Four Questions To Ask Before Buying Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is a waste in most situations, but before dismissing it outright, ask yourself four questions:

    What Could Go Wrong? Is an elderly parent sick? Could you be called into work? By identifying specific incidents that could arise, you can better evaluate whether insurance is worthwhile.
    What Coverage Do You Already Have? What parts of your trip are not already covered by your credit card, health insurer, or auto club?
    How Expensive Is The Trip? Travel insurance is a waste for discount air tickets, but might be worthwhile for a pricey cruise.
    What Is Already Prepaid Or Nonrefundable? Know what you can realistically expect to get back.

Beyond those four questions, we previously covered nine specific instances when travel insurance might be worth considering. If you decide to get insurance, shop around for the best price, and read the fine print to make sure that the situation you have in mind will be covered.

Travel: To insure or not? [L.A. Times]
(Photo: HansNYC)

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  1. jamesdenver says:

    If you use a decent credit card, you already have protection (via dispute) should your flight get canceled, hotel get overbooked, etc, etc.

    Personally I already have my travel contingencies worked out. On a big trip I’ll know what other airlines fly my route in case of a CX, or what other cities I can connect through. I’ll have a backup hotel in my preferred neighborhood in case my hotel screwed up my booking or is a total dump when I arrive.

    A few days prior to arrival I e-mail my hotel (usually a small hotel which I prefer) to confirm. I have a copy of my passport and CC phone numbers e-mailed to myself in case of loss or theft.

    For me if something goes wrong I find it’s easier to deal with it myself, and work on rectifying it myself rather than calling a 3rd party insurance company and waiting for them to make arrangments for me. The time spent arranging a backup hotel, or researching things is negligable, and of course the obvious rule applies: Allow plenty of time for contingency. i.e. don’t schedule a cruise departing at 3pm if you’re arriving Miami at noon.

    As for health insurance I haven’t broken any bones overseas yet, but I’ll watch Sicko before my next trip to give my some confidence I guess.


    james [www.futuregringo.co]

  2. jamesdenver says:

    p.s. where the hell do these photos come from? I guess it’s better to have a gate agent that’s completely stoned than a bitchy rude one.

  3. Once again the most important reason isn’t on the list:

    Are you going somewhere you want to be airlifted out of if they tell you your appendix needs to be removed?

    If you’re going to a first world country with first-world hospitals, you probably don’t need travel insurance. If you’re going anywhere you’d rather be airlifted to Sweden before they start poking around your insides (as happened to a friend of mine whose appendix burst in Russia), YOU WANT TRAVEL INSURANCE. Or at least catastrophic medical coverage for travel. It’s cheap. Airlifts are not.

  4. relaxing_dragon says:

    The way travel insurance tends to be packaged makes it very expensive. It’s often a one size fits none product, and certain aspects of it are unnecessary for an individuals needs, or already covered by something else.
    Companies which cater more to student travel tend to be much more reasonable, or an alternative is to go to a company which allows you to tailor coverage. In the latter case, the trip cancellation is the first to go – it’s really a hefty portion. I do not travel far without medical and medical evacuation coverage (contrary to Michael Moore’s picture, overseas health care may only be free to residents), or loss or delay of baggage coverage (more than my credit card offers – this can truly ruin a trip and is most likely to occur).

  5. Onouris says:

    I wouldn’t set foot in America without insurance. I wouldn’t want to lose the top of one of my fingers and be charged $60,000 by greedy, money grabbing bastards.

  6. jmackowi says:

    I only buy the insurance when booking a weeklong vacation out of the country. I’ve ended up needing it almost every time. Hurrican Wilma had us “stranded” in Aruba for an extra day (ins picked up the tab for hotel and all meals), luggage was delayed in St Kitts for 2 days (ins covered toothpaste, etc), and my luggage was destroyed by Spirit Airlines in Cancun this Feb (ins sent me a check to replace when Spirit would not cover it).

  7. revmatty says:

    Having just come back from China, I’ll add another time travel insurance is a reasonable thing: When adopting from a foreign country. The kids are often not in great health, and even in a third world country medical expenses can add up quick, as they did for one family on our trip.

    In our situation it was $62 total for the whole family for two weeks, and covered all medical, flights, luggage, and a host of other things I’ve since forgotten. Note that we got a deeply discounted rate that they only offer to adopting families, but if that’s what you’re doing it’s a good thing to spend money on. We will be making a claim on it for medical expenses we had (which were very minor in comparison, for some infant meds and an office visit) that will basically make the insurance cost a wash.