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Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

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(credit: istockphoto)

Is it worth getting travel insurance for your upcoming vacation? The short answer is that it depends. Some trips might seem obvious for travel insurance, such as an international vacation or an excursion where certain risks are involved, like visiting a country with travel warnings from the TSA or engaging in a dangerous activity like bull riding or worse yet, running with the bulls. But travel insurance is not always necessary, especially if you have similar coverage from your auto, homeowners or life insurance. Here are some pros and cons to determine if travel insurance is worth purchasing for your next trip:

Rebooking a Flight (Credit, Randy Yagi)
Rebooking a Flight (credit: Randy Yagi)


Last-Minute Cancellations/Trip Delays
There may come a time when a vacation may be cancelled, due to injury, illness, family emergency, natural disaster or a number of other reasons. Depending on the type of coverage, travel insurance can reimburse up to 100 percent of the cost of the trip. This is especially helpful if you're planning on taking an expensive trip that could cost you thousands of dollars if you're not covered with insurance. However, when considering travel insurance, it's important to know what is covered for trip cancellations. To insure yourself against a missed flight, there are also options to protect you from trip delays and missed connections.

Emergency Services Coverage (Credit, Randy Yagi)
Emergency Services Coverage (credit: Randy Yagi)

Medical Insurance
If your medical insurance doesn't cover services outside of the U.S., then it helps to have travel medical insurance. This is especially important for travelers with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. If you're planning a vacation overseas, you should check with your medical insurance to see if you're covered outside of the U.S. to avoid paying for duplicate coverage. If you have Medicare, you will not be covered when traveling to a foreign country. Therefore you may wish to pay for travel medical insurance or consider purchasing Medigap coverage through Medicare.

luggage - thinkstock
Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Damage or Loss of Personal Belongings
One of the worst experiences while traveling is having your luggage delayed, damaged or lost. Although major airlines have stepped up efforts in handling passenger baggage in recent years, millions of bags still get misplaced along the way. Much of the improvement can be attributed to the implementation of high baggage fees, thus reducing the number of handled bags. However, if luggage is lost, your airlines will require you to fill out a claim and you'll need some sort of proof of the value of your lost items. If you have a credit card, homeowners or renters insurance, check and see if you have coverage for incidents such as these before purchasing travel insurance. Of course, the best way to limit your chances of lost baggage is to not check baggage in at all.

reagan national airport
(credit: PAUL J. RICHARDS/Getty Images)

Emergency Evacuation
No one expects something like this to occur, but there may be a time when an emergency evacuation is required, such as a serious injury or natural disaster. If emergency services and/or medical treatment are necessary while traveling, the costs could be overwhelming, especially if it's an international trip. Unpleasant examples of an emergency evacuation include a helicopter rescue off a snow-covered mountain, air transport to an appropriate medical facility or a rescue at sea.

Related: How To Book Last-Minute Travel

Airplane Arrival (Credit, Randy Yagi)
Airplane Arrival (credit: Randy Yagi)


Added Expense to a Trip
Perhaps the greatest argument against purchasing travel insurance is the added cost to a planned vacation. In recent years, travel insurance generally averages between four and eight percent of the total cost of the trip. If you've purchased travel insurance but ended up not using it, you're out of the amount you paid for the coverage. Lastly, it's important to know that if you're 50 or older, your travel insurance will be more expensive than someone younger than you. It's also more expensive for someone 60 years old than a 50-year-old, and so on.

Homeowners Insurance (Credit, Randy Yagi)
Homeowners Insurance (credit: Randy Yagi)

Overlapping Coverage
It may be unnecessary to purchase travel insurance if your credit card company, medical, life and renters or homeowners insurance have provisions that protect you from medical emergencies, property damages or loss. If you're uncertain of what you're covered with, it helps to contact your insurance agent or medical insurance company.

Problems with Travel Insurance
You may have already purchased travel insurance, but does it include a "cancel for any reason" clause? If not, depending upon your situation, you may not be reimbursed for your travel expenses. Typical eligibility requirements are purchasing insurance within a specified time frame and canceling a trip more than two days in advance. Most importantly, you must understand exactly what type of coverage you have to avoid any problems on your trip.

Related: How To Find Last-Minute Hotel Deals

Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on
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