On my recent trip to Ethiopia and Kenya, I relished the fascinating historical sites, the unbelievable natural formations, and the quintessential safari experience. One thing I enjoyed just as much? Knowing that my belongings were protected, even though I was far from home.
Before leaving for this epic vacation, I called the number on the back of my insurance card to learn more about whether—and to what extent—I’d be covered while overseas. (You could also find this number on your insurer’s website or in your online account.) All insurance policies are different, so before your next trip, speak with your insurance agent or call your insurance carrier for the full range of details.
Here’s what you’ll need to know to determine whether you’ll be covered while you’re on vacation—whether traveling domestically or in a foreign country—and the steps you can take if you’re interested in more extensive coverage or if your insurer won’t cover you while you’re away.
Know What You’ve Already Got Going for You
Your current homeowners or renters insurance policy might already cover you for losses like theft while you’re traveling. If so, you might not need to do anything extra to make sure you and your belongings are protected while you’re out and about.
And if your policy includes off-premise protection, your belongings should be covered even when they’re not inside your home. When you’re traveling, this could lend a lot of relief if your luggage is stolen or your valuables go missing from a hotel room.
That said, there are still a few things to bear in mind before jet-setting carefree into the great unknown.
Figure Out How Much Is Covered
Usually, when it comes to losses outside of a home that you own, you’re covered for up to the full amount of personal property coverage on your homeowners policy (just check with your own carrier to confirm).
But of course, there are deductibles and limits to consider. Let’s say you have to meet a $500 deductible before your policy will pay out. If your luggage is stolen but it’s only worth $400, it’s probably not worth your time and effort to claim that loss on your policy.
Also note that not all items are covered to the same extent, or even at all. Many policies limit payouts on specific high-value items like cameras, computers and jewelry. Be sure to verify which of your items are covered by your current policy and to what extent—and if you want to ensure the safety of your belongings while you’re on the go, you might consider buying supplemental valuable items coverage.
If you’re depending on this coverage during your travels, be sure to choose a worldwide plan before spending the extra money.
Protect Yourself Against Liability
Your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy will often cover you for liability in case accidents happen while you’re traveling. For example, maybe you inadvertently break the dishwasher in your rental house. Or maybe you’re out golfing and you accidentally hit someone with your golf ball, and that person needs to pay for medical care.
Although you might not be able to replace broken items or pay for medical expenses on your own, your homeowner’s or rental policy can cover the damaged parties for your liabilities. If you’re planning to leave the country for vacation, double check with your insurer that your liability coverage works in foreign countries.
Double-Check Your Rental Car Coverage
In most cases, you’ll need collision coverage on at least one vehicle on your policy and you’ll need to be traveling within the United States, its territories, Puerto Rico or Canada for rental coverage to be provided through your auto policy.
If you meet both of these conditions, comprehensive and collision coverage may be extended to your rental vehicle subject to your deductible. If you have a multi-car policy with different deductibles, the lower deductible usually applies.
If you already have coverage, then it may make sense to reject the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) offered at the rental car counter. But before you do, you need to be aware of a few more details. Although damage to your rental car may be covered under your auto policy, the rental car company may require payment for any damages at the time the vehicle is returned.
Be sure to ask the rental agent about this since you may have to pay from $1,000 to the full value of the car if the car is damaged. You should consider your financial ability to handle this payment, even in the short term, before you reject the waiver.
And if your current auto policy does not have collision coverage, purchasing the collision damage waiver is a good idea.
If you’re planning to rent a vehicle while traveling abroad, you can contact the U.S. consulate in advance regarding the particulars of rental coverage options in the country that you’re planning to visit. You can also ask the rental car company about coverage options.
Have the Right Insurance Coverage
If you travel for work, you probably won’t be able to submit claims to your home or rental insurer. If you’re on a work trip and you’re required to tote gear along with you, those losses should be covered under your employer’s business insurance policy.
If you’re self-employed, however, don’t assume you’re covered for business property just because you’re covered for other kinds of items—many insurance policies limit the amount of coverage for business tools (e.g., computers). If you need to insure your own business items, you should consider a business insurance policy.
Whatever the case, make sure you’ve explored your options and have the coverage you need to feel secure during your journey. After all, who wants to worry about what could go wrong on vacation? Let your insurance company do that for you!
This article is intended to be informational in nature. Please contact your agent or carrier for your specific coverage implications.