Thinking about travel insurance is probably not the most fun part of your travel planning (unlike thinking about which bungalow you’re going to book in Thailand). In fact, you might not even have thought about it until now, but if you are the type of person who clicks that emergency coverage box when renting a car or triple-checks every form before submitting it—asking yourself if you need travel insurance might come naturally. Travel insurance is also a little cheaper than you might think depending on the total cost of your trip, and it might be worth it if you’ve been planning for a while and spending anywhere over $1,000 on the trip. It’s a good safety net if you don’t want to risk losing your investment and time.
Why do I need travel insurance?
Natural disasters, medical emergencies, personal emergencies, and political upheavals can affect anyone’s travel plans, and they are unpredictable. If you encounter these while traveling, wouldn’t it be nice to know you insured yourself, and it’s not all a waste? Travel insurance is a way to stress less, because it covers trip cancellation or interruption, baggage loss, and/or emergency medical care.
How much does it cost?
Premiums depend on the age of the traveler, the cost of the trip, and the type of coverage elected. You’ll pay about 4 to 8 percent of the trip’s cost for a standard policy. So, for instance, if your trip costs $2,000, you might pay between $80 to $160 for insurance.
Credit card benefits and consumer-protection laws also may help. If you paid for all (or part) of your trip with a credit card, check the fine print of your credit card terms (it’s all online!). You may already have free coverage through the card and not even know it.
Where can I buy it?
- For the best rates, go to a site that sells coverage from multiple carriers—sort of like the Expedia or Priceline of the travel insurance industry. InsureMyTrip.com and TravelInsurance.com are two good sites to check out.
- You can buy a policy through a travel agent, tour operator, or cruise line—but make sure you compare pricing and shop around a bit before you do. Travel insurance might also be an add-on option (at checkout) when you purchase a plane ticket online.
- If your workplace carries business travel insurance for its employees, it may offer a personal travel insurance benefit—so check with your employer, too.
Hmmm, I’m not sold.
Buying trip insurance is a delicate balance between the what-ifs and your risk tolerance and your budget. Some events may be covered through homeowners, auto, life, or health insurance you already have—so check those policies.
Even if you have health insurance in your home country, when you’re traveling abroad your policy may not provide coverage should you need medical attention, a hospital stay, or emergency evacuation. In that case, at the very least, you might consider purchasing a medical-only travel insurance policy for peace of mind.