to explain that you have a flight in another country at XX time, and if you’re not on a plane in the next 6-hours you’re going to miss it in broken Spanish isn’t easy, especially when there are about 100 other people with the same problem, just as angry, with the same time restraints and waiting in line just like you.

Well, to shorten the story up a bit. I didn’t know anything about delayed flight insurance. I also didn’t know that if you miss a flight because of an international airline, they don’t have to reimburse you—this may be different for some airlines. So guess what happened? Yes, I missed my flight. Yes, I had to pay for a new one. But, had I of purchased delayed flight insurance, I would have been fine. But I wasn’t, instead, I got one flight for the cost of two.

Baggage Insurance

Travel insurance can also cover things like baggage. If your baggage is stolen or damaged, it can be reimbursed if you have the coverage—because “the airline isn’t responsible for lost, stolen or damaged bags.”

You can also get money to buy essentials while your baggage is being delivered if it was simply a matter of delayed arrival. Of course, some airline/airports will give you essentials if they lost your baggage, no insurance necessary. This happened to me in France, and they gave me a t-shirt, toothpaste, hairbrush, razor, and pretty much all the essentials to get me through the next 72 hours. Which was a good thing, because I didn’t have traveler’s insurance.

Medical Emergencies Abroad

Now, this might be a type of “travel insurance” you aren’t too aware of—or maybe that’ just me. Either way, here’s what I learned from personal experience. Medical Emergencies happen, and just because you’re on vacation doesn’t mean you’re suddenly immune to them. In fact, when you’re in a new environment, your body is introduced to an entirely new line of diseases it’s not used to, meaning your chances of an ER visit increases drastically.

If you’re like me, most of your traveling happened inside of the military. So, you never had to worry about needing any type of medical insurance for your ventures abroad. Luckily for me, my first trip outside of the US as a veteran was with the school I started attending—medical insurance was a part of our “study abroad package.” But, had I not known about it, my next trip might have gone very badly.

You see, anaphylactic shock is a scary thing. Anytime you’re losing your ability to breath is terrifying. What’s more terrifying is having that happen in a country where you’ve never been and you either can’t speak the language very well or at all.

And trust me, other countries aren’t like the good ol’ US of A. They will turn you away if you don’t have cash in hand or you don’t have insurance. Literally, they will let you die—it’s not their fault you were too stupid to get medical insurance for your travel abroad experience.

**This is not all countries, but there are countries out there like this.

Car Insurance

If you’ve ever traveled anywhere and had to get a rental car, this is probably not new to you. Part of your 75-page contract is your choice to either accept or decline rental insurance. Usually, this insurance is a liability or collision insurance—at least in my own experience. However, this is the one time that we will say, acceptance of this insurance depends.

For example, I do a lot of traveling—A LOT! So, I’m in a rental car pretty often. Therefore, as a part of my personal car insurance, I elected coverage for any rental cars I drive, and the exact same type of coverage I’d have if it were my own personal car. For the amount of traveling I do, I save more money by having this coverage through my insurance provider. Therefore, when I sign my rental car agreement, I decline all insurance provided by them. If I did not have coverage through my own provider, this would probably be unwise.

If you aren’t convinced about rental car insurance, here’s a little story for you, but about renting a trailer.

I had just come back from a deployment, and like most people, I kept everything I owned in storage while I was gone. Well, when I got back I needed to find a place to live in a new state and kept my things in storage until I found the perfect spot. About a month later I found a nice little apartment for my pooch and I, now I just needed to get my stuff there.

Typically, the military will move your things for you, however, I decided I’d do it myself—I quickly regretted that decision. I got myself a big U-Haul trailer, hooked it up to the back of my SUV, loaded her up and hit the road the next morning around 0200. Well at about 0245, without a single car in sight, a small car comes up behind me, rear-ends my trailer on the interstate and I landed in a ditch—I can only imagine they were fine since it was a hit and run, in case you were wondering.

Had I not had insurance coverage for my trailer, even though it wasn’t my fault, I would have been responsible for the damages to that trailer. I wasn’t expecting to get hit at 0245 on a weekday morning, but I did. And you probably aren’t expecting to get hit on your travels either, but you can. So, be smart, take the insurance option or make sure your personal insurance provider has you covered if you don’t select the company’s insurance.

24/7 Travel Assistance

Another type of coverage you’ll find through travel insurance is 24/7 travel assistance. If you’re in a foreign area and don’t know where the nearest hospital is, you can call for assistance. If you need medical transportation and don’t know how to get it, you can call for assistance. If you need special medical treatment, and there’s a language barrier, you can call for assistance. If you need transportation home, you can call for assistance. And finally, if you need an emergency prescription refilled, you can call for assistance.

Additional coverage that typically comes with travel insurance includes:

Cruise Insurance

Cruise Insurance is somewhat like flight insurance. However, often there are several things not included in your coverage that you might think should be.

Inclement weather

If you book a cruise and there is a downpour, you can’t get a reimbursement. You still went on the trip, so you’ve paid for it, rain and all. However, if you missed a trip or it was delayed causing you not to make your cruise, then you’ll be reimbursed.

You’ve changed your mind

I’m sorry, but this just won’t fly—or leave port—actually it will, just without you on it and without reimbursement. If you decide you don’t want to go on your cruise ship adventure, that’s not anyone’s fault but your own, and you’ll be left paying the bill on that one.

Finances

You’ve lost your job and now you can’t afford the trip, so you call to cancel the day before. Sorry buckaroo, but you’re still paying for that trip. It’s not their fault you got fired, furloughed, laid off, quit or whatever the case may be. So, your insurance won’t cover you.

Incentive Cruises

If you got your cruise as a result of frequent flyer miles, from your credit card rewards, etc., these are considered to have no monetary value. And since you didn’t actually pay for it, you aren’t going to reimburse for it. Maybe if you’re really nice, you’ll get to rebook, but don’t count on it.

What is covered? Well, if you miss your cruise as a result of family sickness, death, extended layovers, it’s the cruise company’s fault or weather caused a cancellation, travel insurance will reimburse you.

Is travel insurance worth it?

Finally, you’ve read all this stuff about travel insurance. You know what it’s used for, how it works, what it covers, but you might still be left asking, is it even worth it. I mean, you’ve been planning this trip to Greece for a year now, you’ve paid for everything, booked your hotel rooms, flights, even the fun activities you’ll do while you’re there. Which means, there is absolutely no chance of you not going on this trip! Well let me tell you something, you could be wrong. Just when you think, nothing will get in your way, it does.

So, here’s a fun little story for you, in case you aren’t convinced that you need travel insurance.

I got out of active duty a few years ago. My best friend—who’s still in—decided for here 30th birthday we’d do some traveling—to Greece. We booked everything nine months in advance, paid everything off and we were ready to go. About a week before our trip, the military decided to add parts of Greece to their “no travel” list. Now, this didn’t mean anything to me, because hey, I’m not in the military anymore, I can do whatever I want! But my friend, well she couldn’t. And it was a friend’s trip…I wasn’t going alone. Plus, she paid for half the trip, and I didn’t want to be responsible for her half if I went and she didn’t.

Anyway, it became a big issue, because neither of us had any type of travel insurance. We didn’t have refundable tickets, we got cheap rooms because we paid in advance with the “no refund” option, and train tickets and bus passes didn’t come with a refund option either. So here we were, going to be thousands of dollars out of pocket for a trip we couldn’t go on.

Just to make everyone feel better, she talked with her leadership and found out it wasn’t the part of Greece we were going to, so we ended up being very lucky. But, you can see how this plan started unraveling without us ever knowing it was possible.

Yes, of course, anything can happen while you’re in the military. Leave can get canceled, countries can be blacklisted, and emergencies can happen at any time. If you’re in the military, most companies are willing to help you if cancelations happen due to your service. But, if you’re a veteran like me, chances aren’t near as high. In this story, she might have gotten most of her refunds back. But for me, I would have been s**t out of luck.

So, is travel insurance worth it? Let me put it this way: it’s only not worth it if you’re willing to flush thousands of dollars down the drain and have nothing to show for it. If that’s you, then cool…but my guess is, it’s not.

You’ve been working hard your entire military career. You’re still working hard as a veteran, and no one wants to waste money, especially not that kind of cash. So, get travel insurance and save yourself the worry of paying for things you don’t get to use—because life happens, and you never know what that will look like.

 

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