It’s officially “the most wonderful time of the year.”
Americans are starting to hit the road as they venture by plane, land, and even by sea to visit with loved ones and share in the joy of the holiday season. It translates into big dollars spent on airfare, hotels and even rental cars in many cases. Any time an individual is booking travel, whether it’s at a busy time of the year or not, they’re often posed a key question when it comes time to enter payment for their order: do you want to purchase travel insurance?
Many people dismiss travel insurance as nothing more than just a money grab, but it can pay big dividends if you ever need to fall back on it. With the holidays and busy travel season here, we thought we’d take a look at whether or not travel insurance is really worth it.
Travel Insurance: Pros vs. Cons
Travel insurance is typically offered at a price anywhere from 5 to 10 percent of the total trip cost, and covers things like trip cancellation, medical expenses, lost luggage, or missed flight connections. Some policies may even cover anything that’s stolen while you’re traveling. That’s the nice thing about travel insurance: it can offer you peace of mind for when you hit the road that if any misfortune arises, you’re covered and won’t have to pay out-of-pocket.
But what about if you don’t encounter any misfortune in your travels? Then the airline or travel agent says “thank you very much.” What’s more is that many credit cards cover certain incidents that may occur during travel, so you could potentially be spending money on coverage that you don’t even need. Another consideration is the fact that some travel insurance policies still come with some fees, so it can be an issue of how much you’re really safeguarding yourself should you purchase it.
Do You Really Need it?
It depends. If you’re traveling overseas or outside of the country, it might be a good idea to at least tack on a medical policy if your health care doesn’t offer international coverage. But, if you’re just taking a weekend jaunt to the big city, you can likely pass on it. Here’s a look at some considerations when deciding on whether or not to purchase travel insurance:
- How far away are you going and how long will you be gone: Obviously, the longer you’re on the road, the greater the chances of something going awry. And we already noted some of the obstacles that can come from long-distance travel. These situations are where the value proposition of purchasing travel insurance can be good.
- Do you have any card member benefits? Like we said in the section above, certain credit cards will offer some level of protection. Make sure you contact any cards to understand the benefits before you purchase travel insurance, as there’s a chance you may already be covered to some extent.
- Check your auto insurance policy: Renting a car? Before you take out any additional insurance with the renter or travel agent, check with your own policy and see what your coverage is for rental vehicles. There’s a good chance you’re covered adequately.
- Check your medical policy: If you’re traveling abroad, make sure you check your healthcare coverage to see what — if anything — is included should you need to seek treatment while abroad. If your coverage is limited, it might make sense to purchase a travel insurance policy on such.
- Understand what you’re purchasing: If you do decide to go ahead with travel insurance, make sure you clearly understand just what it is — and how much coverage — you’re purchasing. For instance, a policy that covers missed connections might be a waste, as airlines often rebook you on other flights for no additional charge. Also, while you can purchase trip insurance through the booking company in many cases, you can also buy it from travel-specific vendors.
Enjoy your travels this holiday season, and don’t forget to consider travel insurance if you feel it meets this criteria.