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If you’re planning some adventurous activities or extreme sports on your next vacation, it’s important to find an appropriate travel insurance policy. If you’re injured while taking part in certain fun judged as “adventurous,” you may not be able to file a travel insurance claim.
And what the typical active person thinks of as “adventure” or “extreme” sports might be very different from the definitions of “adventure” that come out of insurance company cubicles. Canoeing, hiking, paintballing? Some travel insurance plans exclude coverage for injuries from those. But, bowling? That could be a “no” as well.
The key is to be aware that certain activities and sports might be excluded and to work with a travel insurance agent to find a good plan that will cover your itinerary.
Why Have Travel Insurance?
If you have good health insurance and are taking adventures in the US, you may not need the safety net of travel insurance. But if you’re traveling outside the country, know that your US health plan may have little or no coverage. (The same is true for Medicare.)
Travel insurance is a way to secure travel medical insurance when you’re outside the US. It can also cover emergency medical evacuation—say, if you have to be airlifted to a hospital or even transported back home in case of severe injury. The extra costs of having a trip interrupted because you’ve been injured can also be covered.
Activities that are often excluded by travel insurance plans include:
- Dog sledding
- Hang gliding
- Rock climbing
- Scuba diving
- Shark diving in a cage
- Recreational snowboarding
Also, in case this is your thing, pigeon racing.
“These exclusions would mean any claims related to injuries or accidents from doing these activities would be denied,” says Carol Mueller, a spokesperson for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, a travel insurance provider.
Things you might not think of as sports—extreme or otherwise—can get caught up in the net of “adventure” exclusions by some companies, such as animal sanctuary/refuge work.
Conversely, activities that probably you shouldn’t do anyway can be covered if you find the right policy. For example, certain policies from Berkshire Hathaway, Tin Leg and Travelex will cover volcano climbing. And battleface, iTravelInsured and Tin Leg will cover bridge swinging.
What about Octopush? That’s where you play underwater hockey at the bottom of a swimming pool. You can get coverage for that.
An adventurous rock climber in Thailand. Hu Chen/Unsplash
Finding Good Adventure Travel Insurance
Adventure travelers should look for high limits of both travel medical insurance and medical evacuation coverage in a travel insurance plan, such as $250,000 or up.
“Increased medical evacuation coverage is very important for adventure travelers because a medical evacuation in a remote area could cost a traveler in excess of $100,000 out of their own pocket,” says Mueller.
If your adventure requires specific gear, take that into account when buying travel insurance. Look for a plan with coverage for sports equipment loss and delay.
“That way, if travelers’ specific equipment for their trip is delayed while traveling, they have coverage to rent similar equipment for the adventure travel needs,” Mueller says.
You can package in other coverage, depending on what’s important to you, such as trip cancellation, missed connections and baggage loss and delay. Trip cancellation insurance reimburses you if you have to cancel your trip because of a reason listed in the policy—such as illness or a hurricane.
For example, with the AIG Travel Guard Preferred or Deluxe plans you can get comprehensive travel insurance and add an Adventure Sports Bundle upgrade. You’ll get coverage for trip cancellation and interruption, medical expenses, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, trip delay, baggage loss, baggage delay and more. The optional Adventure Sports Bundle removes the exclusions for adventure and extreme activities.
To pump some extra gas into your travel insurance plan, add “cancel for any reason” coverage. This add-on lets you cancel your trip for any reason, not just the reasons listed in the policy. For example, maybe you’ve decided that a land yachting trip isn’t such a good idea after all. You’ll generally get only partial reimbursement (usually 50 to 75 percent) of the trip costs under a “cancel for any reason” claim, but it gives you more financial cushion to change your mind.
Data compiled by Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider, show that these plans cover the widest range of adventure activities (well over 300 each):
- Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s ExactCare Lite, ExactCare Value and LuxuryCare
- iTravelInsured’s Travel LX and Travel LX Basic
- Tin Leg’s Adventure, Standard and Luxury plans
- Travelex’s Travel Basic and Travel Select
Work with a travel insurance agent who offers a wide range of plans. They can pinpoint the plans that will cover your particular activities, customize a policy with additional coverage like baggage loss and price shop the options for you.
The last thing you want is to be laid up in South Africa with a kloofing injury that you don’t have the right insurance for.
Erica Lamberg is a personal finance and travel writer based in suburban Philadelphia. She is a regular contributor to USA Today and her writing credits include NBC News, US News & World Report, Business Insider, Oprah Magazine and Creditcards.com.