You’re in the middle of booking your trip and then, suddenly that “add travel insurance button” pops up. I know what you’re thinking: Do I need travel insurance? What does travel insurance cover? Is it really worth it? Did I forget to lock my front door?
If you’re anything like me, and you’ve eaten ramen on the floor of your couchless living room just to save for a trip, you might feel you’re too broke to buy travel insurance.
But, over time, I’ve realized how beneficial it really is to have insurance. Because as invincible as you may think you are, you can’t outrun a hurricane. Unless you’re the Flash. (Bedroom nicknames do not count.)
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Travel insurance benefits are meant to protect you against unforeseen travel accidents and mishaps. This includes everything from frustrating flight cancellations to major accidents in a foreign country or evacuation due to a natural disaster.
Unfortunately, travel insurance won’t cover everything. For example, if you miss a flight because you were hungover — or because you got sucked into an episode of Outlander and missed your boarding call — your travel insurance won’t cover that. Not even if you fax them a photo of Sam Heughan’s abs.
Here are a few things that travel insurance does cover:
- Trip cancellation – This covers you if you need to cancel your trip because your cousin decided to have a shotgun wedding instead of a destination wedding, or because the discount airline you booked apparently doesn’t fly when it’s drizzling.
- Emergency medical insurance – Emergencies don’t solely happen at home. The last thing you want is to end up at a foreign hospital that requires payment before you get medical care. Look, if I had enough wiggle room in my travel budget to pay for emergency surgery, I wouldn’t be sharing a hostel bathroom with 11 other people.
- Theft protection – If someone steals your wallet or your phone while you’re on the road, travel insurance will help with that. Unfortunately your policy won’t cover you if someone poaches your man in Cuba.
- Evacuation – Maybe there’s political unrest in the country you’re visiting, or a hurricane is approaching your Caribbean villa, or you got stranded in the woods because you thought those trail blazes were just paint swatches. (Oh, like it’s such a crazy idea to give the forest a pop of color?) Whatever the reason, evacuation insurance is key, because helicopter rides don’t come cheap.
- Trip delays – Travel insurance covers the costs associated with a trip delay due to weather, airline complications, and more.
- Lost baggage – If your luggage is lost, or even delayed, travel insurance will pay for your contents or the items you needed to purchase until your bag shows up in your destination. Even if you’re headed to a nudist vacation and only want to claim your lost razor, insurance has got your back. But not the shirt on your back, because you’re naked.
- Accidental death or dismemberment – If you or a loved one dies or suffers a major injury — such as eyesight loss or loss of limb — travel insurance could possibly cover the costs. Yep, even if you gain Daredevil-level superpowers.
What Type of Travel Insurance Should I Get?
It’s easy to say you don’t need travel insurance. After all, you’re never going to lose your razor on the way to a nudist retreat, right? And that might be the case. But you may eventually have to deal with lost or delayed baggage or a flight cancellation — and when that happens you’ll be happy you bought travel insurance.
While we’re at it, should you get TSA Precheck or Global Entry? Find out which is best for you.
Here’s a look at the three main types of travel insurance.
Basic Trip Cancellation or Interruption Insurance Protection
Cost: The average cost of basic trip cancellation is $104.
Trip interruption or cancellation protection reimburses you for travel expenses when you have to cancel or cut short a trip due to specific reasons such as illness, injury, a death in the family, or natural disasters. Often you will need to prove these events with documents such as a doctor’s note, so don’t bother trying to fake your Aunt Mary’s death (again) just so you can reschedule your trip to Nashville.
Comprehensive Travel Insurance
Cost: The average cost of comprehensive travel insurance is $164.
Comprehensive travel insurance reimburses you for everything covered under basic trip insurance plus more. It covers medical and dental emergencies while traveling, evacuation, lost baggage, and life insurance benefits in the event of death. After all, why haunt a Victorian house when you can haunt your cruise ship that’s now at the bottom of the ocean!
Cancel for Any Reason
Cost: Can be as much as 50% of the trip cost.
An add-on known as ‘cancel for any reason’ may be something to think about if you’re traveling somewhere with extreme political unrest or if you just want extra coverage for life’s curveballs — say, your pet gets sick, of your introverted self just doesn’t feel like people-ing anymore.
However, most of what you need is covered by comprehensive travel insurance, making cancel for any reason insurance an often unnecessary (and expensive) add-on. Save it for duty-free tequila.
How Do I Buy Travel Insurance?
When you actually go to buy travel insurance, you’ll quickly discover that there are so many companies ready to take your money. It can get a little overwhelming.
Personally? I like Allianz. They offer an annual plan which makes travel insurance much more cost efficient for regular travelers and I’ve never run into an issue with reimbursement.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
Through a study of more than 50 travel insurance policies, the average cost of travel insurance in the U.S. was $148, but there are many factors that impact the cost of travel insurance:
- Age – the age of an individual has a significant impact on the cost of travel insurance. After 35, the price increases dramatically the older the traveler. We really need to tell grandma to stop cliff diving on mushrooms.
- Trip Cost – the total cost of the trip and policy limits will definitely impact your cost.
- Type of Coverage – as with any insurance coverage, the type and depth of coverage will impact the cost.
- Length of trip – longer trips will increase the cost of travel insurance. A short trip to Alabama for your cousin’s wedding is definitely going to cost less than a three-month trek through Nepal.
You can use Insure My Trip to price out the insurance for practically any trip by putting in dates, location, your age, the price of your trip, and other details.
When Can I Skip Travel Insurance?
While it is generally a good idea to have travel insurance, there are times when it’s okay to skip it. These instances do not include your know-it-all partner thinking that you don’t need it.
United States Travel
If you’re traveling within the US, your trip is likely to be less expensive. As a result, it wouldn’t be as big of a deal to lose the investment should you need to cancel.
Additionally, if you’re traveling within the US, you may already have health insurance. You’re probably covered for any emergency medical situations. Take a look at your benefits if you’re not. A trip to the hospital in the woo-whee vehicle can get pretty pricey.
Your Credit Card Covers It
There are several fantastic credit cards that are perfect for travelers because they offer perks like travel insurance.
My personal favorite is the Chase Sapphire Preferred card. It has built-in insurance for rental cars and covers a trip interrupted by illness or severe weather.
I once drove a rental car all the way from the border of Texas and Mexico to Tennessee. After getting some rest, I went to return the rental car and the windshield cracked on the way. My credit card covered the entire thing with no deductible.
Alright, time to share. Tell me your craziest travel story in the comments!