When Travel Insurance Might Be Something To Consider

Travel insurance is often looked upon as a pork barrel for insurance carriers, but there are good reasons – and ways – to seriously consider trip coverage.

In our changing times, travelers are older than travelers were a generation ago. People with disabilities, elders, and families with small children are courted by major air carriers, cruise lines, hotels and tour operators, so the traveling population is more eclectic – and possibly at higher risk.

Some of the coverage included in a “packaged” trip insurance policy almost certainly generates a profit for the insurer. The actuarial odds that many travelers will need $100,000 medical evacuation coverage, for example, are probably very long. But mortgage holders also force mortgagees to pay flood insurance for floodplain units on the tenth floor, unlikely to be at risk of water damage. We pay fire coverage in our auto premiums though most of us have yet to own, or see, a car that has burst into flames or was torched or burned in any way.

Travelers traditionally worry most about three things: loss of luggage, illness away from home, and trip cancellation or interruption. Add in the volatile nature of travel today – flights cancelled because of volcanic eruptions, terrorist alerts, labor disputes, political hot spots and cruises at risk because of diseases on board or piracy concerns – and insuring against risk seems less frivolous, indeed.

To evaluate your insurance needs, first find out what insurance coverage you may already have. Check credit card benefits on cards used for travel. Homeowners, auto and health insurance policies also may cover travel related losses or expenses. Read credit card benefits summaries available online, and study insurance policies before deciding what travel insurance you need, if any. If obtuse legal jargon is confusing, call the toll-free numbers for the card companies or insurance carriers and agents for straight answers.

You might also explore the purchase of inexpensive per trip coverage through your credit card. You can cancel that coverage when you return home. A little thoughtful research allows you to know what you have and what you might need if the cost is reasonable. Then you need only decide what supplemental coverage you might consider buying. Set a reasonable dollar limit within which coverage makes sense and stick to it.

When a trip implodes for any reason travel insurance can be invaluable, but these “Buyer Beware” considerations should be heeded before a purchase is made:

  1. Study existing policies and benefits. Homeowners, health and auto insurance, and credit card programs may already cover many of your travel needs. Call and ask questions.
  2. Do the research necessary to supplement existing coverage with affordable travel policies for specific areas like medical, trip interruption or cancellation and luggage loss. Compare costs from several carriers and buy only what seems necessary.
  3. Buy only what will allow you to travel with peace of mind at a reasonable cost.

When the unexpected happens, the most expensive insurance can be the one you didn’t buy; but no coverage should be “priceless.”

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