Watch CBS News

Is travel insurance important this holiday season?

Travel insurance can financially protect against holiday travel issues like flight cancellations and luggage delays. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The winter holiday season tends to be a busy travel period as people book flights to visit family and friends, reserve hotels for winter getaways and more. This year looks like it will be no exception. The 2023 Thanksgiving travel period alone looks like it could be the busiest on record. 

Now, as we round the corner into the winter holidays such as Christmas and New Year's, many travelers may be worried about what all these crowds will mean in terms of airport delays, flight cancellations and other issues like inclement weather preventing them from reaching their driving destinations.

To protect against these types of risks, you can turn to travel insurance, which many experts recommend getting, especially for nonrefundable travel purchases. The exact terms of travel insurance coverage can vary significantly depending on the situation, but in general, it can help you avoid losing or wasting money due to travel mishaps.

"Travel insurance is always important, regardless of if it's the holiday season or not. But during the holidays you're far more likely to experience flight delays or cancellations," notes Kendyl Grender, owner at Kendyl Travels.

Below, we'll take a look at some of the top reasons to consider travel insurance this holiday season. Explore your travel insurance options online now.

Is travel insurance important this holiday season?

Travel insurance can be of particular help this time of year, thanks to the financial protection it can provide against the following items:

Flight delays or cancellations

While airlines might give you some compensation for flight delays or cancellations, it depends on the circumstances. A winter storm, for example, could alter your travel schedule without the airline having to compensate you. But travel insurance could help, especially if you need the money to make new plans.

"The risk of flight delays and cancellations are higher during this season due to many contributing factors, and insurance can provide trip delay and cancellation benefits," says Andrew Jernigan, CEO at Insured Nomads.

Learn more about how travel insurance can protect against flight delays and cancellations here.

Medical issues

Travel insurance can also help if you have medical issues over the holidays. This aspect of travel insurance might be an add-on to standard coverage, but it can be a crucial way to protect your health and finances, especially if traveling outside the country. Skiing in a foreign country might sound like an exciting trip, but if you get hurt, it can quickly turn into a disaster without insurance.

"Medical needs occur from injuries, and your health insurance generally does not cover you when outside the country," says Jernigan. "The financial burden from a broken bone when snowboarding or surfing, or an evacuation due to getting you to adequate care, can be an expensive bill if you do not have coverage to carry that financial risk."

Plus, travel insurance might help if you need to cancel ahead of time due to health issues.

"I recommend travel insurance that goes beyond trip interruptions and cancellations, and go for travel health insurance, too. This will protect you if some unfortunate event happens while abroad, like a severe illness. But it will also protect you if you need to cancel your trip last-minute due to the flu or Covid," says Grender.

But be sure to check the details of any travel insurance you purchase to make sure these issues are included. Or, you might want to buy a more comprehensive policy like one that has "Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) coverage, which enables you to simply nix your trip for any reason, including simply not wanting to go," says Elad Schaffer, co-founder and CEO at Faye Travel Insurance.

Luggage issues

Busy travel periods like the holidays might also coincide with more luggage issues like lost or delayed bags. And perhaps an airline's coverage isn't sufficient for your needs, so travel insurance can fill in the gaps.

In particular, if you're traveling this holiday season with special luggage, like skis for a winter getaway or clubs for a golf trip, you might benefit from extra travel insurance, sold as an add-on to your main policy.

"If you're traveling with those items, read the plan details closely. This optional coverage covers the cost, up to a specified limit, for the rental of sports equipment in the event yours is delayed for a minimum number of hours," notes Progressive.

You can easily explore your travel insurance options online now.

How to get travel insurance for holiday travel

To get travel insurance, you can often start by gaining protection from a credit card used to book your trip.

"If you have the right travel rewards credit card you'll at least be able to reimburse expenses related to baggage, trip delays, and flight cancellations," says Grender. "Always know what credit card you're using and what coverage it offers."

In many cases, paying money in annual credit card fees can be worth it for travelers, due to the trip insurance often provided by these cards. "Usually the best cards for travel protections have annual fees but are well worth the additional expense for the protections they offer," adds Grender.

That said, your credit card might not offer you the full protection you're looking for, so you might be better off adding travel insurance. In particular, Grender recommends "adding a travel health insurance policy for usually less than $2 a day to help ensure any other travel changes will give you peace of mind."

Adding separate travel insurance can be a matter of searching for policies online to find one that fits your needs, or you might find that you're happy with the click-to-add insurance options offered within travel booking sites. But be sure to read the fine print to find a plan that works for you.

For example, "if you're traveling to locations that may experience severe weather, and are considering taking out travel insurance to protect your trip investment, make sure to check that your policy" covers areas such as "mandatory evacuations and government-ordered airport shutdowns" due to natural disasters, says Schaffer.

That said, you might want to be careful to avoid buying extra coverage that's duplicative or unnecessary.

For example, "if you want to ski or snowboard, and are taking out travel insurance, make sure not to over insure yourself and pay for things you don't need," such as a supplemental plan when these activities might already be covered by base plans, says Schaffer.

The bottom line

Travel insurance can be an important way to protect your finances this holiday travel season, amidst issues like potentially record-high numbers of travelers and other issues strikes.

Flight delays, flight cancellations, health issues, luggage problems and more can cause emotional and financial distress. But trip insurance can help you get back to enjoying your travels, rather than worrying about how you'll pay for things like booking a new hotel or buying new personal items due to travel setbacks.

"In short, travel insurance can provide peace of mind, financial security and 24/7 support when things go wrong," says Schaffer.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.