This blog post was updated on April 30, 2020.
1.) You’re in the middle of the jungle, climbing a volcano, when you fall and break your leg. 2) You prepaid your entire cruise and now you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly. 3) You’re a last-minute traveler with no plans set in stone but managed to book cheap round trip flights. Which of these types of traveler needs travel insurance? Determining if you need insurance for your vacation or trip involves weighing the pros and cons of having additional coverage, examining what kind of trip you’re taking, and ultimately deciding to gamble or just play it safe. Certain travel styles can benefit from coverage while for others it’s not completely necessary. Here are a few important questions to ask yourself in deciding whether to buy travel insurance or not.
Does Your Health Insurance at Home Cover You Abroad?
Arguably one of the biggest setbacks financially of travel can be medical costs incurred abroad. Some health plans that cover you while you’re home also offer some degree of coverage when you travel. Before you buy travel insurance, check with your current health policy to see if the fine print actually covers you abroad for medical services. Some health plans will only cover you at certain facilities depending on where you are. You’ll want to have a list of those hospitals and doctors when you travel just in case. If your health insurance doesn’t cover you abroad, travel insurance might be a good idea as policies often cover emergency medical services, emergency medical transportation, and even death.
Are You Pre-Paying for Hotels, Car Rentals, Etc.?
Prepaid reservations can be nice, as you don’t have to worry about paying for hotels and tours as you travel. However, prepaid reservations can also be risky if your trip gets delayed or canceled. If you have everything booked and paid for, travel insurance might be worth the cost. Policies often cover a certain amount of cash for trip cancellation and trip interruptions, reimbursing you of unused portions of your trip for specified reasons. However, if you have no plans and are flying by the seat of your pants, travel insurance is probably not worth it in your case. Last-minute travelers often find coverage useless, as they haven’t really paid for anything yet.
Does Your Credit Card Cover You?
No one likes to pay for the same service twice, including when it comes to travel insurance. You might be doubly covered if you purchase travel insurance AND use your credit card. Some credit cards offer travel insurance policies for delays, cancellations, and lost luggage. While filing a claim with your credit card company might be more challenging than a travel insurance company, it doesn’t make sense to buy double coverage. Call your credit card company to see what their travel insurance clause entails. Keep in mind that the costs of your trip must be charged on that specific credit card to warrant coverage.
How Valuable Is Your Luggage and What Items Are You Carrying?
Some travelers pack their least valuable belongings. Others travel with expensive electronics and the finest fashions. Travel insurance can be your friend if you travel with expensive items in your luggage. In general, most policies will reimburse you for items lost or damaged in transit. Some will even cover baggage delays. Credit cards and airlines can also provide some reimbursement in the case of damaged or lost luggage but most travel insurance policies go beyond the flight and cover your belongings during your travels.
Are You Traveling Somewhere Extremely Remote?
If you are headed off to hike in the remote Amazon or you are volunteering in a developing country, travel insurance is almost always a good idea. If something should happen to you and you need to get home for medical treatment, most policies have some sort of evacuation insurance coverage. In the event of a serious injury in a place without proper medical care, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you won’t meet financial ruin trying to get home to be treated.
Does the Coverage REALLY Cover You?
While you might think travel insurance acts as a blanket for all travel hiccups and bumps in the road, that isn’t always the case. Travelers need to examine what a policy actually covers before purchasing it. Travel insurance is often packaged into varying degrees of coverage with varying costs. Some policies aren’t going to help you if you’re going bungee jumping or if you decide to go swimming and forget your cellphone is in your pocket. Even the cancellation coverage might have a time frame attached, and this won’t be of any help at all if you have to cancel a flight a few hours before taking off.
Are You a Worrywart?
If spending a little bit more gives you the peace of mind while you’re traveling, travel insurance is probably worth the small percentage of your total trip cost. Worrywarts won’t have to fret every time their bag isn’t the first off the carousel or when an unexpected family emergency is calling them home.
Deciding to purchase travel insurance on those round trip flights you’re booking can be a roll of the dice. However, if you ask yourself a few key questions, you can gain some clarity and peace of mind no matter where your itchy travel feet take you.
What’s your take on travel insurance? Do you buy it or take the gamble to go without it?