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About 1 in 3 travelers buy insurance for their trip, according to the US Travel Insurance Association. Should you be one of them? Here are 10 practical reasons, based on 10 situations where travel insurance can prove invaluable.

You’ve paid nonrefundable deposits or bought nonrefundable tickets.

For some trips, you’ll need to pay deposits significantly in advance of your travel dates, and in most cases, those deposits will be nonrefundable. Travel insurance can help you recover your deposits if you can’t take your trip for reasons covered in your insurance policy. Similarly, many trips aren’t refundable, meaning that if you don’t have insurance, you’ll be forced to shoulder the cost of a canceled trip in many cases. With the right travel insurance policy, you can recover most or all of those nonrefundable trip costs if you need to cancel for a covered reason.

Health insurance or Medicare may not cover you abroad.

If you get sick or injured while traveling abroad, you may or may not be covered by your health insurance plan. If you are covered, you may be asked to pay for your care in advance, causing you to be out of pocket thousands of dollars for serious illnesses or injuries, until such time as your insurance company reimburses you.  You may also be subject to high deductibles and co-pays because you are outside the network. It’s important to know the limitations of your health insurance coverage so you know what level of coverage you may need from travel insurance. Many comprehensive travel insurance policies cover medical services and hospitalization abroad up to the limit of the policy and will guarantee payments to healthcare providers so that you do not have to pay significant sums upfront.

You or your companion needs emergency medical evacuation.

While it may be a worst-case scenario, the moment you find yourself in need of emergency evacuation isn’t the time to figure out how you’ll pay for it and where you’ll go. A travel insurance plan that includes coverage for medical evacuation can make sure you get the care you need, and that you don’t have to put thousands of dollars on a credit card just to get treatment. Access America, through its parent company Mondial Assistance, has evaluated hundreds of medical facilities throughout the world, and ensures that customers with medical evacuation coverage are transported to an appropriate facility.

You lost your baggage.

We’ve all had the sinking feeling of standing at the baggage claim, watching everyone else walk away with their luggage while you wait. Losing your baggage is never good, but travel insurance can help cover the replacement of necessary items (up to the limits stated in your policy) for luggage that is delayed past a certain amount of time, and will reimburse replacement costs for lost items, as long as you take reasonable steps to keep your baggage safe and you file a report with appropriate authorities and your travel supplier that your luggage is missing.

Your flight was canceled because of bad weather.

If your flight is canceled because of the weather, airlines have no legal obligation to provide you with accommodations. In the travel insurance business, we call this travel delay (you’ll still eventually go, you just need to wait for the weather to cooperate). If your travel insurance policy includes travel delay coverage, and your trip is delayed by at least the minimum amount of time as stated in your policy, you may be reimbursed for expenses like hotel rooms and meals up to the limit of your policy.  Also invaluable is a travel assistance department open 24/7/365 that can help you make arrangements.

You, a traveling companion or family member gets sick or injured before you leave.

In our family, someone always gets sick on vacation, but usually not to the extent that we can’t mostly carry on with our plans. But what if someone in your family, or in your traveling party, gets seriously sick or injured before you leave? Without travel insurance, you may be left holding the bag. The right travel insurance policy will reimburse you for the prepaid, unused, nonrefundable portion of your trip. Before you cancel your trip, check your policy or call your insurance provider to determine your coverage and find out what documentation you may need to file a claim.

You have a complicated itinerary involving multiples legs and carriers.

When a lot of things can go wrong, something probably will. A delay of a few minutes for the first leg of your trip won’t throw much of a wrench in your plans, but what if it’s delayed a whole day? What if you miss some, or all, of your trip? Travel insurance can step in and reimburse unused, nonrefundable trip costs when you miss a connecting flight or a cruise when you have missed connection coverage and you miss a trip due to a covered reason. In some cases, your travel insurance can help make sure you get to continue your trip. For instance, if you missed boarding your cruise because of a delayed flight, your policy may cover the cost of sending you to meet the ship at the next port of call.

You lost your passport.

If your passport, or any important document, gets lost or stolen, you could find yourself stranded in a foreign land with little idea of how to get a replacement.  Look for an insurance provider with a 24-hour, multi-lingual help line that can help you navigate the process of getting replacement documents and, in some cases, even expedite the process.

You lost your job.

If you have a big trip planned and you lose your job, your prepaid, nonrefundable costs are as good as gone. But if you purchased travel insurance that included coverage for job loss (and if you meet the policy’s requirements, such as working for the same company for a certain amount of time), you could be reimbursed for those costs.

You want peace of mind.

Some of us just can’t enjoy ourselves if we feel like we’re taking a risk. Vacations should be fun, and travel insurance can give you the peace of mind you need to actually enjoy yourself.

Travel insurance can cover these situations and many more. 

Sponsored by Access America Travel Insurance & Assistance. To find out more about travel insurance, visit the U.S. Travel Insurance Association’s (UStiA) website at ustia.org. For more information, please visit AccessAmerica.com.

 

Photos 1, 3 & 4: iStockPhoto.com | Photo 2: comedy_nose

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Comment by Chris Ryan on September 25, 2011 at 9:21am
I second what Keith said. My parents once bought travel insurance through a tour operator. The tour operator went bankrupt on the even of their trip, so the cancellation insurance they had bought disappeared, too. Shouldn't there be a law against that?
Comment by David Paul Appell on July 19, 2011 at 5:12pm

I remember quite a few years ago, in the early 90s, my parents were set to go on a Smithsonian/Viking Lines luxury cruise from Hong Kong to Taiwan, Japan, and ending up in mainland China - it cost something like $5,000 per person. Well, would you believe a couple of weeks before they were due to leave, my mom slipped on the ice and broke her wrist, and they decided not to go. No insurance - so sad, too bad.  Fortunately, they had family members to give the trip to - myself and my sig other. But otherwise, can you imagine, just eating the cost, without anyone getting any benefit out of it?

Comment by Keith Kellett on July 14, 2011 at 5:31am

I would never consider travelling abroad without insurance, & can't understand anyone who would.

Just make sure you buy from an established, reputable insurer and NOT from a travel agent or tour operator.

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