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Frustrated TravelerWe were recently asked that question. People want to know if travel insurance is "worth it" and if so, what to look for in a policy.

Travel insurance is just as important as any other insurance. You would never think of driving your car without automobile insurance or go without home owner's or renter's coverage. Part of the trip planning routine should be securing a good travel insurance policy. There are so many perils that may befall the person prior to departing as well as while on that long awaited trip.

In my 20-plus years in the industry, I see that the most frequently used benefit is pre-departure cancellation. When one is planning an exciting vacation, the last thing you want to think about is the need to cancel that trip. Even if you are hale and hearty and ready to go, there are things other than your own illness or accident that can disrupt those plans.

  • A family member's unexpected illness or death can put an end to your well-laid plans. What happens if the operator or cruise line you are using suddenly declares bankruptcy and you are out all the funds you have paid? Travel insurance can offer relief in such situations.
  • Travel insurance can be a saving grace when you are on your trip and have to return home due to your illness or a family member's illness or death. You can be reimbursed for the unused travel arrangements as well as the additional ticket cost to return to your home.
  • The insurance can certainly come in handy if, while traveling, you have an accident or become gravely ill and need emergency evacuation, hospitalization, and then transportation home. Those expenses can run into thousands of dollars and many foreign hospitals will not release you without full payment or at least a guarantee of payment. The insurance company's assistance service can get involved to help facilitate the payment guarantees as well as arrange, oversee, and cover the medically necessary evacuation.
  • If you are traveling alone and are hospitalized for an extended period, most policies will bring a family member to your bedside.
  • There are also the simple things provided by travel insurance policies such as baggage delay to reimburse for some of the emergency items needed if you arrive and your bags don't. Or Trip Delay benefits that would provide a daily amount for additional accommodations if travel is delayed.

All of the above are some features that should be available in a good travel insurance policy. There are also policies available, at a higher premium, that will cover a percentage of your loss if you cancel for any reason at all.

There are things you should look for when in the market for Travel Insurance in addition to the benefits above.

  • Be sure that it is insurance underwritten by an insurance company and not simply a waiver. Many waivers offered by travel suppliers will only offer vouchers to replace the trip at a later date with no refunded cash.
  • Also be aware that most policies will not cover the financial default of the organization providing the travel.
  • It is also very important that the policy you purchase offers a 24-hour assistance phone number. You need to be able to reach help if the need arises.

Travel insurance is a wise investment any time you travel away from home and especially if there are travel costs involved. It is extremely valuable if you are traveling outside the country and experience a situation where language barriers could cause difficulty in communication. An emergency medical evacuation to a medical facility or back home could be very costly. When difficulties arise, having travel insurance in place can seem a small price to pay.

So the answer to the question is: Of course!