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Travel insurance can usually be arranged at the time of the booking of a trip to cover exactly the duration of that trip, or a "multi-trip" policy can cover an unlimited number of trips within a set time frame. Some policies offer lower and higher medical-expense options; the higher ones are chiefly for countries that have high medical costs, such as the United States.
Some credit card issuers offer automatic travel insurance if travel arrangements are paid for using their credit cards, but these policies are generic and particular care must be taken to take into account personal requirements. There are many travel insurance policies available in the market place, but care must be taken of what events are covered by each policy, and what exclusions, exceptions and limits apply, besides other issues.
The most common risks that are covered by travel insurance plans are:
Medical expense coverage can be per-occurrence or maximum-limit.
Some travel policies will also provide cover for additional costs, although these vary widely between providers. Almost $2 billion in travel insurance is sold each year.
In addition, often separate insurance can be purchased for specific costs such as:
Certain countries will require that you have purchased sufficient coverage should something happen while you are traveling to that country. Those governments do not want to be burdened with the costs of your medical care and will require you to have a suitable plan meeting certain minimum requirements.
The common exclusions in travel insurance policies include pre-existing medical conditions, unlicensed operation of a vehicle, travelling for the purpose of receiving medical treatment, elective surgery or treatment, or injury or illness caused by alcohol, drug use, or reckless behavior, including engaging in some sporting activities. Events arising from war and terrorism are usually excluded, but most policies allow trip cancellation arising from war or an act of terrorism that meets the policy's criteria.
Insurance companies issuing new policies will often exclude circumstances based on an ongoing event, such as typhoons or floods. Long-term exclusions may be announced for events such a Bali’s Mt Agung volcano being excluded from cover for the foreseeable future, (as of late 2017).
Some policies exclude travel to certain countries, or parts of countries, where a greater risk is expected. These determinations are often made based on official government travel advice from organisations such as the US State Department or the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs.
Travel insurance can also provide helpful services, often 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that can include concierge services and emergency travel assistance. Pre-existing medical conditions must be declared prior to the trip start date. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) entitles to treatment in state-run hospitals in EU countries and Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, but it is not a substitute for travel insurance.
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