Should You Buy Travel Insurance And Is It Worth It?
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Travel insurance makes sense if you want to protect the amount of money you’ve laid out for your vacation. But no one can blame you if you’re hesitant to add another expense to your travel budget after paying for airfare, hotels, meals and activities. Still, if you can’t afford to lose that money if something unexpected happens, travel insurance can be a smart investment.
The average insured trip cost is about $5,453, according to Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison website. The cost for travel insurance was $252, on average. You may be planning to spend much more than that for your dream vacation, or you may be going on a long weekend get-away that costs much less.Typically, the cost of travel insurance is 5% to 6% of your trip cost.
Here are some scenarios where travel insurance can pay off.
What Travel Insurance Covers
Travel insurance compensates you for trip costs and money you spend due to unforeseen events before and during your trip.
Trip cancellation travel insurance
Before you’re even able to finish packing your sunscreen and swimsuits, an unforeseen circumstance could force cancellation of your trip—for instance, if a tour operator goes out of business, you become ill or a family member dies. Travel insurance that includes trip cancellation coverage will reimburse the pre-paid, non-refundable costs of your trip in these kinds of situations.
Furthermore, if you, a family member or a travel companion becomes sick or is injured while traveling, the policy’s trip cancellation feature typically would reimburse you for the unused part of the trip. The trip cancellation benefit could even kick in if you, a family member or a travel companion dies while traveling.
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“Cancel for any reason” travel insurance
Note that you can make a claim using trip cancellation coverage only if your reason for canceling is listed in the policy as an acceptable reason. To broaden cancellation coverage, there’s an add-on known as “cancel for any reason” travel insurance (CFAR).
CFAR coverage lets you cancel a trip for any reason and receive partial reimbursement, as long as you cancel at least 48 hours before your scheduled departure. For instance, maybe you’ve opted to stay home so you can attend your high school reunion after all. CFAR coverage typically adds 50% to your standard travel insurance policy cost. Reimbursement is generally 75% of the trip money you lose.
Travel medical insurance for emergencies
Whether you’re canoeing in Argentina or taking a safari trip in Zambia, a medical emergency can certainly put a big dent in your travel mojo. It also can put a big dent in your budget.
Many U.S. health plans offer no coverage outside the country. That means you have to pay for your medical care if you get injured or become ill during your trip—and if you think it’s not likely, think again. Allianz, a travel insurance company, says it receives more than 4,000 calls a year from customers who are experiencing a medical emergency during a trip.
Travel medical insurance covers costs for doctor and hospital bills, ambulance service, medicine, X-rays and lab work, up to the limits in your policy.
Medical evacuation travel insurance
Imagine needing to be airlifted off a mountainside in Switzerland after a hiking mishap, spending a few weeks in a Colombian hospital recovering from a heart attack or requiring a flight back home from Jamaica to treat a broken hip.
It can cost an estimated $15,000 to $200,000 to be transported by helicopter or ambulance to a nearby health care facility for treatment of an injury or illness somewhere in the world, according to Allianz. That does not include the cost of the treatment itself.
Medical evacuation travel insurance covers the expense of being taken to the closest health care facility overseas that’s equipped to treat you, and it also may pay for someone to be flown back to the U.S. for advanced medical attention. Along with medical evacuation, a policy can cover the repatriation, or transfer, of a traveler’s remains to the U.S.
For example, the TripProtector Preferred plan from HTH Worldwide is one of the most generous in the industry, providing $500,000 for emergency medical expenses and $1 million for emergency medical evacuation.
Travel insurance for missed connections
Missing a connection while you’re traveling can be a costly hassle. Missed connection travel insurance reimburses you if you miss a departure for a reason listed in the policy.
This would compensate for a travel delay of, say, three, six or 12 hours caused by something like a mechanical failure on a plane or a storm that prevents a cruise ship from docking on time. The compensation typically would cover the cost of catching up to a tour or cruise.
For example, the Classic plan by TravelSafe provides $2,500 after three hours of a missed connection.
Travel Insurance for flight cancellations
Flight cancellations caused by bad weather conditions, like storms and blizzards are typically covered by flight insurance. However, with flight cancellations becoming more and more common, for a variety of reasons and complications, it may be worth buying travel insurance for flight cancellations
Travel insurance for flight cancellations can reimburse your forfeited, non-refundable trip costs if the reasons of cancellation is not covered by standard travel insurance.
Travel delay insurance
Travel delays are a headache for many travelers. A policy with travel delay insurance can reimburse restaurant and hotel expenses when a flight is delayed due to a reason listed in your policy, for instance bad weather or a mechanical problem. The daily amount of coverage usually ranges from $150 to $200.
For example, Trawick International’s Safe Travels Voyager plan provides travel delay coverage of $150 a day, up to $2,000 total, after five hours of delay.
The travel delay benefit could also cover costs for you to catch up to a destination or go back home, or even may reimburse you for unused trip expenses that are pre-paid and non-refundable.
If your luggage is lost, stolen or damaged during a trip, a travel insurance policy with baggage insurance can reimburse you. Homeowners insurance or renters insurance policies can also cover theft of your baggage and belongings.
Baggage insurance also extends to your personal possessions, so if your backpack gets stolen, you can file a claim. Be aware that baggage insurance compensates you for the depreciated value of your belongings and not the amount to replace your stuff with new items. Also, there are exclusions and caps on certain items.
In addition, some travel insurance plans cover baggage delays. This coverage can pay for items you need to buy, such as clothing and toiletries, to tide you over while you’re waiting for your luggage to catch up with you. Note that baggage delay benefits come with a specified waiting time before benefits apply.
Here are some examples of baggage delay coverage from some of the best travel insurance companies in Forbes Advisor’s ratings:
- TripProtector Preferred Plan: $400 after a five-hour delay Gold plan: $500 after a five-hour delay RoundTrip Elite plan: $600 after a five-hour delay Safe Travels Voyager plan: $600 after a 10-hour delay Select Elite plan: $500 after a five-hour delay
All in all, travel insurance is a small cost relative to the trip costs you can protect—especially when traveling uncertainties and surprises abound.
What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?
Travel insurance generally doesn’t cover losses due to reasons and circumstances that are within your control. It’s designed to safeguard your trip investment if unexpected circumstances derail your plans.
For instance, trip cancellation benefits only apply if you cancel due to reasons listed in your policy, which are unforeseen events beyond your control. That means you won’t be eligible to file a standard trip cancellation insurance claim if you simply change your mind about going on your trip. For that, you would need CFAR coverage.
You should review the fine print of your travel insurance policy and familiarize yourself with what your policy doesn’t cover because all travel insurance plans have exclusions.
For example, medical claims exclusions often include things like:
- Elective procedures
- Mental health care
- Participation in adventure or extreme activities
- Physical therapy
- Routine physicals and routine dental exams
- Routine pregnancy
Also be aware that travel insurance policies generally won’t cover your losses for a hurricane unless you purchase travel insurance before the storm is named.
Get Forbes Advisor’s ratings of the best insurance companies and helpful information on how to find the best travel, auto, home, health, life, pet, and small business coverage for your needs.
When is Travel Insurance Worth It?
Generally, travel insurance is worth considering if:
- Your trip cost is much more than you can afford to lose
- You are traveling internationally
- You are traveling to a remote area with limited nearby health care facilities
- You are traveling to a hurricane-prone country
- You have lots of pre-paid, non-refundable tours, day trips and activities planned
- Your trip involves connecting flights or multiple destinations
- You want to be compensated for Covid-related cancellations and medical issues when traveling abroad
- You want to be partially reimbursed if you decide to cancel your trip or return home early for any reason
When Is Travel Insurance Not Necessary?
You generally don’t need travel insurance if you’re not putting down large non-refundable trip deposits, or if your health plan will cover you at your destination.
For example, travel insurance may not be necessary if you’re taking a cheap, domestic trip. If you’re going on a long-weekend getaway and staying with friends with plans to see a show and do some shopping, you likely won’t have a lot of pre-paid, non-refundable expenses. And your U.S. health insurance can cover any medical costs if you get sick or injured during your trip. In that case travel insurance may not be needed.
You also may not need travel insurance if your credit card benefits provide travel insurance coverage. It’s wise to check with your credit card company before planning a trip so you’re aware of any applicable travel coverage.
Also keep in mind that some baggage insurance is secondary, which means you first file a claim with your airline or homeowners insurance. You may want to skip baggage insurance if you have secondary baggage insurance, you’re not packing a lot of expensive items and have a direct flight.
Should you buy travel insurance when visiting Europe?
We all know that feeling. You’re planning and booking your European adventure, and when you get to the end of a big-ticket purchase (like a round-trip airline ticket to Rome or a hotel room in London) a travel insurance box pops up and asks whether you want to insure your purchase in case something goes wrong.
As a budget traveler with years of experience seeking out deals, I can tell you that I’m always looking for ways to save money — not add to my expenses. So when it comes to most forms of travel insurance, it’s something that, in the past, I’ve mostly dismissed. It’s ironic, however, because I always spring for the full coverage on a rental car so that I’m not stuck footing the bill if someone sideswipes me in Paris… so why haven’t I been covering other aspects of my trip?
Taking another look at travel insurance
Lately, however, I’ve changed my tune on travel insurance. Do you really think your travel plans could change? (Um, yes!) What could possibly go wrong? (A lot!) Why spend extra money when you’re already spending so much on your trip? (Because it might save you a lot of money… and it offers peace of mind.)
Maybe it’s a combination of getting older and the rising cost of traveling to Europe that gives me a new outlook. Or maybe it’s the stories I’ve heard from my friends: trips canceled at the last minute, medical emergencies that made traveling impossible, luggage stolen or missing.
Trips, whether traveling alone or with your entire family, are investments. Travel insurance can protect that investment against unplanned travel disruptions.
What exactly are you insuring?
It’s very important to understand what travel insurance can offer before you even consider purchasing it. Travel insurance varies in its scope, but it usually helps cover expenses like lost luggage or passports, medical bills incurred while traveling, trip cancellation costs, and accidents that happen when you’re on the road. Categories covered may range from trip delays and emergency evacuations to hospital expenses and personal items.
The most important point: Every policy is different, with different aspects of your trip covered and at different amounts, and with different deductibles. Some things to consider when comparing your insurance options:
• Assess your personal situation and travel plans. Are you a beginner or “experienced” traveler? Is this an easygoing trip or are you into risky adventure sports? You should choose a policy that offers the coverage you need for your situation.
• Be sure to read the fine print. Yes, the price of the policy is important, but how much coverage does it give you? And what kind of deductible will you need to pay in order to use the policy? Look over all the numbers.
• Know what is and isn’t covered. When comparing plans, it’s easy to see what is covered, but trickier to ascertain what isn’t covered. Spend enough time when shopping to really understand the differences between the plans.
• Understand if your existing insurance applies to travel. Does your health insurance cover you when traveling abroad? What about your car insurance? What, exactly, is covered by your credit card? It’s important to understand what kind of coverage you’ve already got — and whether it extends to travel abroad.
• Always be prepared to pay for emergencies. Even with insurance coverage, you should be prepared to pay out-of-pocket expenses when traveling. In many situations, with trip insurance, you’ll be reimbursed for these emergencies after your trip.
Scenarios where travel insurance might help
Still wondering if travel insurance is a good investment for your trip? Here are some very common situations that an insurance policy may cover. (Note that we always need to say “could cover,” as it will depend on the plan you choose!)
Trip Cancellation: You have an anniversary trip planned to Venice, but you need to cancel your plans at the last minute for a covered reason.
Stolen Personal Items: You come back to your hotel in Amsterdam and realize that your smartphone is missing. Some policies will cover for loss, theft, or damage of personal items up to a certain amount.
Trip Interruption: You are on a month-long tour around Europe. In your second week, bad weather causes you to miss your flight from London to Barcelona. Travel insurance could help pay for expenses to rearrange your schedule and get you back on track.
Medical Emergency: You stumble and injure yourself as you’re wandering around the ruins in Athens. All or a portion of your medical and hospital expenses might be covered by travel insurance.
Emergency Dental: You break a tooth while dining at a pub in Ireland. Travel insurance could defray the cost of dental work overseas.
Evacuation Insurance: You are hiking through the Alps in a remote area and you injure yourself in a serious accident. Many policies offer doctor-approved evacuation services.
Why we like World Nomads
At EuroCheapo, we’ve partnered with World Nomads to give you an easy way to cover your trip. They provide affordable plans to more than 150 countries and respond to requests quickly with a 24-hour assistance hotline. (You can even contact them through social media.)
World Nomads offers plans for single travelers, couples, and families, so you can search for the coverage that best suits your needs.
Travel Insurance For Trips To Europe
Editorial Note: We earn a commission from partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect our editors’ opinions or evaluations.
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European countries are welcoming U.S. tourists with open arms—and Americans are eager to travel again. Europe is packed with history, beaches, chic cosmopolitan excitement and religious treasures. The destination is particularly appealing because there are ample direct flights and you can visit more than one country in one big trip.
If you’re making European travel plans, don’t forget to lock in travel insurance.
Canceling a European Trip
When you’re planning a great trip to Europe the last thing you want to do is think about canceling it. But planning ahead in case you have to cancel is smart, especially if you’re putting down plenty of euros on a vacation.
Trip cancellation insurance can return 100% of your pre-paid, non-refundable trip expenses if you have to cancel for a reason covered by the policy. Reasons generally include sudden sickness or the death of a close family member. Check your policy for the list of acceptable reasons for making a cancellation claim.
“It helps when you’ve spent a significant amount on making deposits and payments upfront and want to protect that investment,” explains Lisa Cheng, a spokesperson with World Nomads, a travel insurance company. Other reasons could include weather emergencies or terrorist emergencies, either in the U.S. or Europe.
Additionally, if you’re planning to go to certain countries in Eastern Europe, you should research well in advance any travel alerts related to increased incidents of crime or civil unrest, says Scott Adamski, spokesperson with AIG Travel.
For example, you might consider an optional upgrade like AIG Travel’s Security Bundle, which provides:
- Additional coverage in case of a security evacuation
- AIG’s Flight Guard (accidental death and dismemberment insurance)
- Coverage for trip cancellation/interruption due to riot or civil unrest
If you want the highest tier of flexibility to cancel a trip, consider upgrading your standard travel policy to “cancel for any reason.” This allows you to cancel the trip for reasons covered in the base policy, like fear of traveling or simply changing your mind. Reimbursement is usually 50% or 75% of trip costs.
To use this coverage you must cancel your trip at least 48 hours in advance. You can’t wake up and cancel the trip the day you’re scheduled to leave.
Also, the flexibility comes at a price: Usually about 40% more than a standard travel policy.
Trip Delay Insurance
Whether you’re going to one European country or visiting multiple destinations, travel delay insurance could be considered an essential coverage for visitors to Europe, especially if there are multiple legs on your trip.
“This benefit can reimburse you for covered expenses that you’ve had to incur because of airline or weather delays—for example, hotel stays, meals, taxis—up to a per day and total maximum benefit amount,” explains Cheng.
There are two things to remember about travel delay coverage: It usually starts only after a minimum amount of time (for example, six hours), and the delay has to be caused by a problem defined in your travel insurance policy, says Cheng.
Trip Interruptions in Europe
There’s another benefit to travel insurance that could potentially save you a lot of money: Trip interruption coverage. Because a trip to Europe often includes several stops, you likely have multiple deposits paid in advance, especially during peak travel months.
If you need to return home due to a child’s health emergency—or other reasons listed in the policy—you can use your trip interruption benefits to cover last-minute flight changes, and recoup any deposits, payments and expenses that you will lose.
Getting Medical Insurance for Europe
Any international should mean a purchase of travel medical insurance. While traveling in Europe, your U.S. health plan (including Medicare) likely does pay for medical expenses like hospital bills, ambulance costs or doctor visits if you require medical attention.
A robust travel insurance policy will provide medical expense coverage in case you get sick or injured during your travels. Make sure you purchase your travel insurance at the time you book your trip. If you have a pre-existing medical condition, some policies grant a waiver if you buy your travel insurance within two to three weeks of booking your trip.
European travel generally includes day trips and tours with lots of walking. There are also foods that may not be cooked or prepared in the manner you are accustomed to. If you suffer food poisoning from dining out, or trip over a broken sidewalk, travel medical insurance is your safety net.
Medical Evacuations on a European Trip
Europe offers world-class medical centers, but you may not be in close proximity to one if you have an accident or fall ill.
For example, if you are in a port city along the Rhine River and you develop a reaction to shellfish you ate at a waterside café, getting medical attention quickly is required. There may be a local health clinic there, but if you develop life-threatening reactions like organ failure, a large hospital is best.
This is where emergency medical evacuation coverage can make a huge difference. Your travel insurer’s 24/7 emergency assistance team can dispatch a medevac to take you to a hospital to treat your serious condition. If your condition is serious enough you could also be transported back to the U.S. for medical care. This is why it’s good to have a high level of emergency evacuation coverage.
Insurance for Baggage and Belongings
Any travel overseas comes with some risk. In Europe losing your passport is particularly inconvenient if you need to show an ID at the airport or on a train.
Your travel insurance company’s assistance team can help direct you to get a temporary passport and identify the location of the closest consulate, says Cheng at World Nomads.
While in Europe, it’s important to take precautions against crime. Petty crimes and the theft of personal belongings is fairly common, especially in tourist areas packed with people. Don’t draw attention to yourself with flashy jewelry or expensive clothing or accessories.
If you do become the victim of pickpockets or thieves, report the crime to your tour company (if you have one) and the local authorities. You can make a claim under baggage/personal effects coverage for stolen items but you will need to provide documentation. Baggage coverage pays for the depreciated cost of your belongings, not the cost to replace them with new items.