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Travel Insurance: Buying Online

Caveats before Buying continued...

If the company is licensed in your state, it means the company has met the state standards for insurance. And it may mean fewer hassles down the road. "If the company is licensed, you should not have a problem making or collecting a claim," says Edelen.

To find out if the company is licensed, check with your state's insurance-regulatory agency. In most states the agency is the State Department of Insurance, says Edelen. Often, state agencies regulating insurance maintain a toll-free consumer hotline to provide such information or post it on their Web sites. For instance, California maintains both a toll-free number (800/927-HELP in some areas of the state) and a Web site (www.insurance.ca.gov).

It's important before calling to know the name of the company that underwrites the plan (usually noted somewhere on the company's Web page) since the license will be in that name.

In addition, travelers buying online should take the time to check out a travel health plan, just as consumers buying in person should, says Edelen. "Check the coverages and exclusions of whatever the policy is." Among the conditions a plan may impose: you must see a doctor from their list of providers.

Compare the premium you'll be paying to the coverage offered. "You may be paying a very high price for limited coverage," Edelen says.

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