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Do you need travel insurance for your Thanksgiving trip?

A young woman looks pensive on a plane
Purchasing travel insurance can be a smart move if you have Thanksgiving travel plans. Getty Images

Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude and family gatherings and is often accompanied by long journeys to reunite with loved ones. Last year, about 54.6 million people traveled 50 miles or more from home for Thanksgiving, according to AAA — and it's likely that just as many, or perhaps even more, will have travel plans this year, too.

And, for many people, the travel plans will require a flight to other states — or even other countries — to visit family and friends. But airline travel can be stressful, and with the uptick in travelers and the ongoing issues with airlines, it could be even more so this year. After all, it's not uncommon for bags to get misplaced, flights to get delayed or connecting flights to be missed in the midst of the holiday travel rush.

That's why so many travelers opt to purchase a travel insurance policy to help protect against financial losses from these types of issues. But this type of coverage comes at an extra cost, so is purchasing travel insurance really a necessity for your Thanksgiving trip this year?

Start exploring your travel insurance options here to learn more.

Do you need travel insurance for your Thanksgiving trip?

The short answer is yes, in most cases, it makes sense to purchase travel insurance for your Thanksgiving trip. And, there are a few good reasons why, including: 

Canceled flights and delays

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel seasons, and the holiday rush can bring about various challenges, including flight cancellations and delays. Take, for example, the widespread travel issues that occurred during the days leading up to Thanksgiving in 2022. Last year, more than 4,200 flights were delayed on the Sunday prior to Thanksgiving, and 109 were canceled, according to FlightAware.

If you experience delays or cancellations this year without travel insurance, you risk financial losses from rescheduling flights, accommodations and activities. But travel insurance provides a safety net, offering compensation for these unexpected inconveniences, allowing you to maintain the spirit of Thanksgiving without the added stress.

Learn more about how travel insurance can benefit you here.

Lost luggage

Imagine arriving at your Thanksgiving destination only to discover that your luggage has gone astray. This situation can be particularly distressing during the holiday season when you've packed gifts, special outfits and other belongings. But a travel insurance policy includes coverage for lost, stolen or damaged baggage, ensuring you can quickly replace your essentials without breaking the bank.

And, if you think you can avoid these types of issues, think again. In 2022 alone, the mishandled baggage rate increased exponentially — climbing by 74.7% to 0.76 bags per hundred passengers, according to SITA's 2023 Baggage IT Insights report. In other words, there are widespread baggage issues occurring these days, and with the holiday travel rush compounding things, it may not be worth risking it.

Medical emergencies

Health issues can arise at any time, and being away from home doesn't make you immune to them. Travel insurance comes to your aid by covering unforeseen medical expenses, including hospital stays and doctor's fees. If your health insurance falls short in covering medical costs in your destination, travel insurance steps in to provide the peace of mind you need to enjoy your Thanksgiving trip to the fullest.

Trip interruption or cancellation

Life is unpredictable, and unexpected family emergencies or health concerns may force you to cancel your Thanksgiving plans or cut your trip short. Travel insurance ensures you don't bear the burden of non-refundable expenses, such as prepaid accommodations and activities. It safeguards your financial investment and allows you to attend to what matters most during these trying times.

Evacuation coverage

For those venturing to remote or adventurous destinations during Thanksgiving, evacuation coverage is indispensable. It guarantees that you won't be stranded in case of a medical emergency, providing coverage for medical evacuation or transportation to a nearby hospital.

When travel insurance might not be necessary

While travel insurance offers valuable protection, it may not be necessary for every Thanksgiving trip. Here are a few instances where you might consider skipping travel insurance:

  • Certain types of domestic travel: If your Thanksgiving trip is a short domestic flight or a road trip to visit family or friends, you may have fewer concerns about international flight cancellations, lost luggage or medical expenses. In such cases, your existing insurance coverage may suffice.
  • Low-cost trips: If you've planned a low-cost Thanksgiving getaway and are not prepaying for non-refundable expenses, the financial risk of cancellation or interruption may be relatively low. In these cases, the cost of travel insurance may outweigh the benefits.
  • Comprehensive credit card coverage: Some credit cards offer travel insurance benefits when you use them to book your trip. Check your credit card's terms and conditions to see if it provides the coverage you need.

The bottom line

The question of whether you need travel insurance for your Thanksgiving trip is often yes, at least in most cases. The reasons are clear, and they revolve around providing you with peace of mind, financial protection and the assurance that your holiday experience remains as joyful and memorable as you envision it. So, as you prepare for your Thanksgiving journey, remember that travel insurance is not just an option; it's frequently a necessary investment in the safety and enjoyment of your holiday.

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