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Insurance cover for travel: should you take it out when booking or for the whole year?

Breakdown, luggage stolen, hospital stay: travel mishaps are not only unpleasant, but also costly. Which insurance is worthwhile and what should be considered before you travel?

20 June 2019, text: Esin Ezer, photo: Unsplash

A traveller with his lugguage.
Anyone who travels often or for long periods of time should have adequate insurance coverage.

Many travel agents and online booking portals offer insurance for individual trips. For example, anyone who books a flight or a hotel can take out cancellation insurance at the same time, for an extra charge. This covers the costs if the trip cannot be taken or has to be cut short.
However, this type of insurance has drawbacks: not only does it have to be taken out for every trip, but it is also usually relatively expensive. Anyone who travels frequently is therefore better off taking out annual insurance. This is valid for all travel and can be extended as desired. Helvetia offers «Assistance» travel insurance. This includes cancellation costs insurance, Assistance for persons and motor vehicle Assistance. As well as holidays and travel, all weekend trips, day trips, events and concert visits are covered for the whole year with Assistance insurance. Anyone who takes out all three types of insurance will benefit from a 25 per cent combination discount.

Travel insurance

Italy, Crete, Portugal – when you travel you discover the world. Helvetia's travel insurance provides you and your family with protection you can count on wherever your adventures take you.

Luggage stolen: what now?

Even if you keep a constant eye on your luggage, you can be outsmarted by cunning thieves within seconds. The local police should always be notified of thefts, so that they can make a report. This is usually required by the insurance company before it will settle the damage incurred.

Luggage is usually covered under the household contents insurance, if the policy includes the service “simple theft out-and-about”. A word to the wise: the sum of the damages covered varies depending on the insurance and may not be sufficient to cover all damages. For example, it you take an expensive camera with you, you should protect yourself against theft with a reasonable sum insured.

Pay attention on trips to risk countries

Even in countries that are generally known to be stable holiday destinations, the political situation can change quickly. In order to avoid unnecessary risks, you should find out about the current situation before the trip. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) provides up-to-date information about the necessary safety precautions in the different countries. However, trips to so-called risk countries are not worth it: anyone who visits a country that the FDFA explicitly advises against, will not receive insurance cover in the event of an emergency.

In certain countries, such as the USA, medical treatments are up to five times more expensive than in Switzerland. With basic insurance in this case, the medical insurance pays a maximum of twice the tariff of the canton of residence. The same applies to accident insurance. It is therefore important to clarify whether the individual cover for the treatment of the consequences of accidents and illnesses is sufficient or whether supplementary insurance is necessary.

The Assistance includes three types of insurance coverage: 
The cancellation costs insurance Covers the costs if a trip cannot be taken due to illness, accident or death
The Assistance for persons Is used if costs are incurred for search, rescue and recovery
The motor vehicle Assistance  Covers the costs of breakdown recovery, towing services or recovery of the vehicle, as well as rescue and recovery of occupants after an accident

Check benefits

It is important for travellers to clarify what incidents are covered before taking out insurance. For example, anyone visiting areas with active volcanoes should select insurance that actually covers the additional costs of extra accommodation, delayed travel home and other expenses in the event of a volcanic eruption.

Provided the two benefits “cancellation costs” and “Assistance for persons” are included in the policy, Helvetia Assistance covers the additional costs of travel home to the Swiss place of residence, accommodation and meals as well as cancellation costs. This not only applies to volcanic eruptions, but also earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, radioactivity, war, strikes and uprisings.

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