Watch CBS News

Why do you need travel insurance?

Commercial airplane approaching the runway for landing during sunset
Don't lose out on money or stress about a delay, cancellation or other costly incidents.  Felix Cesare / Getty Images

Travel insurance may not always be top of mind when booking a vacation – but it should be, especially if you're traveling abroad, during the holidays or planning to relocate long-term. 

However, the reasons to buy travel insurance are abundant and shouldn't just be limited to the above circumstances. Ultimately, travel insurance can help protect your trip for a variety of covered reasons. So, you won't lose out on 100% of your investment if something unexpected comes up. You simply file a claim, submit the receipts to your provider and get reimbursed.

Don't lose out on money or stress about a delay, cancellation or other costly incidents. If you're planning to travel soon, then start shopping for travel insurance policies today!

Here's why you should get travel insurance

As mentioned there are plenty of circumstances when you'll want to purchase travel insurance as a backup in case something goes wrong. Travel insurance can help with delays and cancellations, lost or damaged luggage and also medical bills (depending on the coverage).

Here are two key reasons why you should get travel insurance:

  • Medical-related coverage
  • Trip cancellation

Medical-related coverage

Let's start with a critical reason: Some countries actually require travel insurance, mainly emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage. Make sure you carefully review the country or countries you're visiting to see if they have any specific insurance requirements.

"The Emergency Medical benefit can make sure you aren't responsible for the cost of high medical bills in the event of an emergency during your trip. This benefit can cover the expenses you incur if you become sick or injured while you're traveling, including the costs of seeing a physician, hospital fees, ambulance services, and others," U.S. travel insurance marketplace Squaremouth explains, recommending travelers get at least $50,000 in emergency medical coverage.

Don't delay! Enter your trip and traveler information here to view dozens of travel insurance plans that include medical-related coverage now. Here are some of the best travel insurance providers available.

Travel insurance is something the U.S. also recommends in case a medical emergency pops up since Medicare and Medicaid likely won't chip in to cover your hospital bills in another country. "Even if a country has nationalized health care, it may not cover people who are not citizens," the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says.

The CDC stresses that travelers who are planning on spending 6 or more months in a foreign country or doing higher-risk activities like scuba diving or hang gliding should prioritize getting medical-related travel insurance. Note that pre-existing health conditions aren't typically included in comprehensive travel insurance plans, so make sure you buy a policy that includes that if you need it. A policy with pre-existing conditions is available 14 to 21 days after you make your first trip payment, Squaremouth says.

"Some people think they can walk into a foreign country with their health insurance card and get coverage, but that's not always the case," Kathleen Bangs, an aviation expert for flight tracking website Flight Aware, previously told CBS News. "Talk to your health care company and understand what your coverage is if you travel abroad."

Trip cancellation

Trip cancellation is usually one of the most popular reasons travelers get insurance. 

"Trip Cancellation insurance covers your financial investment in your trip, such as flights, cruises, or train tickets," the CDC states online. "Carefully examine the policy to make sure that it covers what you need it to cover, including cancellation if you or a close family member gets sick."

This type of insurance coverage has several benefits: flexibility, peace of mind, and financial protection in case you need to change your plans for a long list of covered reasons. In hindsight, it's relatively inexpensive, costing anywhere from 5 to 10% of your total trip expenses. Plus, you have time to weigh the benefits, as trip cancellation can usually be purchased up to 24 hours before your vacation.

Click here to compare vendors and comprehensive insurance policies with trip cancellation included.

Just remember this is not the same as the Cancel For Any Reason policy, which is a pricey upgrade, increasing your premium by around 40-50%, per SquareMouth. It also needs to be purchased well in advance — within 14 to 21 days of your initial booking date.

Bottom line

Travel insurance helps protect the cost of your trip and can also help avoid any hefty bills that come your way if an unexpected incident or illness strikes during your trip. Like health insurance, travel insurance should be considered a necessity in many circumstances.

Sure, travel insurance can also help alleviate any inconveniences, reimbursing you for things like food and other necessities during travel delays, lost luggage or stolen items (up to a certain amount) and beyond, but the priciest items like medical coverage and trip cancellation should be top of the list. After all, you should be focused on getting medical attention whenever you need it — not on thousands of dollars in medical expenses.

When choosing a travel insurance provider be sure to evaluate the cost, the types of benefits and coverage included and the company's reputation. Begin by comparing a variety of insurance policies all at once with this easy-to-use online marketplace.

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.