Last year, our relatives booked a cruise up and down the east coast. Several months before their departure, they got an unexpected medical diagnosis. Treatment meant they had to set aside the glossy travel itinerary and all their travel plans and cancel their trip. Fortunately, they’d purchased travel insurance and their costs were covered.


What on earth IS travel insurance and do I need it?

Travel insurance just means you’re buying insurance to cover you if something unexpected should go wrong on your trip. Whether you want to buy travel insurance or not depends on how likely you think you’ll need it. A high-risk adventure to the remote jungles of Southeast Asia might be a more likely candidate for coverage than a beach trip to Grand Cayman. Or not. It just depends. Cost is another factor. The higher your trip investment the more likely you are to want to cover that investment. In our opinion, travel insurance is an inexpensive way to provide a little peace of mind.



What does travel insurance cover?

It depends. Each policy is different. In fact you can buy different levels of coverage. More comprehensive coverage includes benefits for these situations…


  • trip interruption (You sprain your ankle on Day 2 of the tour and can’t walk on it for a week.)
  • trip cancellation (Your airline cancels all its flights because of a strike.)
  • medical emergency (You forget that you are NOT supposed to drink tap water in India and get a serious case of ecoli.)
  • medical evacuation (You’re hiking in a remote jungle and have to be transported to a major city for medical attention.)
  • baggage protection (You’re so taken with your surroundings on arriving in Paris that you forget to watch your bag and someone swipes it.)
  • missed connection (On your way to the airport, two cars in front of you collide. The accident causes a delay and you miss your flight.).


What, for instance, is considered a medical emergency or trip interruption or cancellation? Check your travel insurance company’s list of covered reasons. Unfortunately, it doesn’t count if you think it’s a legitimate reason. The travel insurance company is paying the check; their opinion is the one that counts.


TIP: Buy travel insurance within 7-14 days (check your company’s exact dates) of the first payment for your trip, whether that’s the deposit on a tour or an airline ticket. Pre-existing medical conditions are more likely to be covered.



How much coverage should I get?

Base the amount of coverage you get on the total cost of your trip. Let’s say you take a tour to Italy and plan to stay a couple extra days, visit good friends in Milan, and take in a performance at Teatro la Scala. Add up…

  • Airfare
  • Tour cost
  • Extra night’s lodging
  • Car rental
  • Tickets to the performance

The total is the amount of coverage you want. Basically, you want to include any prepaid nonrefundable items.


How much does travel insurance cost?

Cost depends on a few factors, primarily on how much coverage you want and how old you are. Not surprisingly the older you are, the more you pay. If you’re thirty-five you might pay $105 for a $2500 trip. As soon as you hit fifty, that amount could nudge up to $145. Coverage for kids under seventeen can be really inexpensive and sometimes free. Some companies even offer free coverage for children traveling with grandparents.


Under what circumstances can I get reimbursed through travel insurance?

Unfortunately, you can’t claim a serious case of the flu the day before your trip (or a serious case of the I-don’t-want-to-miss-my daughter’s-recital-that-was scheduled-after-I-bought-the-trip) and expect to have your travel costs covered. If you want that kind of insurance, purchase “Cancel for Any Reason” insurance. Seriously. There is such a thing, but it’s crazy expensive.


Every travel insurance company has a list of what they call “covered reasons.” Before buying, check what list of specific reasons fall in the covered category. For instance, they may cover your costs if a family member dies or if a family member has an illness. BUT, the illness has to be one of their covered illnesses. You just want to know what those covered illnesses are.



Where can I buy traveler’s insurance?

We happen to like Allianz and not just because our son used to work there. Their site is easy to navigate and understand. Getting a quote takes all of 10 seconds and it’s easy to compare the different plans available. Two other big companies are TravelGuard and Travelex .



Only God can give true peace of mind. But a little traveler’s insurance doesn’t hurt.


Do you have any travel insurance tips you can share?

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