Travel Insurance – protecting yourself and your travel investment

If you’re planning a trip, you would be wise to include travel insurance in your travel budget. There are more than a few scenarios that might prevent or interrupt your trip, and most tour operators, airlines, and many online booking sites won’t issue you a refund if you or someone close to you becomes ill or worse, forcing you to stay home. Of course, you want to protect your travel investment, but just how much insurance is necessary?

Before you buy more insurance than you need, check your homeowner, auto, life, and health insurance policies to see what coverage you already have. Some credit card companies now offer coverage for travel expenses booked on your credit card, but you will want to check to make sure that they provide enough coverage. Then consider your risks, and shop accordingly to fill in the gaps. Keep in mind that you should purchase travel insurance as soon as you book your first non-refundable expense. For most travelers that would be their tour deposit or flight. Some carriers and insurance companies may offer you additional coverage such as Cancellation for Any Reason, at no or a nominal additional cost. At the least, you’ll be covered for any of life’s unexpected calamities that may derail your travel plans. You should expect to spend 5-7% of the total cost of your trip on an insurance policy, depending on your age, health, and the level of coverage you want.

Here are the basic types of coverage and where to shop for it:

  • Trip Cancellation / Trip Interruption. Check for a policy that protects you in the event you have a medical emergency or a death in the family that will prevent you from taking the trip. Some policies will allow you to cancel for any reason, others will compensate you for travel delays that include reimbursement for expenses related to flight delays (for any reason) such as lost or stolen luggage and missed connections.
  • Emergency Medical Care. It’s wise to have coverage for this on any trip but particularly if you are taking an active vacation. You’re probably at greater risk of injury on a bicycle tour than on an over-the-road motor coach tour but you could trip and fall on the walk from the rest stop to the bus so, protect yourself no matter what you’re doing on your trip! If you are covered at home through an HMO or a network provider plan, you may not be covered if you become sick or injured in another state or country and receive medical care outside your network.
  • Medical Evacuation. If you sustain a serious injury that requires transport to a hospital by ambulance (or helicopter) and eventual evacuation back home, that can cost upwards of $100,000. It is worth it to insure yourself and have the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are covered for the worst-case scenario.

Stephanie recommends you enlist the help of a licensed travel agent to help you navigate travel insurance and to assist you with bookings of flights, hotels and ground transportation. A travel advisor can be a worthy ally when things don’t do according to plan before or during your trip. Contact her at to discuss your situation and she will be happy to make some recommendations on where to start shopping for coverage.