So you’ve booked an awesome trip and are ready to sit back and wait for your vacation date to arrive. There’s just one more detail to sort out: travel insurance.
Talk to some people, and they’ll insist that travel insurance is a major waste of money. After all, you’re paying for coverage in the event that something goes wrong, which you obviously hope won’t be the case.
Here’s the thing though: When it comes to traveling, things can and do go wrong. All the time. From flight delays to lost luggage to stolen property, there are a number of wild card factors that could turn an otherwise fun vacation into a hassle-ridden nightmare.
When the Unexpected Strikes
Take it from someone who almost got stranded on an exotic island, which may not sound like a bad thing in theory, but could’ve been disastrous in practice. Years ago, my husband and I spent some time traveling in Australia and New Zealand, and knowing we’d most likely never get the chance to return to that part of the world, we decided to pop over to Fiji for a long weekend before heading back home. We booked a room at a resort and were ready to enjoy a weekend of relaxation and bliss, when halfway through our stay, the weather took a turn for the worse. The next thing you knew, a cyclone hit, flooding the island and grounding any and all scheduled flights, ours included.
Of course, our canceled flight almost didn’t matter since the roads to the airport were impassible. We were looking at being stuck on the island for several extra nights, which meant not only missing more work than we’d anticipated, but having to pay an exorbitant price for lodging. We’d snagged our hotel room for 50 percent off the going rate by booking through a discount site in advance, but when it appeared we were stranded, we were only offered the full-price rate for any extra nights we’d need.
Thankfully we had travel insurance, which covered us not only for the additional nights of lodging, but for things like food and transportation to the airport. (Did I mention they had to send a helicopter to get us out?) As if that wasn’t harrowing enough, once we got back home and accessed our luggage, we discovered that several items of value had been stolen out of my husband’s suitcase — items he simply couldn’t fit in his carry-on. Once again, our travel insurance saved the day, because we wound up getting reimbursed for those items in full.
It’s Worth It
While my husband and I were skeptical about buying travel insurance at first, in the end, we’re so thankful we got it. And it’s not just us. I have a friend who purchased travel insurance with a provision allowing her to cancel her trip for an 80 percent refund for any reason whatsoever. A few days before her vacation, her daughter got sick and they couldn’t go. Instead of losing almost $3,000, they only lost about $600.
Ultimately, the reason you need travel insurance boils down to this: Things happen. Just as you need health insurance to protect yourself from unforeseen medical emergencies, so too can travel insurance be a lifesaver when the unexpected smacks you in the face. You should especially purchase travel insurance if you’re dealing with a complex, multi-stop itinerary or traveling with young children. For just four to eight percent of the price of your trip, you can purchase the coverage you need, and given the cost of travel these days, that’s not a lot to pay for some added protection and peace of mind.