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Why It Doesn't Pay To Buy Travel Insurance

Vacation season is coming up, and, if you're lucky, you have an exciting getaway in the works. But on top of airline tickets, hotel reservations and sightseeing costs, many travelers have added travel insurance to their list of expenses. In fact, Americans spend more than $1 billion on travel insurance products each year.

But you may be better off saving that money for a hotel room upgrade or a few nice dinners out, says Consumer Reports. Most travel insurance actually just "duplicates coverage" that people already have. According to Bob Hunter, director of insurance for the Consumer Federation of America, "sophisticated travelers don't buy travel insurance."
That's because you're probably already covered — and you don't even know it.

Before buying trip cancellation/interruption insurance, baggage coverage, medical assistance coverage or accidental death insurance, check your current insurance policies and memberships. Homeowners and medical insurance will cover many of the problems you'd encounter while traveling, and credit cards and automobile clubs often offer travel protection for accidental death, lost baggage and rental cars.

It may make sense to buy additional travel insurance if your health is an issue and you are traveling overseas. Some health insurance policies, such as Medicare, won't cover you abroad.

If you do decide to purchase travel insurance, Consumer Reports recommends the following:

  • Before you buy, check your homeowners and other policies to avoid any overlapping coverage. These policies may already provide adequate protection.
  • Avoid purchasing policies through tour operators or cruise lines. If they go bankrupt, you could be out of luck. Instead, purchase through a third-party insurer such as
  • Bear in mind that not all credit cards offer protection, and that some are better than others. The American Express platinum card, for example, provides a hefty $500,000 in accidental death and dismemberment insurance.

    By Marshall Loeb

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