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Should You Buy Travel Insurance?

You clicked the 'Book Flight' button, and perhaps even booked your hotel already. One question that you might ponder next is “Do I need travel insurance?” Well, ok, maybe it’s not high on your list of priorities, but travel insurance is something to consider, especially if you’ll be flying abroad.

Often when planning a trip, especially if you plan to fly or take a cruise, you’re purchasing tickets and making reservations sometimes months in advance, locking yourself into your vacation.  In order to get the best rates and find availability, sometimes you need to plan ahead. However, suppose you get sick or someone else gets sick. Suppose you lose your job. Suddenly that vacation doesn’t seem like such a good idea. But since you’ve already shelled out the dough for the tickets, you’re stuck.

That’s where travel insurance comes in. By purchasing travel insurance, you can be reimbursed for those unforeseen problems that prevent you from traveling. Of course, you’ll need to have legitimate reasons for canceling, which we’ll cover below. Travel insurance also helps to protect your belongings when traveling, and acts as medical insurance when your health insurance doesn’t extend out of the country.

What Plan do you Need?

Not all travel insurance companies are treated equal. When selecting a travel insurance company, keep the following criteria in mind:

Length of Coverage

The right policy will cover you for the entire time that you are away, whether you are traveling for a week or a year. Many policies become very expensive once your travels extend beyond a month, so you may need to shop for specialized long-term policies.


Your insurance should cover anything you do on your trip. Activities such as jet-skiing are excluded from many policies, so if you are an active traveler you will need to extend your policy or shop for a specialized policy.

Medical Insurance 

Medical coverage is premium when traveling abroad. Your policy should include emergency medical treatment, hospitalization and repatriation. The policy should also include personal accident and personal liability coverage. Look for a policy that offers 24-hour emergency service, so that you can get help immediately if you get sick or injured while on your trip.


Make sure that the policy includes coverage for belongings that you will be taking along on the trip. This should include money and important documents. You may also want to include supplements for lost luggage.

Trip Cancellation Policies

Your trip cancellation policy should start as soon as you purchase your insurance and should cover you until you leave for the trip. You should also have coverage if you need to return from your trip early. Read the fine print for exclusions from your cancellation policy and make sure you are covered for the following reasons:

Illness & Injury

Not only for yourself, but for traveling companions, family members and business partners.

Airline or Cruise Line Cancellations

Your insurance should cover you for unannounced strikes or bankruptcy that causes your flight or cruise to be cancelled for more than 48 consecutive hours.


Cancellations of your flight or cruise for more than 48 consecutive hours due to weather should also be covered. (One important note here: most policies will not cover a trip cancellation to your destination due to inclement weather unless your flight has been cancelled for 48 consecutive hours. Keep this in mind when planning that trip to Bermuda during hurricane season. Simply purchasing insurance with the intent to cancel should a storm pop up will not necessarily get you out of the trip.)

Layoffs & Firing 

If you’ve worked for the same employer for at least three years (length of time may vary from policy to policy) and you get canned, you should be able to get out of your trip.


If your home is robbed or damaged so that you cannot live in it.

Military Duty

If you or your traveling companion is called to emergency military duty other than war.


Not all policies offer coverage for this, so if you are traveling to a country with a high risk of terrorism, you may want to splurge for a better policy.

Choosing the Right Policy

Costs and plans can vary widely, so it is important to shop around for the policy best suited to your needs. A less expensive policy is likely to offer less coverage so make sure that you examine the fine print when choosing your insurance to get a full understanding of what is excluded.

If you are traveling abroad for a long period of time, you may want to forgo the traditional trip coverage options and look instead for long-term medical coverage, since many policies do not offer comprehensive plans for extended periods of time.


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