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You probably expect an insurance guy to say “Yes!—Buy travel insurance.” But au contraire, mon frère. Like any policy, travel insurance isn’t always a given. While insurance brokers, including myself, don’t typically offer travel insurance, it’s easily available through your travel agent, AAA office, tour company or online—so that makes me an impartial 3rd party. Besides, I take an interest in the topic because I travel, too.  First there are the different types: trip delay, trip cancellation, trip interruption, medical evacuation, baggage, travel medical insurance, AD&D, rental car, flight insurance, cruise insurance, golf travel insurance, adventure travel insurance, safari insurance (OK I made that one up) etc. You get the idea.  It’s not always necessary. So when does spending the extra 5–10% of your overall trip cost on travel insurance make sense?

  • If you have a close relative with a serious illness that might affect your trip plans (the definition of “close” varies by policy).
  • If you’re dropping $20K on the vacation of a lifetime.
  • If you’ll be traveling abroad, and/or won’t have access to nearby quality medical care.
  • If you’ll be bungee jumping, deep-sea scuba diving, running with the bulls, etc.
  • If you’ll be traveling to the Atlantic/Gulf/Carribbean regions during hurricane season (typically Jun. 1–Nov. 30).
  • If you’re traveling abroad to a place with civil unrest or prone to natural disasters. 
  • If you’ll be traveling with valuables or medical prescriptions and treatment that will be in your checked luggage.
  • If you booked a non-refundable cruise…and have a connection in Minneapolis…in January. 

When booking travel with your credit card, read your card’s Terms and Conditions for possible coverage they might already provide: Car rentals and lost/stolen bag coverage is pretty common.   The biggest one here is medical insurance when traveling abroad. A lot of times regular health insurance doesn’t travel with you when you leave the U.S. And sometimes medical care in foreign countries is pay-on-the-spot, so travel medical insurance can help expedite payments. Even in seemingly developed countries, simple outpatient things like bug bites and blisters can turn into ridiculous hassles and overshadow the fun of your trip. If you do decide to buy travel insurance, look for coverage that bundles a lot of these basics, e.g. car rental, flight, baggage and medical together under a single travel insurance policy/package. And if you get sick, you’ll need to provide your trip insurer with a physician’s note documenting your illness/ailment. And one more thing—don’t forget to pack a photocopy of your insurance documents to take with you. Happy travels.