Travel Insurance: Do I Need it and What Type Should I Get?

Travel Insurance: Do I Need it and What Type Should I Get?

June 8, 2020 | By Nafeesah Allen

Travel insurance is meant to protect you and your belongings during a trip, but deciding whether or not to get it, and choosing the right plan, can be overwhelming and confusing. Different parts of travel insurance cover different things: medical coverage if you get sick; baggage/personal items loss/damage in case anything is lost by you, an airline, or is simply stolen; trip cancellation in case your personal plans change by want or necessity; and personal liability in case of car accidents. Most travel experts recommend getting some kind of travel insurance, but it’s best to weigh your options to decide if you need it and what plan will work best for you.  We’ve laid out some basics to help you decide!

Do I need travel insurance?

How long is my trip? The longer your trip the higher the probability that something, even minor, might go wrong. A weekend getaway implies less luggage and a short time span to have something go missing. If you’re planning to backpack through Europe for three months, though, you might want to look into having some insurance protection.  

What are the weather conditions? Hurricane season results in lots of canceled and delayed flights that could put a damper on your plans. At the very least, you’ll want to have trip cancellation insurance. Other natural disasters can also strike at any time, so check the seasons to weigh your odds.

Might I need medical care? If you’re the person to always get food poisoning, or run into a door, or forget that they drive on the other side of the road, you may want to consider travel insurance. Also, if you plan on doing any crazy activities, like dipping into shark-infested waters, yeah you might need medical coverage.

Am I worried about my belongings?  If you’re planning to travel with old clothes that you can easily do away with, you might not care if your bag gets lost in Thailand, where you could cheaply replace your wardrobe. However, if you’re into vintage, designer, and bespoke items, you’ll certainly want to get reimbursed for having to replace those items. Are you traveling with your laptop or a new drone to take some awesome aerial shots? Calculate the value of your items to decide if insurance coverage is a worthwhile investment.

If your answers reveal that you do need travel protection, then you’re left with finding a plan that meets your needs. 

Some things to consider when purchasing travel insurance

To start with you can check the insurance you already have to confirm that separate travel coverage is not redundant. For example, the credit card you used to purchase the trip may already offer trip cancellation, rental car, and baggage loss perks. Even your current renters, homeowners, or car insurance might offer protections for loss and/or liability. 

Travel vendors offer coverage, but you’re better off getting a plan from an insurance company that specializes in this type of protection. You’ll save money going straight to the source and get better coverage.  

Read the details of the policy you’re considering buying, review how to make a claim, and know what to expect by way of reimbursement. Some luggage protection packages reimburse the full replacement cost of any lost item, but others will only offer funds for items with receipts or only up to a certain maximum dollar value. After losing an antique gold bracelet in Brazil, I was thankful when my insurance covered the full replacement cost, which was 5 times the cost my mom bought it for back in the 80s. These are the details to look out for.

This fine print is also major when it comes to emergency health insurance. Some packages are by reimbursement only. Meaning, if you get sick, you pay the local provider and file a claim later. That may be easy enough for minor scrapes and illnesses, but you want to be clear about what will happen if you break a limb or need an airlift. Ultimately, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Find good options

If you decide to buy separate travel insurance coverage go with a company with a good reputation for speedy claims processing and competitive pricing. Forbes ranked Allianz, Amex, and Generali at the top of their list of favorite travel insurance companies. Berkshire Hathaway also offers a very popular and affordable ‘Air Care’ plan just for flight-related mishaps.

If you are a frequent traveler, you may find better value and benefit from annual plans offered by and Travel Guard, which allow you to have high-quality coverage all year round. You can search Square Mouth and Insure My Trip to compare value and prices.

World Nomads is a good place to consider a range of insurance available for long sojourns and for thrill-seekers. They explicitly have health, emergency medical, and death coverage for people engaging in adventure sports, like cage fighting or skydiving. This is a rare find, as many insurance companies exclude these high-risk activities. 

If you have unique personal circumstances or health conditions, pick up the phone to learn more about how each company would handle your situation and consider a personalized package.

Like travel, insurance is multi-faceted and customizable. Remember that making the “right choice” is really about making the right choice for you. 



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