Your Travel Agent

In most states, your travel agent is required to be licensed to sell insurance. They’re certified by the insurance company and registered with the state. Your agent should be familiar with your trip, your travel habits and anything that might come into play to make a sound recommendation. They likely will deal with several insurance companies, rather than limiting themselves (and you) to just one. Ask them what company they recommend and why.

There are also coverage comparison Web sites like and that will allow you to compare policies to see which one best fits your needs, however, the recommendation of an agent that deals with this kind of decision daily is a far better choice. Some of the names you’re likely to hear are Travel Insured, Access America, or Travel Guard, and I recommend them all unconditionally.

The Travel Supplier

You can also buy insurance from the cruise line or the tour operator. However, these policies tend to be less comprehensive and do not cover supplier insolvency. Most suppliers are self-insured, which means that any claims are settled with their own funds, so in case of a catastrophe with several large claims, even a solid supplier could end up on shaky ground.

Online Options

Of course, like practically everything else, you can buy travel insurance online. The three mentioned above, Travel Insured, Access America and Travel Guard, all offer policies online. Answer a few questions, toss in a credit card, and you’re covered.

The major travel Web sites (Travelocity, Orbitz, Expedia and more) all include an option to add travel insurance to your purchases as well, often for a nominal fee. The choices and coverage vary, so be careful, and be sure to read exactly what is covered—and what isn’t—and make sure their insurance partner is reputable.

A Few Words of Caution

No insurance company has a problem with paying a valid claim. However, they do investigate all claims, and sometimes it takes time to get a settlement. Do not lie about your age on the policy, exaggerate the cost of the trip, or provide any information that is less than 100 percent true.

Pre-existing conditions are accepted for most policies as long as the premium is paid in full within a week or so (varies by insurer) of your initial deposit. So if you or a family member has a medical condition that flares up just before travel, you are covered.

You can also buy insurance at the last minute. You won’t be covered for any pre-existing conditions, and the premium may be a little higher, but for those that procrastinate, all hope is not lost.