Is Travel Insurance Worth It?
by Daniel | Last Updated January 31st, 2020
We may earn a commission for purchases using our links, at no cost to you.
Going on holiday can be expensive, so minimizing the amount you're spending is likely your top priority. For this reason, so many of us decide not to go for travel insurance. It's often seen as an unnecessary addition to an already costly trip. You don't plan on anything going wrong, so - is travel insurance really worth it?
The simple answer, in many cases, is yes. No one plans for anything to go wrong, that's why travel insurance exists in the first place, and even the greatest of contingency plans can fail. It isn't something any of us like to think about, but sometimes plans don't go as swimmingly as we'd like. In the unfortunate event that everything goes up in the air (or doesn't, in the case of canceled flights), you'll be glad you insured yourself while you still had the chance to.
What Can Travel Insurance Help With?
A standard travel insurance policy will address some of your biggest fears when it comes to booking your vacation destination. These often include the following:
This comprises just some of the standard nightmare material we all hope won't happen to us when we're preparing for a much-needed break. The price of travel insurance quickly seems more reasonable when you're faced with the reality of a non-refundable canceled flight that you spent thousands of dollars on. Travel insurance might hike up the price of your trip, but it also provides you with a safety net that can actually turn out to be a real money-saver.
Of course, not all trips require travel insurance. If you're just catching a flight between states to visit your family, you don't necessarily need to ensure every last step of your journey against the many dangerous pitfalls that your mom warned you about (though if these do happen you can expect a hefty 'I told you so,' and you didn't get your advice from me).
What I'm trying to say is: there are times you absolutely should invest in travel insurance, and other times it really isn't that important. How can you tell the difference? Well, it depends on where you're going, how long for, and how soon you're traveling. Here's a breakdown of some of the instances where you definitely need to cover yourself, and other times where you can likely give it a miss.
Why You Might Need Travel Insurance
You're Traveling Internationally
There are numerous factors you have to take into consideration when flying internationally that increase the likelihood that you will need travel insurance. The price is probably the first that springs to mind. As you're covering more distance, international flights accrue higher expenses, which means if there is a trip cancellation, you aren't eligible for a refund. Consequently, you'll be losing out on potentially thousands of dollars because of the trip interruption.
Many travel insurance policies exist to prevent trip cancellation, and some even offer a 'cancel for any reason' option you can purchase, which should give you complete peace of mind. In 2020, this is particularly helpful. Both the environmental and political climate are tempestuous currently, which means anything can change at any minute. This shouldn't put you off traveling at all, but it should encourage you to take necessary precautions when journeying abroad.
While politics is likely the last thing you want to consider when choosing a holiday destination, when traveling internationally, it's good to know you can cancel your trip if riots and protests hit the newsreel. It's unlikely, but it certainly isn't impossible, which pretty much summarizes all the reasons why you should opt for travel insurance.
You're a Human, Susceptible to Injury
Granted, this header is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it's true. Travel insurance that covers medical emergencies or injuries provides some of the essential benefits to any trip you take abroad. Of course, the health insurance you already possess may cover some of your medical expenses - especially if you're attending larger cities as opposed to more niche getaways -, but that doesn't mean an unexpected injury that requires medical care won't set you back substantially.
There are thousands of horror stories relating to this particular issue. Individuals being charged astronomical amounts because they don't have the appropriate travel insurance to cover their emergency medical needs. None of us want to believe we're going to end up in circumstances like these when we imagine our trip, and we may even try to kid ourselves ('I'm only going to a beach resort, what's the worst that could happen?') but the truth is: no one expects medical emergencies to happen, that doesn't prevent them.
It might be a bit of a dark thought to have, but knowing you're protected by travel insurance if the worst should happen will give you peace of mind, and may even help you enjoy your trip even more with the knowledge that you're sufficiently insured.
You're Traveling With Valuables
Product and luggage insurance is one of the more important policies you can add to your vacation repertoire. We're not necessarily talking about your diamond necklace or Rolex watch here (though, of course, they count), but more so the things you take on holidays with you that you don't even really stop to think about. Your smartphone, your camera, even your wallet.
There are numerous things we take on trips with us that feel like second-nature, but we'd soon notice the impact if we lost them.
Without appropriate travel insurance, if your apartment or hotel room was broken into and these items (among others) were stolen, you'd have no claim for reimbursement. Some travel insurances also possess a damaged goods policy, which can be invaluable if you're taking a trip along the road less traveled but can even provide much-needed support if you're simply going on a sunbathing break. Ever dropped your phone in a pool by accident? It isn't pretty.
Aside from product protection, many travel insurances also possess policies to protect your luggage. Losing your luggage is arguably one of the biggest inconveniences you can face on a trip. You've only just begun, and all you now possess is whatever you took on your flight with you (which, if you're anything like me, will only consist of an empty snack bag and a book).
Luggage insurance can be a lifesaver, as you can claim money to replace the items you've lost. In some instances where your luggage is simply delayed, you can even claim money to purchase temporary items. You might not consider your decade-old sweater a 'valuable,' but when you're left with nothing, you may just reconsider.
When it's Okay to Skip Travel Insurance
You're Going on a Domestic Trip
Like we said before, if you're flying between states there isn't an enormous need for you to have travel insurance. In most cases, your medical insurance plan will cover you between states anyway, and even if your domestic flight is canceled there's a strong likelihood your ticket can be redeemed on the next available flight anyway. The financial losses aren't nearly as great as with international travel.
Of course, nothing is stopping you from opting for some travel insurance if it helps you feel more secure. Product insurance is never a bad idea, and it's always smart to stay prepared. If you feel like it's too financially strapping, however, then it's perfectly acceptable to leave out the travel insurance this time around.
Your Credit Card Already Provides Travel Benefits
Certain credit cards actually come with travel insurance perks of their own, so you might have eligibility for certain benefits without even realizing, and they aren't menial either. Certain credit cards can cover you for up to ten thousand dollars if your flight is canceled, and others provide specific luggage protections. It's easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and completely forget that your credit card even has these kinds of benefits, so make sure to stay informed and take advantage.
You're Using it Solely to Give You Options
Travel insurance isn't a cancellation parachute. Don't buy it just so if you change your mind you can do so and get your money back. It doesn't work like that. Insurance companies are good at detecting who is genuine and who is just trying to play the system to their benefit.
For this reason, it's often recommended you book your travel insurance at least fifteen days prior to your flight. Otherwise, you may arouse suspicion. Don't waste money on policies you don't actually need, and don't believe you're smarter than the system. Travel insurance companies grow smarter every day.
So, is Travel Insurance Worth It?
Unfortunately, the answer isn't black or white. Sometimes: travel insurance is worth absolutely every dollar. Other times: not really. It all depends on the variable factors listed above and how they apply to your particular situation. It truly comes down to personal circumstances, but if you're after more finalizing advice than that, it's never a bad idea to take extra precautions (providing they don't put you severely out of pocket).
Traveling is a wonderful privilege to enjoy, but it has its risks. If you're worried about something happening, look into an insurance policy that can provide you with the necessary coverage. It may well just prove invaluable.
Welcome to LuggageGuru!
My name is Daniel and I am a full-time world traveler and constantly on the move.