When traveling in the United States or abroad, you might wonder whether you need travel insurance. The answer is more complicated than you would expect, and varies for each individual’s or family’s circumstances.
Here are a few points to keep in mind when thinking about travel insurance:
In general, the higher your risk of becoming ill, encountering unpredictable situations, or experiencing significant financial loss due to an upset in plans, the more you need travel insurance of some kind. To consider two extremes, a healthy young adult traveling a conventional route on a shoestring budget and staying with friends will likely need less insurance than an older individual with a chronic health condition planning an expensive adventure trip will. Among the situations travel insurance can address are replacement of a passport, cancellation of a trip because of a health problem, and bankruptcy of a travel provider.
Check with your health insurance company to see if your existing policy covers medical problems that arise when you are outside the country—many do not. If you are on Medicare or participate in a national health insurance program, you probably do not have coverage outside your own country’s borders. Medical evacuation from some destinations can cost tens of thousands of dollars, and insurance to cover that possibility can be relatively inexpensive.
Travel protection insurance covers you if you must cancel prepaid travels. Sometimes, the repayment is only partial, but if you have purchased an expensive trip far in advance, the peace of mind will likely be worth the expenditure. Such policies typically reimburse you for events such as death or illness, an outbreak of violence in your home city or destination, and damage from a natural disaster that would make your destination hazardous. Your credit card company may also offer this type of insurance.
Insurance for lost or damaged baggage might also be available through your credit card provider, and airlines must reimburse you within certain limits.
Typically, companies sell travel insurance in package deals, so study the available options and determine whether you truly need all the types of protection in any particular package. There are ways to purchase travel insurance piece by piece on comparison-shopping websites, such as InsureMyTrip.com, although the savings may not be significant.