Travelers, Don't Set Foot on a Plane Without This Financial Safety Net

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  • Travel is unpredictable right now, with a lot of cancellations, delays, and lost baggage.
  • Travel insurance can help you mitigate the financial effects of all this chaos.

Spending just a half hour researching this could save you a fortune later.

You've probably seen the news stories about all the flight delays, cancellations, and lost luggage this summer. I experienced all three on my trip to Greece in June, and it was rough on me and my wallet.

While there's nothing I could've done to stop those things from happening to me, I definitely could've taken more steps to protect my money before I left. Here's the one thing I really wish I'd done, and I'm now recommending it to anyone thinking about traveling soon.

A little insurance goes a long way

It's been over a month since I returned from my trip and, while I've filed claims with the airline, I've yet to see a dime. Travel insurance could've helped me get the money I needed to cover my unexpected bills a lot faster.

Exact coverage options vary by policy, but most travel insurance policies cover the following:

  • Trip cancellation: Travelers who are forced to cancel a trip due to a natural disaster, an unforeseen medical emergency, or another covered reason are reimbursed for the trip's costs up to the policy limit.
  • Trip interruption: Travelers who need to return home from their trip early due to a covered reason can file a travel insurance claim for any costs associated with this last-minute return.
  • Travel delay: Those who incur additional expenses, like hotel or transportation costs, due to a travel delay, can file a travel insurance claim. The same goes for those who miss out on prepaid expenses, like an excursion, due to a delay.
  • Baggage delay: Travel insurance reimburses travelers for items they had to buy in the interim if their bag is lost on their trip.
  • Lost or damaged baggage: If an airline loses or damages luggage, travel insurance will pay travelers for their lost or damaged items.
  • Emergency medical care: Standard health insurance may not cover care at the trip location, so travel insurance provides emergency medical and dental benefits. Many also cover emergency medical transportation costs.
  • Rental car: Some travel insurance plans include auto insurance for rental cars.
  • Change fee: A travel insurance policy may reimburse the traveler for any fees they incur if they have to change their travel dates due to a covered reason.

But travel insurance, like most other kinds of insurance, has its limitations. Some may impose a waiting period before benefits kick in. There might also be limits on how long a travel or baggage delay must be before they qualify for reimbursement. Policies also don't cover things like:

  • Cancellation for any reason
  • Pregnancy-related expenses
  • Refundable reservations
  • Injuries due to adventure sports

That's why it's a good idea to read the travel insurance policy's fine print before purchasing one. Those who have questions should reach out to the company to clarify so they don't encounter any surprises when they go to file a claim.

How to get travel insurance

Before looking into a dedicated travel insurance policy, see what your credit card offers. Many travel credit cards offer some of these perks, like rental car insurance, already. If this is the case, it doesn't make sense for you to pay for an additional policy.

Those who decide to buy travel insurance can find policies offered by several well-known property and casualty insurers. There are also a number of specialty insurers that sell travel insurance exclusively. Either can be a good fit, as long as they're financially strong and they have great customer service with flexible policies.

Interested travelers can look up the company's financial strength ratings with independent agencies like AM Best and S&P Global Ratings. Each has its own rating system, but anything with an A or better is generally pretty strong. That suggests the company is financially able to pay out claims when necessary.

It's also a good idea to dig into their customer service ratings online. This can alert travelers to possible problems that others experienced with the company.

Finally, get quotes from several companies and compare their coverage options and pricing. Go for the one that offers the greatest value for the money. Focusing on price alone could backfire if the traveler has to file a claim later.

You may never need to use travel insurance, but if you find yourself in a similar situation to me this summer, trust me, you'll be glad you have it. At the least, take some time to look into it and see if it fits into your vacation budget before making any decisions.

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