Should you get travel insurance for your honeymoon?

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Should you get travel insurance for your honeymoon?

You're deeply in love. The wedding is planned. The honeymoon is booked. But you may not be set for wedded bliss just yet.

Future honeymooners should consider whether they need travel insurance for their romantic getaway. Travel insurance can cover a variety of losses depending on the policy. Policies can include coverage in case a trip is canceled or interrupted, a medical emergency occurs, baggage gets lost, or any combination of these events.

Travel insurance can protect the investment couples make in their honeymoons. For example, many honeymooners might want to visit a Caribbean island for a romantic getaway after their wedding. Unfortunately, Caribbean islands tend to be susceptible to hurricanes, which tend to make people cancel their plans.

"If travel insurance was purchased before the storm was named, you will more than likely be covered," said Tim Anderson, a spokesman for RoamRight, a travel insurance provider.

For medical emergencies, many travelers assume their health insurance covers them. Many plans don't, though. If they do, they rarely pay for medical evacuation, which covers you if you get sick or injured and need to be transported home for care.

Do you really need it?

Travel insurance can cover honeymooners even if they don't leave the country. Trips anywhere can get canceled and there may be non-refundable costs. Insurance may be able to help. Even if couples have health insurance, travel insurance can help cover the deductible if something happens, said Steven Benna, a spokesman for SquareMouth, a travel insurance comparison website.

A honeymoon is (ideally) a once-in-a-lifetime trip, but it's also a big financial investment. Travel insurance can't stop unpredictable events from disrupting your honeymoon, but it can at least protect your investment, and then some. Medical evacuation can cost as much as $300,000, said Sheryl Hill, executive director and founder of Depart Smart, a nonprofit that educates people on how to travel abroad safely. Many people think medical evacuation is just the cost of a plane ticket, but with a serious injury, a medically equipped transport may be required, and it can be costly, Hill said.

Many countries also require up-front payment for healthcare, so an insurer that can pay the amount and provide help communicating in the language of the place you've been hurt is helpful, she added.

Planning ahead is important for a big trip like a honeymoon. But more time before a trip means more time in which something can go wrong, making a protection like trip cancellation more important, said Charlie Leocha, president and co-founder of advocacy group Travelers United. However, the decision to buy travel insurance depends on the couple and their itinerary. If you can eat the cost of your trip without issue and if your medical insurance will cover you in your destination, a travel policy may not be necessary.

What does it cost?

Policies with trip cancellation range from 4% to 10% of the cost of the trip, Benna said. The average cost is between $200 and $250. Aside from the length and cost of the trip, the age of the travelers and the level of coverage can affect the cost. The time of year can also factor in; costs are higher during hurricane season, for instance.

At the low end, a policy that only provides medical benefits without insuring any trip expenses can cost as little as lunch at a reasonably priced restaurant, Anderson said.

SquareMouth recommends most people get at last $50,000 in emergency medical coverage and $100,000 in medical evacuation coverage, Benna said. Travelers heading to especially remote areas should buy more.

Insurance for the cost of the trip itself isn't always necessary, since some accommodations and transportation may be refundable in the event of delay or cancellation, Anderson said. But travelers may want to pay for lost luggage coverage just in case. There's a lot of variety in travel insurance policies, so look closely when making a comparison.

"One policy that includes trip cancellation coverage may cover up to 100% of eligible costs while another may cover only 75%," Anderson said. "One may exclude pre-existing conditions while another may provide coverage for them. It's important to read the details of each policy to make an accurate comparison."

Also look out for any extra perks an insurer may offer, like a mobile app.

Doesn't your credit card come with travel insurance?

Credit cards do offer some travel protection, especially for lost or damaged luggage. But few cards offer medical or evacuation coverage and if they do, it's limited, Benna said. Even the most generous credit card policies cover only up to $10,000 in medical expenses.

Travelers can try stacking third-party travel insurance on top of their card's plan, Benna said. If your card only has cancellation or interruption covered, you can buy a policy with medical coverage. If the amount of coverage the card provides is less than the cost of your trip, a third-party policy can make up for the rest.

Before buying separate travel insurance, look carefully at your credit card agreemnt to see what it covers. Just remember you have to pay for the trip with your card to get its travel benefits. Also check your homeowners and renters insurance policies for what they cover while you're away from home. Your existing health insurance may also have provisions for your travels.

Buy when you book

You can buy travel insurance up until the day before you leave, but it's best to purchase right after booking in case anything comes up, Anderson said. RoamRight awards benefits to travelers who buy plans within 21 days of the first trip payment, including a waiver for pre-existing conditions. Only those who book that early can get a Cancel for Any Reason upgrade, which covers up to 75% of nonrefundable costs. That could be helpful if your spouse-to-be discovers you've been collecting your toenails for decades and justifiably leaves you before the honeymoon.

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If you decide you want more coverage after buying your policy, you can call to adjust after purchasing, Anderson said.

Call before you claim

If you do have an emergency while traveling, Benna recommends calling your insurer as soon as possible. Most providers have a 24-hour emergency assistance hotline, and some require a call before approving a medical evacuation. When filing, be sure to have as much documentation as possible, including cancellation notices from your airline or hotel, medical claims, receipts and credit card statements.

Read the fine print of your policy for exclusions. If you're engaging in risky activities like ziplining or parasailing or even drinking too much, some insurers may be able to deny you, Hill said.

Pick the right one

One more thing: If you can't go on your honeymoon because the wedding was called off, most standard policies won't cover you, Benna said. You would need the aforementioned "cancel for any reason" coverage, which is only available soon after you make your first trip payment and requires you to cover 100% of the trip while only reimbursing 50% to 75% of the cost.

"We only recommend that coverage if a traveler has a very specific concern that's not covered by trip cancellation," Benna said.

So make sure you're marrying the right person, if only to protect the investment you make in your honeymoon.

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Image: jhorrocks