Travel insurance is an added expense tacked on to the end of your vacation tab, and most people waive the fee without learning the details of what the travel insurance covers. The most common coverage is for medical emergencies, lost luggage and a full or partial reimbursement for any cancellation fees. However, before you add a travel insurance policy, evaluate your unique situation as to how much coverage is prudent, or if you need any at all. So is buying travel insurance worth it? The answer depends on where you are going and what you have planned for your itinerary.
When traveling overseas, its a good idea to purchase some kind of coverage. Travelers who will participate in an escort tour will be given the option to buy the minimum travel insurance coverage, usually just a few hundred dollars due at the time the balance of the tour is paid. This type of coverage is checked out by the tour operator and one of the safest coverage plans you can buy. Nothing fancy and no frills, just solid coverage for loss of life or limb, stolen baggage and excursion cancellations scheduled for your tour. In addition, the tour group policy will usually cover an emergency flight back home after obtaining medical treatment.
If you are traveling domestically or overseas and planning to stay with a friend or relative, you probably do not need to invest in travel insurance. The insurance plan is offered from tour companies, not only for the traveler's benefit, but peace of mind for themselves should any snafu arise. However, if your next vacation includes a ski trip or other intense sport where there's a possibility of taking a tumble, you want to be sure you have basic medical coverage, especially outside of the United States. It makes good sense to buy some kind of coverage for medical emergencies, no matter how profitable you are in sports.
Some travel insurance companies specialize in coverage for high risk sports and activities, and such companies often carry the best rates. If your itinerary includes mountain climbing, white water rafting, etc. you may opt for full coverage to cover the cost of evacuation, as well as any medical treatment received. Some industry giants, such as worldtravelcenter.com, allow their clients to pick and choose exactly what they wish to be covered for, then keeping the policy bill to a bare minimum.
A common misnomer is that when you travel to countries using socialized medicine, that you will be treated for free. No. The citizens of that country must show a national ID card for treatment and foreigners will be billed a hefty fee. The savvy and seasoned traveler knows the risk of injury and will plan ahead with a premium policy to cover all the bases.
When choosing your travel insurance plan, be sure to get one that offers good protection for your luggage. If anything is going to go awry, it will most likely be lost or stolen bags. However, beware that there are hundreds of travel insurance policies on the market, each containing fine print that must be understood. So to make it easy, you may wish to let your travel agent assign you a policy from a vendor that they know and trust. In addition, some of the major credit card companies offer travel insurance, and if you are using their card, you have a head start already with your coverage.