It's dangerously easy to forget about travel insurance. Between the stress of packing and the excitement of travel, something as unexciting as travel insurance is typically the last thing on a traveler's mind. On a recent trip, I forgot about it until I was at the airport, and had to use my phone to buy coverage at the last minute. The experience taught me that trying to crack the enigma of travel insurance using the airport's sub-par free Wi-Fi is no small task.
Buying on the fly shouldn't to be so hard. So I decided to time and test the mobile websites of some of the best names in travel insurance to find out which providers offer the easiest last-minute, mobile-device based buying experience.
For each test, I used the same scenario: A one-week trip to London for one 23-year-old female traveler during the first week of October, estimating a total trip cost of $2,000. I started my timer as soon as I clicked on the link from the search engine and ended when I was brought to the payment page. Times may vary depending on your trip details and Internet speed, but these results will give you a general sense of what to expect from each provider.
Allianz Global Assistance
The Allianz Global Assistance homepage opens straight to a form that lets you put in all your information and is easy to use. After filling in details about the trip, I simply needed to enter my home address before I was brought to the payment screen. I did fumble with the calendar buttons, which contributed to the overall time. However, it was easy to review the plan I was purchasing and Allianz was one of the quicker websites to use.
Price: $92 for Classic Plan with Trip+
Coverage: Trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical, emergency medical transportation, baggage loss/damage, baggage delay, travel delay, missed connection, change fee coverage, frequent traveler loyalty plan, 24-hour assistance
Time Spent: 2m 30s
The Berkshire Hathaway mobile website seems user-friendly, beginning by simply asking for your destination, but it's actually very time-consuming. For each question, a new page has to load, which can be frustrating if you're accessing the page through a weak Wi-Fi connection. You also have the option to sign up for an account by connecting through Facebook, however you still have to fill out a lot of personal information, so it's better to skip it if you are in a rush.
Aside from the this, the mobile site is quite clear and makes it easy to compare the prices of different packages, however finding specifics on those packages will take additional time.
Price: $73.35 for ExactCare plan
Coverage: Comprehensive coverage, trip cancellation and interruption, "many" emergency medical expenses, flight cancellations, missed connection, flight delays, and baggage issues
Time Spent: 3m 32s
On the World Nomads mobile site, pages load quickly and it is very easy to plug in your information, however if you don't already have an account you will have to take some time to make one. Even with that extra time factored in, I still found it to be one of the quickest websites to use. Their standard coverage plan is a little on the expensive side, but it specifically covers many and various plans from Aerial Safari to Zorbing. Overall, World Nomads is a great option for the forgetful adventurer.
Price: $74 for the Standard package
Coverage: Various adventure activities, medical emergency and evacuation, 24/7 Emergency assistance, trip cancellation, lost luggage, stolen or damaged gear including laptops and digital cameras, illness or injury
Time: 2m 25s
If you're looking for travel insurance with medically-specific coverage, you might turn to Medex, which offers plans specifically geared to medical and evacuation emergencies in addition to coverage for trip cancellation and lost baggage.
They offer a fair price, but their site is not at all mobile-friendly and takes you through several pages before you can make a payment. The text appears very small and you'll have to pinch and zoom in order to navigate the many forms it takes you through. The page to compare prices is overcrowded with information and not very easy to read.
Price: $32 for TraveMed Abroad
Coverage: Medical, medical evacuation and repatriation, 24-hour assistance, coverage for pre-existing conditions, trip cancellation, lost baggage protection
Atlas Travel Insurance
Though their website is friendly for mobile and easy to navigate, using Atlas Travel Insurance left me confused about exactly what type of coverage I was purchasing. I was brought to a page to that let me choose my deductible and maximum coverage (I chose the cheapest options), but I was never shown anything that told me what would be covered. I was also given the option to add crisis response, personal liability, and accidental death and dismemberment coverage to the plan.
Overall, their mobile website was easy to use but it would take a lot more time and research to figure out exactly what I was buying.
Price: $12.64 for a plan with a $0 deductible and maximum coverage of $1,000,000
Coverage: Because there was no clear list of what exactly was covered I turned to this list of available benefits on the Atlas Travel website.
Time: 2m 46s
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Read the original story: How to Get Travel Insurance in Under 5 Minutes by Jamie Ditaranto, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.