Travel insurance is one of those upsell services you see tacked on to your flight and hotel reservations when you book through most online travel sites.
You stop and think about it for a minute, but it can be frustrating.
Is insuring your trip worth the price asked? What are the odds you need to use travel insurance? Do you really need this type of insurance or is the travel company just looking to pad their pockets with your hard earned cash?
As is the case with most insurance questions, the answer to whether or not you need trip insurance is maybe.
Here are some pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Buying Travel Insurance
Travellers insurance covers the cost of your entire trip should a qualifying event cause you to miss part of all of the trip.
What your specific travel insurance covers will depend on the quote you receive. Policies can include a wide range of options: missed flights, lost baggage, serious illness, and bankruptcy of a travel company are just a few examples.
No one really likes paying for insurance, but when you need it you’re very glad you bought it.
This is as true of trip insurance as it is of homeowners, renters, and car insurance. Some travel insurance policies even offer serious medical assistance.
Imagine you’re in a country where the medical facilities aren’t up to adequate standards and your health insurance doesn’t apply. A premium paid to a trip insurance firm might offer you medical coverage or even a private emergency medical jet flight to pick you up and bring you back to the United States for treatment.
Cons of Buying Travel Insurance
The only significant downside to buying travel insurance is you will be out the premium you paid if you don’t file a claim.
If your total trip cost $3,000 and you spend $150 on travel insurance, you’ve added 5% to the cost of the trip. If you don’t have to use the insurance you are out the $150 — and you could have spent it during the trip instead.
Aside from being out the cash if you don’t use the policy (which you’re hoping not to need to use!) is your travel insurance policy may not cover everything you need covered.
Read the policy quote thoroughly and make sure the specific problems you might need to file a claim against are covered. If you’re traveling with expensive electronic equipment and the policy only covers up to $500 per item, it might not be the best fit.
Alternatives to Travel Insurance
If you are contemplating buying travel insurance for your upcoming trip but are worried about the cost, consider these alternatives.
The easiest method of covering any trip problems is to pay for them yourself as they come up. If your luggage is lost you will be on your own to replace the items inside until it is found or the carrier reimburses you for the loss.
If your iPad is stolen at the beginning of the trip, you eat the cost and move on.
Of course insuring your trips out of your own pocket is great until something disastrous happens. Can you afford an emergency private flight back from Africa to the US?
Credit Card Travel Insurance
Some credit cards offer trip insurance if you book the entire trip on the card.
The amount of travel insurance offered varies from card to card, but be sure to check over this option. Even if the offered coverage isn’t free — many aren’t — the cost can be significantly less than with other policies.
[Related: Great Credit Card for Travel Rewards]
Get a Policy On Your Own
The online travel websites surprise you with the trip insurance check box as you’re checking out.
If it isn’t something you’ve thought about before you suddenly find yourself having to make a quick decision before the great deal you found on your trip disappears. In this emotional state you are much more likely to say “Oh, sure, whatever — let’s just make sure we get on that flight!”
The lesson here is to shop around, just like you would with other types of insurance.
Should You Buy Trip Insurance for Your Next Trip?
There are many factors to consider:
- Can you afford to eat the cost of the trip if you need to cancel at the last minute?
- Do you have any family members that might become ill and need your assistance leading up to the trip?
- Is anyone on the trip likely to experience a medical emergency?
- Can you afford the coverage cost?
- Does your credit card already provide adequate coverage for you?
- Does the policy cover everything you need?
In my opinion travel insurance is worth buying if it is a big trip that would be devastating to miss out on if something were to come up.
For things like your honeymoon or a big anniversary trip, buying the policy can provide peace of mind that will let you truly relax while on your vacation. For smaller trips it depends on the cost of the coverage and how much you can afford to lose in case you need to cancel the trip at the last minute.