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International Travel Insurance Hotbed

ti-8I was selling property/casualty coverage for a leading insurance company in the 1980s.  Vancouver, British Columbia hosted Expo ‘86 and every agent in the northern tier of the western half of the U.S. was writing international travel insurance coverage that would satisfy the border guards at Ports of Entry to Canada.

About halfway through Expo’s run I received a call from the offices of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Surrey, B.C.  One of my insured had driven to Expo, gotten confused in traffic, and run over a pedestrian.  He had proof of insurance, and just as a precaution I slipped a business card in with his documents.  Two things worked in my client’s favor.  The pedestrian recovered and there was a phone number on the card where I could be reached.

International travel insurance is an important often over-looked aspect to traveling and driving abroad.  These are some of the things to remember when you are driving in a foreign country.

Traveling to Another Country? Search for International Car Insurance. 1.)    Flexible Term Coverage:  Most people who travel abroad for just a few days will likely rely on public transportation for their sightseeing and vacationing needs.  If you are anticipating a stay of more than a week, however, a rental or borrowed car will likely be a part of the equation.  International insurance policies can be set up to cover you from the time that you deplane in a foreign country, until you board for the trip home, and no longer.

2.)    Split Policies:  Let’s say that you and your spouse are going to Paris for a week, but the kids are staying home.  Your international auto insurance policy can be added to your domestic policy so that the coverage that you have at home stays at home, but any important differences to auto insurance in France goes with you.  Viva La’ Difference’!  Viva La’ France!

3.)    Cargo Insurance: If your trip overseas is going to be longer than a month or two (or even permanent) you probably will want to be driving your own car.  Ask about cargo insurance if you are shipping your car. This is generally something that is extremely affordable and it will protect your car while it’s in transit. The auto insurance you’ve taken on the car will not cover any damage or loss while the car is crossing the pond.

4.)    Know the Nuances of Insurance in the Countries You Plan to Visit:  Many people intend to rely on their credit cards to provide rental car coverage if that is their conveyance of choice on foreign roads.  After all, that’s what they do here in the States.  Most of the time that works.  Occasionally it doesn’t.  For example, credit card rental coverage is not available anywhere in Italy.  These intricacies change all the time, so know what you need and where you will need it.

5.)    Insurance Only for One Driver?   This is an important one.  Many international policies will only cover one person driving one specific car. If you are traveling with your family, then only one person can be insured per policy. That’s very different than what you may be used to in the U.S., where the insurance will cover any driver. 

6.)    No Ocean? Usually No Problem:  As always, check with your carrier to be sure, but most domestic policies cover travel in Canada and Mexico.  Just be certain that you are carrying proof of coverage at all times.