Is Travel Insurance Really Worth the Money?

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We’re in the midst of an incredibly active hurricane season.  September alone saw Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria batter the Caribbean as well as the southern United States.  And hurricane season doesn’t end until November 30.  So, traveling to any tropical destination is a gamble right now.  Could travel insurance help you get your money back if you have to cancel?

What Is Travel Insurance?

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Travel insurance comes in many forms.  But it can cover a range of trip cancellation issues for everything from jury duty and termination of employment to death and serious illness.  Some plans even cover medical expenses, if you’re injured away from home, as well as lost baggage and expenses incurred by delays.

You can purchase insurance through your airline or booking service when making arrangements. Or, you can go through a third-party agency like Travel Guard or Insubuy.

While this protection sounds like a good idea, it can often seem like just another expense when you’re already spending a lot of money.  Thus, it’s natural to wonder if it’s worth it.  After all, what are the odds that you’ll have to cancel or that something bad will happen while you’re there?

Is It Worth the Money?

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It’s a double-edged sword.  For lengthy trips to international destinations, it could be worth it.  There’s an element of unpredictability you can never be too prepared for.  Forbes contributor Geoffrey Morrison bought Allianz insurance to cover his trip to Chile.  He broke his leg in two places on the trip and had to spend almost $3,000 on local healthcare.  He also had to cancel his accommodations and head home early.

But the downside is the process you must endure to reap the benefits of your coverage.  Morrison was reimbursed for most of his medical expenses.  The key word here is reimbursed.  You must spend the money upfront, and then lobby the insurance company to get your money back.  But his plan didn’t reimburse him for the hotel and hostel he’d booked.

Plus, proving that he didn’t use his accommodations was an arduous, and nearly impossible, process.

Before you buy travel insurance, consider your conditions.  Is your trip already covered by your credit card? Have you read the fine print?  Do you need to extend beyond a basic plan to cover everything? Does your plan only cover medical expenses or cancellations too?  And what proof do you need?

Travel insurance seems like a no-brainer.  It usually involves little more than clicking a box during the online checkout process.  But take the time to understand what you’re buying.  Or you could regret it later.