Vacation may be a time to relax, but don’t let your guard down and lose your wallet. These 10 tips can help protect you from an unexpected loss the next time you travel:
1. Prepare for the unknown. Travel insurance helps protect your trip against forces beyond your control, such as a hurricane or a death in the family. The travel insurance program through Travel Insured for USAA members also contains an exclusive special provision to help protect your trip if you’re unable to go because of a military deployment.
2. Don’t advertise your absence. Announcing your vacation plans on Twitter®or posting beach photos on Facebook®may let thieves know your home is a prime target. Wait until the vacation is over to do your bragging. And be sure your spouse and children do the same.
3. Check your health coverage. An illness or injury could be devastatingly expensive if it happens overseas. If you’re heading outside the U.S., review your health insurance to see if you’ll be covered if you get sick or have an accident. Many plans won’t cover such costs — including Medicare, though some Medicare supplements do. Fill the gap with a travel health insurance policy.
4. Keep an eye on your money. Thanks to mobile apps and account alerts by text and email, you can keep tabs on changes to your bank accounts — a large transaction or a dip in your balance, for example. Set up the alerts before you go.
5. Make the right rental car move. Check with your insurer on your rental car coverage. Typically, if you live in the United States and are renting your car there, your rental will be covered by your personal auto insurance. However, that may not include fees, such as those agencies charge after an accident for not being able to rent the vehicle to another user. Check with your insurance carrier and credit card company to see what coverage they provide. Overseas, you’ll generally need to buy protection from the rental car company.
6. Guard your mail. An overflowing mailbox is a sure signal of your absence and gives identity thieves ample material to do mischief. Have the post office or a trusted friend hold your mail.
7. Alert your credit card company. A foreign charge on your credit card may arouse your bank’s suspicion, which could prompt it to freeze the account. Let your bank know you’re heading overseas. That advice also works for long-distance domestic travel.
8. Write down serial numbers. Record the serial numbers for your camera, laptop or other electronics. This will make it easier to file a claim if they are lost or stolen. For expensive clothes or jewelry, consider making a photographic inventory.
9. Check your coverage. Review your renters or homeowners and Valuable Personal Property insurance to make sure you’re covered if loss occurs while traveling, whether from a home break-in or stolen luggage. If not, consider upping your coverage.
10. Cover all your bases. If, like so many Americans, you haven’t gotten around to updating your will, appointing a guardian for your children, and securing the appropriate amount of life insurance, use your vacation as the extra nudge to take care of those things.