Buying Travel Insurance: The How-To For Every Traveler

Buying travel insurance protects travelers

Buying Travel Insurance

So, you’ve booked your trip. This alone can feel like a monumental occasion. Travel is an investment in your future and your personal enjoyment, and you deserve it – but it isn’t without cost. Because purchasing a trip, or even just purchasing airplane tickets to a destination, is such a large commitment, it is important to stay aware of why buying travel insurance is recommended, and how to do it in a way that best serves your individual needs.

At Access Trips, we require certain types of insurance for specific destinations. In some cases, we require basic insurance that covers personal accident, medical evacuation, and repatriation expenses. In others, like in Cuba, more extensive coverage is not just recommended but a necessary element of travel with us. We recognize that this is an added cost for the traveler, but in the end, the security it provides is worth every penny.

Standard Trip Cancellation Insurance Vs. Cancel For Any Reason Insurance (CFAR or TCI)

The world of trip insurance is a large one and buying travel insurance can be complex. Policies exist to cover any part of or all of your trip and can vary in cost from a few dollars to hundreds. Let’s begin by stating that Access Trips does not receive any compensation from insurance companies and that all suggestions made in this post are just that, suggestions, to help you in your decision-making and the process of buying travel insurance.

According to Smarter Travel, insurance is essentially about minimizing risk. Here is their breakdown of the basic types of travel insurance you may be presented with:

  • Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance (TCI) covers the financial risks of (1) losing some or all of the value of prepayments and deposits if you have to cancel a trip due to sickness, accident, or a variety of other reasons, and (2) the extra costs of interrupting a trip and returning home early for those reasons. It generally applies both if something happens to you and if something happens to a traveling companion or a close relative who remains at home.
  • Medical travel insurance includes coverage for doctor payments, hospitalization, and emergency transport to a medical facility if you suffer an accident or illness while traveling.
  • Rental car collision insurance covers the cost of paying the rental company for damage to a rented car while it’s in your custody.

When looking over your options, you may be compelled to cover one or all of these areas. It often depends on what kind of trip you are embarking on and what financial risks you are willing to take. In a westernized country, you may feel comfortable checking in with your own medical insurance and their coverage policies for travel. Perhaps your credit card covers a rental car in some countries, and so you might avoid that extra cost. Or, and this is important for our Access Trips guests, you may be traveling to exotic destinations where the adventures and risks are a little more complicated. In this case, a much more comprehensive insurance policy for your trip is often a good idea or required.

TCI means a named peril is covered. What isn’t covered? Anything not found in the fine print, and so research is pertinent by the buyer! If your concern is hurricanes, for example, and a policy covers that, then TCI could work for you. But, if you expect all reasons to be covered, even the unanticipated ones (political unrest, personal health issues for existing conditions, etc.), you’ll have to look further to avoid the Gotcha clauses.


It’s incredibly frustrating to navigate most insurance claims, so obviously avoiding the need to is the best course of action. Make appropriately timed plans for your trip, be honest with yourself and your tour company about any pre-existing conditions you may have, and do your research on whatever policy you may buy – especially the fine print. Gotcha clauses are an evil component of buying travel insurance, but with preparation, you can avoid them.

More from Smarter Travel: “Although causes and payments for most forms of insurance are fairly obvious, the fine print of travel insurance contains numerous gotchas that can cause a lot of problems. Insurance companies pay experts to figure out ways to deny coverage, so if you don’t address the gotchas while planning a trip, coverage you thought you purchased may evaporate.”

CFAR = Cancel For ANY Reason

And so we arrive at CFAR, or Cancel for Any Reason insurance. As a travel company, we want our guests to be happy, comfortable, and have an unforgettable trip in whichever world locale they have chosen to travel to with us. While we recognize the added cost of large insurance policies, we also know that our guests like to travel with ease. In addition, 2016 offered travel professionals its fair share of worldly hiccups and reminders in regards to travel instability. Cuba, in particular, has continued to amaze and impress but has also faced the added challenges of growing demand without infrastructure (which is a major reason to choose a small group tour when you go, so those details are covered). In addition, the death of Fidel Castro and the recent U.S. elections reminded those in the travel industry why insurance policies can be so important. Has anything changed in Cuba? For all intensive purposes, no. Travel continues as planned and we continue to sell out trips into 2017, but we are glad to know that our travelers are covered with CFAR policies.

What is CFAR exactly?

When we say Cancel For Any Reason, we really do mean that. If you acquire this kind of policy in time and follow the fine print on execution, you can cancel your trip and you will re-coop most if not all of your costs. When you consider the cost of a large trip to an exotic location, particularly one with luxury accommodations and services, buying travel insurance to cover it all is well worth it.

Despite its title, there are exclusions (we know, we know), still.

  1. The CFAR coverage must be purchased within 15 days of the initial trip deposit (but you must also cross-check this with your provider as there are variations)
  2. The trip cannot be canceled less than 48-72 hours prior to departure (again, cross-check this detail)
  3. The full cost of all non-refundable, prepaid trip arrangements is insured at the time of purchase
  4. This type of insurance may still only cover up to 75% of the trip cost

What does this mean? The devil is still in the details, but incalculable risks like political unrest, storms, or family illness do warrant you the traveler to a refund of your costs in excess of other policies, regardless of whether the insurance company feels they are “bad enough,” as long as you’ve accounted for your costs properly.

Pay close attention to deadlines for buying travel insurance. Most CFAR policies require you to purchase within specific time frames in regards to travel purchase and trip dates (10-30 days). As stated above, that often needs to be bought just as you buy your trip. Travel Insured International is one place we recommend our guests begin their search for the right policy, just after or during purchase. Travel Insured has excellent policies that will secure the majority of your trip cost should it need to be canceled for…you got it…any reason!

As always, don’t hesitate to email or call Access Trips with any questions, and we look forward to traveling with you in the near future!

*At Access trips we require guests to have travel insurance that adequately covers personal accident, medical, evacuation and repatriation expenses. It is strongly recommended that the policy also cover cancellation, curtailment, loss of effects and all other expenses that might arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience occurring to the client. For tours to Cuba, it is required that the travel insurance policy cover cancellation, curtailment, loss of effects and all other expenses that might arise as a result of loss, damage, injury, delay or inconvenience occurring to the client.  And a “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) insurance policy is strongly recommended for all of our tours.