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Travel Insurance

Whether you are planning your first trip abroad or just a weekend excursion to the mountains, you should ask yourself whether or not you need travel insurance. While it's not required, a lot of travel sites push customers to purchase travel insurance. It's rare to not see some type of "Protect Your Trip" line item at the end of your list of travel fees. But when is it necessary, and when is it just optional?

Insurance coverage and consumer protection laws are different in every state. If you want to protect your dream vacation or are having trouble getting reimbursed for travel expenses, talk to a consumer protection lawyer where you live.

Who Needs Travel Insurance?

Most American travelers don't need travel insurance plans for short domestic trips. For a week-long stay at Disney World or a romantic weekend trip, the extra expense may not be necessary.

However, there are some circumstances where travel insurance is recommended. If you are booking a group vacation or an international trip, it may be a good idea to spend the extra money on travel insurance. Even the U.S. State Department recommends travel insurance for travelers, noting that the government does not provide insurance or medical evacuation, and does not pay medical expenses or unexpected costs.

Travel insurance is also a good idea for older travelers, those with a history of illness, or a large group of small children. Insurance may also be recommended for very long trips or active vacations involving scuba diving or adventure sports. You never know when a medical issue will arise that may prevent you from being able to go through with your plans. Insurance can provide peace of mind while you are far from home.

What Is Travel Insurance For?

Travel insurance is supposed to cover your expenses if you miss your flight or lose your luggage. In some cases, it also provides reimbursement if you cancel your trip due to illness or natural disaster. Many credit card companies offer the same protections as airline travel insurance. Check with your credit card company before deciding whether or not to buy the extra insurance coverage. You should also check your existing medical insurance coverage to see if it covers emergency medical care while out of the country.

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Like other forms of insurance, you may not need it, until you do. Most travelers never purchase travel insurance but if they run into trouble when overseas, it can become an expensive problem. Travelers may have their vacation ruined by flight cancellations, natural disasters, political upheaval, car accidents, or medical emergency. Travel insurance may cover many of these unexpected emergencies.

If you are not sure if you should purchase travel insurance before a big trip, get a quote. You may find the cost of travel insurance with a reputable travel insurance provider to be very reasonable, especially considering the risks of travel in another country. ​

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance coverage depends on the individual policy. There are different types of travel insurance, including long-term policies to cover multiple trips to different countries. Types of travel insurance coverage and add-ons include:

  • Travel medical coverage
  • Emergency evacuation
  • Trip cancellation, trip delay, or trip interruption
  • Baggage delay and damage
  • Rental car coverage
  • 24-hour assistance services
  • Accidental death or dismemberment
  • Adventure sports coverage

Trip cancellation coverage is one of the most common types of coverage that protects your financial investment in travel, including the costs of flights, hotels, and cruises. Before you purchase trip coverage, make sure you understand what is covered, the list of covered reasons for cancellation, and the process for reimbursement after a canceled trip.

Does Travel Insurance Cover COVID and COVID Testing?

Travel insurance has changed a lot in the past few years. Worldwide travel nearly came to a halt in 2020 as countries tried to figure out how to deal with the COVID-19/coronavirus pandemic. This meant many trips were canceled, foreign travelers prohibited from entry, traveler quarantines, and hospitalizations for COVID patients overseas.

Many travel medical insurance policies now cover cancellations related to COVID and medical care for patients who become ill. These epidemic coverage endorsements may also provide trip protections for travelers who have to cancel their flights because of a positive COVID test. Make sure to check your travel insurance policy to see what kind of COVID coverage they provide for trip cancellations and healthcare. ​

Do Tour Companies Provide Travel Insurance?

The insurance provided by tour companies typically includes some sort of medical insurance as well as trip cost coverage for things like missed flights, lost luggage, or replacement attraction/excursion tickets. Make sure to read the fine print, the buyer may still be liable for a small portion of whatever is being replaced.

Typically, travel insurance provided by tour companies and cruise ships will include a cancellation provision. This allows you to cancel your trip, depending on the company and type of trip, up to 60 days before departure with just a minimal transaction fee (usually the cost of the insurance).

Can You Get Travel Insurance After Booking a Flight?

You can generally get travel insurance after you book a flight but you might not be able to get insurance that covers airfare cancellations after the flight has been canceled. It may take 24 hours or more before an insurance policy will go into effect. Some airfares will offer something called trip protection that is not the same as travel insurance. This may just be a waiver that allows you to cancel your trip within a certain amount of time. ​

Travel Insurance or Trip Insurance

Travel insurance, trip insurance, and travel protection are sometimes used interchangeably but they are not necessarily the same thing. In general, trip insurance covers a specific trip. Travel insurance can provide broader protection for travelers embarking on international travel. Before you buy travel insurance, make sure you understand what is covered and the exclusions of the insurance coverage.

Do You Have to Have Travel Insurance?

Some countries require visitors to show proof of insurance. Depending on the country, this could include proof of health insurance, traveler's insurance, COVID coverage, and air ambulance coverage. For some countries, travelers have to purchase insurance coverage from the host country, while others allow private insurance or the visitor's home insurance coverage. Without proper insurance, visitors could be denied entry and have to return to their home country. Make sure to check the travel requirements of any countries you intend to visit on any upcoming trips.

How Can a Lawyer Help With Travel Insurance?

Even after a traveler protects themselves with travel insurance, it may be difficult to get reimbursed by the insurance company. The insurance company may delay payment, claim the loss is not covered, or make other excuses to try and avoid paying out for your claim. If your travel insurance company is not helping you resolve a travel-related claim, contact a consumer protection attorney for help. A lawyer can deal with the insurance company to make sure you get paid for your travel-related losses.