Should You Buy Travel Insurance Before a Trip?
You might think the two largest decisions you need to make when booking a trip is how you’re going to get there and where you’re going to stay. Whether or not you buy travel insurance is another question worth asking. In many cases, getting travel insurance is a good decision to cover your non-refundable travel expenses. I’ll explain why.
When to Buy Travel Insurance
While you’re never required to buy travel insurance, it’s a good idea for more expensive trips. The last thing you want to see is thousands of dollars in non-refundable purchases evaporate because of an unforeseen event.
You can follow these below tips to you help you decide when travel insurance is worth it.
Book Within 15 Days of Trip Purchase
To qualify for full coverage, you almost always have to buy travel insurance within 15 days of booking your trip. Waiting until the last minute to add a policy gives the impression to the insurance provider that you’re trying to game the system.
You might also be required to notify the insurance provider within 72 hours of your cancellation intent. The longer you wait to get a policy means the less opportunity you have to cancel and file a reimbursement claim.
Also, if you buy travel insurance after a jeopardizing headline is released, your claim might be declined too. For example, you won’t be covered if you buy a travel insurance policy after the imminent hurricane becomes common knowledge.
Supplement Your Credit Card Trip Protection Benefits
Rewards credit cards like the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve come with complimentary trip protection benefits. These benefits reimburse non-refundable travel purchases, cover incidental delay-related expenses, and even offer primary rental car collision damage waiver protection.
While these trip protection benefits are great and cover common trip cancellation claims, you may still want travel insurance for these benefits:
- Emergency Medical Visits and Transportation
- Pre-Existing Conditions
- Change Fee Coverage
- Extreme Sports
Each destination has different activities and risks. Travel insurance helps protect against the unexpected.
A primary incentive to get travel insurance can be for the emergency medical assistance. Without these benefits, you can easily spend over $10,000 out-of-pocket for treatment and transportation expenses. This can be especially true if you’re vacationing internationally or in a remote area, where medical costs can be higher than usual.
Your Non-Refundable Travel Expenses Exceed Credit Card Benefits
While your credit card might reimburse up to $5,000 in non-refundable expenses, your trip might costs thousands of dollars more. In addition to the supplemental coverage, you can also receive a large reimbursement for the purchases your credit card can’t fully refund.
More Flexible Reimbursement Policies
Travel insurance typically has more lenient reimbursement policies than travel provider policies. Although you still need to submit supporting documentation in most cases, the small cost of buying a policy is worth the potential payout.
Some reasons why you might buy travel insurance include:
- Cancel for Any Reason
- Unexpected Work Requirements
- Military Deployment
- Personal or Family Illness
- Legal Divorce or Separation
- Travel Provider Goes Bankrupt
Once again, each insurance provider has different cancellation policies and notification requirement. Allianz is one of the most flexible with 26 different covered cancellation reasons.
Because the nature of insurance is to protect against the unprotected, you might only be covered if an unexpected event happens. If it looks like you have a 50-50 chance of making the trip because of personal or business reasons, it’s probably best to skip the trip altogether. Travel insurance might reimburse your purchases, but you might not want to take that chance.
Times You Shouldn’t Buy Travel Insurance
Although travel insurance provides additional peace of mind, it’s not always a wise purchase. These are some cases when you shouldn’t buy travel insurance.
Your Trip Cost Is Relatively Low
If you’re only driving five hours to visit distant relatives, you probably don’t need travel insurance. The reason why is that you might only lose a couple hundred dollars in non-refundable expenses instead of several thousand. Losing money is never fun, but buying insurance for every small trip can cost more than the payout benefits when you finally file a claim.
If your only expenses are plane tickets and hotel rooms, the carrier might reimburse or offer credit. Travel insurance reimbursement only happens if the travel provider doesn’t offer reimbursement first.
You Already Have Trip Protection Benefits
Your car insurance provider or travel credit card might already offer rental car collision and theft protection. Getting travel insurance, primarily duplicate coverage means you’re paying extra for marginal benefits. That’s money you could be spending on your vacation instead.
Before booking travel insurance, check your current credit card and insurance benefits guide first. It also makes sense to check the travel provider’s cancellation policy. If you travel during hurricane season or a region’s snowy season, you need to see how they treat inclement weather cancellations. Verify their personal reason cancellation policies as well. You may be able to get a one-year credit to rebook your trip.
You Wait Too Long
To get the best rates and coverage amounts, you need to buy travel insurance within 10 to 15 days of booking your travel reservations. After this date, you might have to pay a higher premium or settle for a reduced policy.
If your personal or work circumstances change after the travel booking date but before you buy a policy, you can also jeopardize your claim eligibility. Although the odds of this happening might be slim, it still happens.
If a hurricane (or another extreme event) develops and becomes public knowledge, you’re probably too late. The early bird gets the worm, especially when it comes to travel insurance.
Travel insurance can be a financial blessing for large, non-refundable travel expenses. Whether they stem from medical reasons, extreme weather, or local events, travel insurance can be worth its weight in gold. Even if it doesn’t make sense to buy travel insurance for this trip, familiarize yourself with policies and with your credit card travel benefits for future planning.