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Should I Purchase Travel Insurance?

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Thank you for all the tips that you provide for traveling! I have a question regarding travel insurance, as I am going on a trip in March to Italy via ABC Tours, and was unsure as to whether I should purchase travel insurance or not. Thank you so much for your time.
-Sally S.

This is one of those age-old questions with no definitive answer. It’s estimated that 30 percent of Americans purchase travel insurance, which is a drastic increase since 9/11, when less than 10 percent of travelers were insured.

If you’re flying on a $150 ticket to see Aunt Irma in Wisconsin, you probably don’t need travel insurance. But on a trip such as yours, travel insurance can come in handy if something unexpectedly disrupts your trip. Your first step is to compare the cost of the trip versus the cost of the policy.

The most common situations when travel insurance comes in handy are:

  • Your flight is canceled
  • Your passport and wallet are stolen
  • You require medical treatment while abroad
  • You need to cancel your trip due to illness
  • An unexpected hurricane hits your destination
  • Your airline/cruise line/tour company go bankrupt

Reasons NOT to purchase travel insurance are:

  • You’re afraid of terrorism
  • A hurricane is going to hit your destination (this applies if the storm has already been named by the National Weather Service)
  • Your pet is ill
  • Your flight is delayed for so long that you want to cancel

One major caveat: Never purchase travel insurance from the same tour operator or cruise line with which you’re traveling. If that company goes out of business, there may not be money to cover your claim. Use a third-party provider (that includes travel agents).

Also, don’t forget about medical insurance. Even if you are covered for basic emergency care overseas, in almost all cases, your current health insurance does NOT cover you to evacuate you and fly you back to the U.S. Something called “Medical Evacuation and Repatriation” insurance comes in handy here. You pay a yearly fee, and if you get sick or injured overseas, the policy will get you treated, stabilized and flown back to the U.S. to the hospital of your choice, not theirs. There are a number of good companies that provide this type of plan, such as MedJet Assist.

Get more answers to your travel questions in our Ask Peter section.

Or learn about Hurricane Guarantees and “Hurricane-Free” Islands to ensure your trip isn’t interrupted by weather.

You can also learn about medical evacuation insurance in a previous Ask Peter question.