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Vacations are your time out from the daily grind—adding your favorite sports to the game plan is a winning combination. Thankfully, travel insurance plans can cover the sporty traveler and score points for protecting your gear.
If you’re planning a golf trip, a surfing adventure, or arranging a ski vacation, a travel insurance policy will reimburse you for sports equipment if it’s misdirected, lost, stolen or damaged.
Here’s how a solid travel insurance plan can come through in the clutch to reimburse you for sports-related items and other vacation expenses if the unexpected happens.
Staying in the Game with Travel Insurance
Sports-centric trips are popular any time, and they have additional appeal amid lingering Covid-19 concerns. Many active hobbies, like golf, tennis, fishing, backpacking and skiing, can be enjoyed while maintaining safe social distances.
“Enjoying recreational sports when you travel is gaining in popularity and if you’re traveling with expensive equipment like surfboards, snowboards, golf clubs, hockey sticks or racquets, an insurance policy with baggage benefits can help if the item is lost, damaged or stolen while traveling,” Daniel Durazo, spokesperson with Allianz Partners USA.
Coverage for sports equipment falls under baggage and personal items loss benefits included in some travel plans. If you buy a plan with this coverage, you’re compensated for sports gear that’s lost, damaged or stolen, up to the amount in your policy.
If you check your skis with your airline as you embark on your annual ski trip to Colorado, and your skis don’t arrive at your destination, your policy can help safeguard your investment. Likewise, if your surfboard is damaged in transit, and you realize it’s broken when you land in Maui, you can file a claim for reimbursement.
How Reimbursement Works
All policies have a maximum reimbursement amount that applies when you file a claim for lost items, says Megan Moncrief, a spokesperson with Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison site. This amount might be more than adequate if you have a tennis racket you bought for a few hundred dollars, but it might fall short if you have skis, goggles and a helmet that cost you thousands.
“The maximum benefit limit on most start policies may not be adequate to cover this type of expensive equipment, only offering a per person maximum coverage amount between $250 and $3,000 total,” Moncrief explains. “Travelers with expensive equipment, such as golf clubs or skis, should consider insuring their items through an additional source like their homeowner’s policy.”
You can also buy more coverage for pricey equipment through your travel plan.
Renting Sports Equipment and Travel Insurance Coverage
Beyond providing reimbursement for loss or damage to your equipment, some travel insurance plans include a “sport delay” benefit that pays for rental equipment, up to the policy amount.
For example, if you’ve scheduled a court time in the early morning on your first day of vacation and your racket is catching a later flight after being lost in transit, your policy can cover your rental cost.
“Having a policy that not only protects your equipment, but also reimburses you for equipment if you need to rent a replacement, means you can pay more attention to your form on the tennis court,” says Durazo with Allianz.
The amount of rental reimbursement will vary, depending on your policy. For example, the iTravelInsured LX Basic plan has a sports delay benefit of $2,000 per person. Allianz Partners’ OneTrip Premier provides $1,000 in coverage if you have to rent sporting equipment due to theft, loss, damage or delay.
Cancel for Any Reason Coverage for the Sports Traveler
One of the top reasons to purchase travel insurance is to recoup money you’ve put down if you have to cancel. If you break your wrist before a trip, for example, this will impact your ability to take part in sports activities.
“An illness or injury that prevents them from taking a trip as planned can be covered under a standard travel insurance policy,” explains Moncrief, of Squaremouth. Other reasons covered under trip cancellation insurance include death or illness, military orders, a job lay-off, a family emergency or severe weather.
There are, however, times when you may want to cancel but a standard travel insurance policy won’t cover it. “For example, the forecast at your destination may call for weather preventing their planned activities, like skiing or surfing, however this weather wouldn’t necessarily prevent the trip,” she clarifies. “If the purpose of the trip was to partake in a specific activity, and you no longer want to go, you would need a cancel-for-any-reason policy.”
If you want the greatest flexibility regarding your travel plans, you may want to upgrade your policy to include cancel-for-any-reason coverage. This add-on will bump your policy price by 50%. With this upgrade, you can cancel your trip for any reason, as long as you do so at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure. As long as you meet the requirements, you can file a claim to recover 50% or 75% of non-refundable trip expenses, depending on your plan.
Medical Expense Coverage
In addition to protecting your gear and your investments when you travel, you want to protect yourself, too. The best travel insurance companies include generous emergency medical and emergency transportation benefits in their plans. “This is essential in the case of illness or injury,” says Durazo.
A travel insurance plan with emergency medical benefits can cover the cost of your medical treatment, up to your policy limits, and your company can help arrange care. This is crucial to have when traveling abroad. Your stateside medical plan likely won’t be accepted overseas.
Your own health plan would usually pay for medical expenses while traveling in the U.S., with travel medical coverage paying out after those benefits are exhausted.
If you are skiing in a remote region in Switzerland, or golfing in Bermuda, emergency evacuation can literally save your life should you suffer a serious injury. But the bills might kill you without emergency medical evacuation coverage.
“Emergency medical transportation is also important when traveling out of the country,” says Durazo. “An air ambulance to the U.S. from the Caribbean can cost $15,000 to $25,000, – $40,000 to $75,000 from South America; $65,000 to $90,000 from parts of Europe and $165,000 to $225,000 from Australia. Medical evacuation benefits could cover these costs.”
Your travel insurance is a small price to pay to cover expenses that could be catastrophic should you need to personally pay for them out-of-pocket.
What’s Not Covered on Sporty Vacations
Not all activities and not all damage to your sport-related possessions are covered by travel insurance.
“Although many policies include additional coverage for sports equipment under the baggage and personal Items loss benefit, the standard exclusions that come along with this benefit still apply,” says Moncrief. “Be aware, things like normal wear and tear, deterioration, or items shipped as freight are commonly excluded from coverage.”
Also, some travel insurance plans exclude coverage for “extreme” activities and certain sports. For example, scuba diving and mountain climbing may not be covered. If you are partaking in adventure activities, consider a policy geared towards adventure enthusiasts that also has higher benefit limits compared to standard plans.
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.