How to Save on Premiums.

Before you think of cutting costs, make sure you have a plan that fits your needs and your health profile. A cheap plan that doesn’t cover you when you need it is worse than no plan at all. The cheapest plan is the one that covers no pre-existing conditions, but that’s only for the healthiest of people. If you qualify, you will save.

Consider deductibles. A deductible is the part you pay for a medical service before the insurance kicks in. Most insurers offer premium discounts for deductibles-the bigger the deductible the bigger the discount-sometimes 10 or 15 percent. Maybe more if the deductible is really significant. If you’re traveling on vacation you can probably afford at least a $50 or $100 deductible. That will get you a discount of several percent. If you don’t get sick, you’re not going to have to pay it and you’ll still get the discount. Find your comfort level and go for it.

Think about waiving coverage for some pre-existing conditions that are not likely to cause you a problem. Most plans ask if you want all your pre-exists covered. Maybe you don’t need them all covered. Weigh the risks.

If you travel frequently, especially on shorter trips, consider an annual or multi-trip plan that allows you to make an unspecified number of trips of a certain maximum duration each year. One application. One fee. Cheaper than multiple single trips. But be aware that if you should have a medical emergency during one of these trip segments, that becomes a pre-existing condition for your next segment and you have to call your insurer and adjust the terms of coverage-and the premium.

Check out if your insurer offers loyalty discounts for repeat business year after year.

Some plans will allow discounts if you have been claim- free for a number of years, even if you have been insured with someone else. You’ll need a letter from the previous insurer verifying your claim free status.

Consider joining affinity groups—membership organizations, fraternal societies, groups such as the Canadian Snowbird Association which have plans tailored to specific needs and profiles of their members usually at favorable rates. The CSA, for example, not only has travel insurance designed especially for its members, but it offers a whole range of travel benefits that are worthwhile even if you buy your insurance elsewhere.

If you can break up your trips you might get a savings. Insurers charge more per day for longer than for shorter trips. Example, you will likely pay more per day for a 180-day trip than for a 60-day trip. Common sense says that the longer you’re away from home the more likely you may have a medical problem while away from home. Think about breaking your snowbird vacation into two 90-day trips instead of one 180-day trip. You might also consider an annual policy multi-trip 90-day policy, which would be cheaper than a single 180-day trip.