Going places? Plan to travel with peace of mind.
By Cindy Youngcourt
I planned for the wedding. I planned for the honeymoon. But I also planned for our safety when my new husband and I traveled to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.
Shortly before my wedding on June 8th, there was a lot of negative news stories about crime in Punta Canta, all over cable news, online feeds and social media. In many cases, Americans were the unfortunate victims of these crimes.
My fiancé and I were aware of the potential dangers, so we decided to make some important preparations. First, we researched the resort thoroughly, comparing ratings across different travel sites and scouring the reviews for first-hand information from those staying at the resort. Second, we contacted the resort to find out what security measures they had in place, such as guards, cameras and background checks on their employees.
Third, we went to the U.S. State Department web site to check for any advisories for travelers to the Dominican Republic. If you’re planning a trip abroad, check these travel advisories even if you’re visiting a relatively safe foreign destination.
Fourth, together we discussed safety measures we would take ourselves: stay on the resort; be vigilant and aware of our surroundings; and do everything as a couple.
Perhaps it sounds like an excess amount of caution, but after all our research my fiancé and I still decided to honeymoon in Punta Cana. But there’s one last step we took—purchase travel insurance.
As a financial planner, I understand the importance of transferring some risk. In an investment portfolio, the transfer of risk is mostly done through diversification. We insure cars, homes and other valuables against the risk of loss. International travel is an expensive proposition with its own unique risks. That’s why it makes good financial sense to purchase comprehensive travel insurance, especially when travelling out of the country.
Here’s what you should look for in a travel insurance policy:
Medical expenses: It is suggested that international travelers get coverage for a minimum of $250,000 of medical costs. You should also check your current health insurance plan to see if your carrier covers medical costs incurred in foreign countries.
Evacuation coverage: A minimum of $1 million is suggested. If you need acute medical attention, you may find quality lacking compared with the U.S., especially in developing countries. If an emergency arises, you’ll want to get home to your local hospitals and providers for the best care possible.
Trip Cancellation or interruption coverage: Unplanned events may lead you to cancel your trip just prior to leaving or require you to come home early. Depending on the terms of your accommodations, you may not be eligible for a full or even partial refund and will have to forfeit the costs of your stay. Trip cancellation coverage can help offset these costs, but be sure to check the reasons that are covered; these can vary greatly between policies.
Theft protection: Your homeowners’ policy may cover the loss of personal property from theft, even in a foreign locale, but the deductible still applies. You may want to supplement this coverage with additional insurance as part of the travel policy. This can be especially important for electronics and valuables such as wedding rings (for which I made sure we had adequate coverage.)
Baggage coverage: Any regular traveler knows what an ordeal lost luggage can be. Going to an international port-of-call or airport can make this situation worse. Baggage coverage can compensate you for losses if your suitcases are missing or delayed, or if any contents are stolen.
You may find your credit card issuer includes some of these coverages and protections if you use their card to book your trip or accommodations. Before you shop for travel insurance, see what protections your credit card may offer.
Ultimately, the decision to travel to other countries is a personal one. When you’re planning a trip abroad, make sure you’re covered for all the possibilities that might happen. A comprehensive travel policy may be more reasonable than you think and offer you greater peace of mind.
Then, go on that honeymoon, romantic getaway or family vacation to make memories that will last a lifetime. We loved every moment of our time in Punta Cana. Safe and happy travels to all of you!