Big Money-Saving Benefits of Travel Insurance

Thinking of skipping travel insurance on your next trip? Think again! Money Girl, Laura Adams, explains the benefits of travel insurance, gives 5 tips to buy the best policy, and even where to shop for the best plan.

Laura Adams, MBA
5-minute read
Episode #683
The Quick And Dirty

Travel insurance is affordable protection that offers many benefits to keep you safe and make your trip more enjoyable. Once you understand all the coverage available, you might never skip a travel policy again!

If you love the idea of traveling but are worried that your plans could backfire due to a pandemic-related issues or other unforeseen mishaps, it's time to learn more about travel insurance. Having the protection of a travel policy can be just the ticket to help you feel confident about chasing adventure this year.

While you might be thinking that travel insurance is an unnecessary expense, I've found it to be surprisingly affordable. This episode will explain the benefits of travel insurance, tips to buy the best policy, where to shop, and when purchasing travel insurance makes financial sense. Once you understand its significant benefits, you'll never skip travel insurance again!

What is travel insurance?

A travel policy is an often-overlooked coverage that you can customize based on where you're going, the risks you face along the journey, and your personal circumstances. Similar to different types of car insurance, travel insurance is a bundle of individual coverages. 

Travel insurance can protect you from various situations ranging from an inconvenience (such as losing your luggage or getting stranded due to bad weather) to having a life-threatening medical emergency requiring an airlift to the nearest hospital.

Keep reading to find out five primary coverages you get from a travel policy.

What does travel insurance cover?

Getting travel insurance is all about having peace of mind and saving money when unexpected expenses pop up during a trip. Here are five coverages that can make travel insurance a wise purchase that enhances your vacation:

1. Luggage 

Missing, delayed, or damaged baggage could put a real damper on your vacation. This coverage reimburses you for lost items and pays a daily amount for purchasing essentials. 

If you have homeowners or renters insurance, it gives you a certain amount of off-premises coverage for damaged or stolen items. But travel insurance pays for the inconvenience and what is not covered by your home policy.

2. Trip cancellation 

When you book a vacation requiring prepayment, having trip cancellation protects you from not getting a refund or being charged additional fees. It allows you to cancel for covered reasons, such as poor health, changes in your work schedule, a death in your family, or bad weather at your destination.

3. Trip interruption 

If you begin a vacation but find that you have to return home for covered reasons, you'll get reimbursed for the unused portion of your trip. Covered reasons usually include changes in your work schedule, the death of a family member, or medical issues. 

Interruption coverage also includes any additional travel expenses for getting home at the last minute. It may cover meals and hotel stays if your trip gets delayed or you miss critical transportation connections for any reason.

If you want to make sure that you could pull the plug on a trip before you go or once you're on it, most travel insurers offer a "cancel for any reason" policy. It may cost more but is worthwhile if you suspect that you or anyone in your family could need to return home in the middle of a prepaid vacation.

4. Medical coverage

If you've never gotten sick on a trip, consider yourself lucky! When traveling, particularly if you're going abroad, make sure you know what would happen if you got into an accident or came down with an illness. 

Unfortunately, most health insurance plans, including Medicare, offer minimal coverage when you're outside the U.S. So, check your health plan and make sure you understand the costs you'd have to pay.

Unfortunately, most health insurance plans, including Medicare, offer zero to minimal coverage when you're outside the U.S. So, check your health plan and make sure you understand the costs you'd have to pay if something goes wrong during your travels.

The medical coverage you get with travel insurance is a wise way to fill your health insurance gaps when you leave the country or travel outside your existing insurance network. It covers new illnesses, emergencies, and routine care. If you purchase it far enough in advance of your trip, a policy may cover any pre-existing health conditions.

If you travel to at-risk countries or plan to do any extreme sports, medical travel coverage may cost more; however, it's a must. Never hide any potential dangers from an insurer. If they find out you were dishonest, they could deny your claims. 

Related: 6 Tips to Find Affordable Health Insurance When You Become Self-Employed 

5. Emergency evacuation

If you have a severe medical illness or injury, you may need emergency transportation to the nearest hospital. It could cost tens of thousands of dollars and typically isn't covered by health insurance or Medicare.

An evacuation may be part of travel medical coverage, or you may need to select it as a separate option. Be sure to read the terms carefully and choose policies with the most inclusions for the lowest price.

Where can I shop for travel insurance?

When you're ready to plan your next trip, do your homework by checking out travel insurance reviews. As I previously mentioned, many policies require you to purchase a plan at least two weeks in advance, so don't wait until the last minute.

Not all travel insurers offer the same protections, so it's wise to get quotes from at least two or three companies. You might consider shopping these top travel insurers:

5 tips for purchasing the best travel insurance

  1. Plan your trip early. While you might score a last-minute deal on a flight or cruise, you shouldn't delay shopping and purchasing travel insurance. Getting a policy more than 21 days from your departure may make you eligible for specific options, such as a "cancel for any reason" provision or a waiver of pre-existing health conditions.
  2. Compare multiple policies. Travel insurance comparison sites, such as TravelInsurance.com, give you an easy way to search, compare, and purchase a policy from a top insurer. That allows you to make apples-to-apples comparisons and find the best price. 
  3. Check out a group travel policy. If you are traveling with a group of ten or more, buying group travel insurance can be cost-effective. In general, they don't factor a traveler's age, allowing an 80-year-old to pay the same rate as a 30-year-old. That makes a group policy more affordable for seniors.
  4. Evaluate annual travel insurance. If you travel frequently, consider that a single-trip plan can cost about half the cost of a yearly package. Therefore, if you plan to take over two major trips a year, you'll get more value from annual travel insurance. 
  5. Consider your upfront costs. The more you must prepay for a vacation, the more you could lose if a trip doesn’t go as planned or you have to cut it short for work or family obligations.

About the Author

Laura Adams, MBA

Laura Adams received an MBA from the University of Florida. She's an award-winning personal finance author, speaker, and consumer advocate who is a frequent, trusted source for the national media. Money-Smart Solopreneur: A Personal Finance System for Freelancers, Entrepreneurs, and Side-Hustlers is her newest title. Laura's previous book, Debt-Free Blueprint: How to Get Out of Debt and Build a Financial Life You Love, was an Amazon #1 New Release. Do you have a money question? Call the Money Girl listener line at 302-364-0308. Your question could be featured on the show.