For many, travel insurance is considered just another unnecessary expense. It’s overlooked by many young people, in particular, who feel invincible or otherwise don’t foresee any reasons for canceling a trip. However, this isn’t a risk worth taking, and there are many reasons to buy travel insurance (even if you are young and healthy).
Until recently, I was also someone who didn’t buy travel insurance. “How could that ever happen to me?” was my rationalization for not purchasing travel insurance. This isn’t actually a rational thought, especially when it comes to expensive trips, where you have a lot to lose if something goes wrong.
The fact of the matter is that much of what happens in the world— and even in our own lives— is out of our control. Moreover, many travel expenses, including flights, are non-refundable, so you’re out of luck when you don’t have proper coverage. For those reasons alone, it’s a good idea to buy travel insurance with trip cancellation coverage. Here are just a few scenarios for why you should consider buying travel insurance when booking your vacations.
1. You can get sick or injured
What happens if you (or a traveling companion) gets sick with a virus or injured hiking a mountain and can no longer travel? These things are often out of your control, so you’ll want to have a travel insurance policy with trip cancellation coverage. That way, you’ll receive a refund of your trip cost.
If you’re already traveling, you may need emergency medical insurance coverage, which comes with a steep price tag. Having travel medical coverage will provide peace of mind and lower the exorbitant costs associated with things like medical treatment. This is especially important if you are traveling internationally and your health insurance plan won’t cover medical bills from another country. Such plans come with help services, where you can reach out to your insurance provider about how to find a medical facility and arrange for transportation to get there.
In addition, check to see if your plan offers emergency medical evacuation benefits. Transporting a patient to and from a hospital, particularly in remote areas, can cost thousands of dollars out of pocket. It can even be as high as tens of thousands of dollars if it’s an emergency evacuation. It’s not worth taking the risk of having a medical expense that high. Better safe than sorry!
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2. Your travel organization goes bankrupt
This is something that will definitely affect your travel arrangements.
Imagine your seven-night cruise in the Caribbean gets canceled due to the cruise line filing bankruptcy. Or the airline you’re flying to Paris with just went out of business (still super bummed about WOW Air!). In such circumstances, you may not be able to get a refund. That is, without trip insurance.
Buying a travel insurance plan with financial default coverage will allow you to recover your pre-paid expenses up to the policy limit.
3. Your luggage is lost, delayed, or stolen
Has your luggage ever been lost, stolen, or delayed? It’s happened to me before, and it’s not fun. If it’s the airline’s fault, you may get compensated for essential items until your bag arrives. Some credit card companies also provide such coverage. However, airline compensation for delayed luggage is often limited and won’t help you purchase urgent and expensive belongings. Furthermore, many airlines won’t pay out until the bag’s missing for more than 24 hours, and each carrier has other exclusions as well. Imagine if you’re flying out to a wedding and your tux or dress didn’t arrive? Getting baggage delay coverage up to a certain dollar threshold will give you peace of mind.
What happens if your luggage is lost, stolen, or otherwise damaged? This is another scenario where you shouldn’t just rely on the airline. Airlines have been known to take days (or even weeks) to acknowledge that a bag is lost. Additionally, airlines tend to veer away from paying the full amount of the claim by depreciating the costs of certain items. Consider buying a travel insurance plan that offers such coverage.
4. The weather affects your travel plans
What happens if a hurricane, tornado, or flood ravages your holiday destination? On hurricane-prone islands such as Puerto Rico, or most recently the Bahamas, imagine if a hurricane severely damages the hotel you were planning to stay at? Without travel insurance, there’s a likely possibility that you won’t be able to recover your pre-paid travel expenses. Consider getting a travel insurance policy that provides coverage relating to weather damage.
Bad weather knows no boundaries, so you’ll want to have trip insurance coverage on domestic trips and international ones.
5. A travel emergency occurs that you didn’t predict
Imagine a family member falls ill or a natural disaster occurs, requiring you to return home earlier or stay in your destination longer than expected. If such circumstances arise, you’ll be fortunate to have trip interruption insurance. Be sure to read the fine print though, as policies provide “covered reasons” for interrupting or canceling your trip (not all reasons are covered).
Flight insurance covers unexpected events that may affect a flight (i.e. severe weather conditions) and events that may happen during a flight (i.e. significant injuries or loss of life resulting from a plane crash). If you don’t have life insurance, flight insurance provides a similar benefit while you are in the air.
6. A terrorism-related event occurs
Sadly, this is a threat that can occur anywhere at any time. I was in Nice, France during the morning of Bastille Day in 2016, leaving the city just hours before the attack that killed crowds of people on the Promenade des Anglais. These awful tragedies can happen any time and not necessarily just in “dangerous places.” To protect yourself against costs relating to unexpected attacks and acts of terror, it’s a good idea to buy a travel insurance plan with terrorism coverage.
7. Loss of a family member (or friend)
If such a tragedy happens and you’d like to cancel or postpone your departure flight, you’ll want to have trip cancellation coverage.
8. Work-related cancellation
Have to cancel your trip for work reasons? This is quite common, and thankfully, there’s coverage for this.
Many policies offer work-related cancellations as part of their trip interruption and trip cancellation benefits. However, to cover all work-related reasons, it may be beneficial to upgrade your policy to account for the following scenarios:
– Work schedule changes will require you to work during your vacation time
– Your company is undergoing a merger, acquisition, or bankruptcy that will require you to work during your scheduled vacation
– Your company was deemed “unsuitable” due to a burglary, vandalism, flood, or fire, which will require you to work
Be sure to check your travel insurance policy to see if it lists out the specific work-related cancellations you are looking for. Rule of thumb: if the policy doesn’t list a certain reason, then you won’t have coverage for that scenario!
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9. You miss your connecting flight or cruise connection
This is quite a common occurrence. I know people who have missed their cruises and tours due to delayed or cancelled flights. In the US, there are no laws covering missed connections involving multiple airline carriers. Even in circumstances when airlines will provide compensation, it’s typically very limited. For peace of mind, consider getting a travel insurance plan with missed connection coverage. That way, you won’t have to worry about having a flight delay or a flight cancellation.
Why it’s a good idea to buy travel insurance in 2021
I get it. Sometimes it can be hard to justify paying extra for travel insurance. After all, most of us don’t have unlimited amounts of funds and are trying to travel on a budget. Travel protection isn’t a priority for many.
However, when you’ve spent a lot of money on a special trip, the price of insurance is minute compared to all the money you could lose if something goes wrong.
In this article, I’ve provided seven scenarios where people would regret not having travel insurance. It doesn’t only protect you against one type of event, but can provide peace of mind concerning a variety of risks we accept whenever we travel.
Of course, there are many other reasons to buy travel insurance, but this will give you a solid foundation. For more information, be sure to inquire with a travel insurance professional and find a reliable travel insurance company that meets your risk objectives. Here’s one below. Best wishes and happy travels!
World Nomads is a travel insurance company recommended by some of my favorite travel brands, including Lonely Planet and National Geographic.
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