Planning a vacation for a family (or even just yourself) is stressful enough, isn’t it? I know when I plan a weeklong getaway, I get so amped up thinking about how nice it’s going to be to get away that I forget about the most important part: arranging the trip.
This part of the vacation planning process deals with answering questions such as: Where do I want to go? How am I going to get there? Where am I going to stay? How much is it going to cost?
Once you get those questions answered, it’s time to start counting down the days until your vacation begins, right?
What if you decide to take a trip down south to Florida or South Carolina and your flight gets canceled due to severe weather? Do you automatically get a refund? Unfortunately, many people have found out too late that the answer isn’t always yes.
This brings up the very important question of whether travel insurance is worth it. Think of how disappointing it would be to get to the airport, wait around to board your flight, and then hear that your flight was canceled. Think about how much more disappointing it would be if you didn’t even receive a refund for your canceled trip.
Luckily for me, I’ve never found myself in either situation. In the last year alone, I’ve taken vacations to Florida three separate times. While I’ve never purchased travel insurance, it’s always crossed my mind when I’m booking my flight. Below I’ll outline factors that can impact your decision to purchase travel insurance.
What does travel insurance include?
Travel insurance can include trip cancellation, trip interruption, transportation to medical facilities, loss of luggage or personal belongings, and protection against the bankruptcy or default of your cruise line or tour operator.
Besides shooting a terrible score, what’s the worst-case scenario for someone taking a golf vacation? How about arriving at their destination only to find out their golf clubs are nowhere to be found. This type of thing really happens.
In terms of trip cancellations, it’s hurricane season. If you planned a trip months in advance, you may have had no idea what type of severe weather (if any) would be in the area. The same goes for people traveling in the winter. Snow storms cause trip cancellations as well.
Could you possibly already be covered?
Your homeowners’ and renters’ policies may provide coverage for theft and other losses away from home. Your life insurance policy most likely covers you and your family while you travel.
Along with your homeowners’ and renters’ policies, be sure to check with your credit card company and auto club memberships. Many credit card companies offer extra lost baggage protection and insurance for car rental damages.
Check out a third-party insurer.
The safest way to obtain secure coverage is through an established insurance company. While travel agents, tour operators and cruise lines all offer travel insurance, all have the potential to go bankrupt, which would cause you to lose your coverage.
Don’t be shy; this is your vacation we’re talking about! Don’t wait until it’s too late to find out important information. Find out what natural disasters are covered and what restrictions apply. How much do you get reimbursed in certain situations? What is the trip-cancellation policy? These are all important questions to consider.
What’s the cost?
Say you book a round-trip flight for $150. Airline companies such as Spirit offer travel insurance for an extra $14 per person. The coverage contains a bunch of fine print that explains trip cancellations are covered up to $300, baggage and lost personal items up to $500, and baggage delay up to $100. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth paying the extra cash.
In my personal experience, I’ve never paid for travel insurance, and it’s never come back to haunt me. However, it’s important to consider that I generally only take a few pair of shorts and T-shirts when I fly down to Florida for the week. If I were to take along more expensive items, travel insurance is certainly something I’d consider. The other factor is the cost of the flight. If your flight is much more expensive than the $150 that I usually pay, an extra $14 might be worth it to protect yourself from cancellations or lost baggage.
What do you think? Has anyone not purchased travel insurance and later wished they had? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!