I was recently reading an article in the LA Times about a family emergency that required a costly flight change. Due to unexpected circumstances, the passenger lost over $800 and will most likely have none of it refunded by the airline. Although these experiences are frustrating, they are unfortunately becoming all too common. I often discuss the benefits of travel insurance, and this story is just one more example of why it is worth it.
Just last month, we had four clients who became ill or injured abroad and had declined travel insurance coverage. (Thankfully, all have recovered and are doing well.) One traveler - who agreed to share her story anonymously - slipped on a staircase and severely twisted her ankle. Her bill from the hospital was over $1100. The cost of her insurance would have been less than $90. In a follow-up email to our office, she wrote, "If I could, I would be kicking myself. I kept thinking about all the reasons to not purchase insurance, but you can't prepare for the unknown!"
For some passengers, travel insurance is no longer an option. Many companies now require travelers to purchase a policy as part of their tour package. And yet those with the option still mull over the question of cost vs. benefit: Is insurance worth it?
In my opinion, Yes. Not only do I recommend it to my clients, family members, and friends, but I also make sure to personally purchase coverage before each and every trip abroad. Just like with auto or health insurance, the coverage is not for when things go as planned. The protection is for those unexpected and often costly incidents. And in my many years of travel - on a personal and professional level - I have found that often plans unexpectedly change, someone becomes ill or injured, and/or my flights are cancelled. The cost of my policy is usually only a fraction of what I finally pay out of pocket for airline change fees, hotels, medical assistance, etc - all reimbursed by the insurance company!
Some credit card companies, like American Express, offer insurance coverage to their members. We recommend contacting your card provider to determine the policy inclusions and exclusions. Many plans only offer limited flight and baggage protection, and no coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, or medical expenses.