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Every time I’m about to book a flight online, a little window pops up asking me if I want travel insurance.
Considering I’m usually scraping the bottom of my piggy bank for whatever trip I’m about to take, the answer is usually a resounding “no.” But am I being irresponsible?
I decided to look into the pros and cons.
What does it actually cover?
Not all travel insurance is created equal. Consider which types you need before buying a comprehensive bundle. Skip the rest and save some dough.
Trip cancellation insurance: For a small percentage of the trip cost, you can protect yourself from losing money if your sister decides to have her baby three weeks early or you get stuck with jury duty the exact week you decided to get out of dodge.
Baggage coverage: Barely made that connecting flight because your first one was delayed? Your checked bag may not have slipped through those closing doors alongside you. Nothing’s worse than showing up in Tahiti with only the winter clothes you wore from Chicago.
Emergency medical insurance: In case you miss a step while jumping off a cliff edge into those crystal blue tropical waters, or eat something in Africa that your stomach has no idea how to deal with.
Medical evacuation insurance: Because sometimes those little mishaps aren’t so little, and you need to be transported to the nearest major hospital for treatment. (Cue scene from The Office of Toby in a Costa Rican hospital after getting into a zip-lining accident his first day.)
When to buy it.
Flight cancellation insurance makes sense if you have a long expensive trip booked especially if your connecting flights are through different airlines. Most airlines, especially budget carriers, won’t reimburse you for missed connecting flights.
When to skip it.
Trip & baggage insurance: One thing to consider before you splurge on travel insurance is that some credit cards have travel coverage built in. Give them a call. You may already be covered.
Before buying coverage for your baggage and personal items, check with your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance company. Your personal property may already be protected against theft anywhere in the world—but your insurance deductible still applies.
Emergency medical & medical evacuation insurance: If you’re traveling domestically, you might already be covered by your existing health plan. Check with your insurance provider, but be aware that some medical insurance policies require you to use pre approved (in-network only) doctors and clinics.
Read the fine print.
Repeat after me: document, document, document. To ensure your travel insurance reimburses your claim, keep receipts of everything. Doctor’s notes, police reports, photos, anything that will help show that your claim is legitimate.
For all you thrill seekers, know that some travel insurance plans exclude coverage for accidents or injuries that happen during higher risk activities such as throwing yourself off a bridge while tethered to a bungee cord. If you’re into hazardous sports, make sure you check that optional upgrade.
The U.S. State Department periodically issues warnings about traveling to at-risk countries. If you’re visiting one of these countries, your cancellation and medical insurance is unlikely to be honored, unless you buy supplemental coverage.
So if you’re about to engage in some Eat, Pray, Love shenanigans, make sure to cover your bases before you unleash your inner Liz Gilbert.
Why You Need Traveler’s Insurance
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Hey Nav.igator, just so you know, we have financial advisors reviewing our content, but our articles are only meant to be educational. Consider this friendly information, not financial advice (talk to a professional for that!).