17% of the people (one out of every six) who buy travel insurance have a claim at some point. 

More and more, travelers are realizing that travel insurance can be a wise financial decision when planning a trip, especially when traveling internationally. Purchasing travel insurance protects your vacation investment, your belongings and most importantly, you from unforeseen events that can happen before or during a trip.

While many people think they may never need travel insurance, statistics show otherwise. In fact, 17% of the people (one out of every six) who buy travel insurance have a claim at some point.1 Eliminating the financial risk of losing you travel investment gives you peace of mind so you can enjoy your vacation. While traveling, your medical bills, delay expenses, baggage losses and much more are covered, as well.

Many travelers assume their medical insurance, homeowners policy or credit card will cover them on the road, but this is not often true. Many medical plans either do not provide out of-country benefits or if coverage is provided, it may be limited and not cover emergency transportation in cases when medical evacuation may be necessary. A medical evacuation can cost tens of thousands of dollars or more.

It is estimated that up to 50% of Medicare recipients (older travelers being the highest risk group) may not be covered at all when traveling abroad.1

Most credit cards do not provide trip cancellation coverage or cover medical expenses, nor reimburse for costs incurred by travel delays. Think your travel supplier will refund all your money? Airlines, cruise lines, hotels and tour operators are under no legal obligation to do so, and all have conditions in their literature detailing the penalties that will be assessed if you cancel or interrupt your trip. What about weather delays? Airlines are not required to reimburse you for overnight delays, or pay for lost vacation time. Hotels often charge non-refundable deposits ranging from one night to the entire stay, no matter the reason.

Travel insurance plans are designed to cover both you and the cost of your travel arrangements against a variety of unforeseeable reasons that may affect you or your travel plans. Most plans contain a package of benefits including:

Trip Cancellation – What if you are unable to take your planned trip and some (if not all) of your payments are non-refundable? This benefit covers the non-refundable trip costs when you must cancel your travel plans for an unforeseeable reason. The more reasons that are covered the better the plan.

When deciding to purchase travel insurance, many people consider only their own health. For example it is not uncommon for younger people to assume that because they are healthy, travel insurance is not needed. But what if your parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, aunts or uncles become ill or are injured? Remember travel insurance covers you if something happens to you or to any of these people, causing you to cancel your trip.

Trip Interruption – Your child is sick at home and you need to return home early from your trip. How do you get your money back for the remaining time you will miss? This benefit covers the cost of your unused, non-refundable land or water travel arrangements and the additional air expense to either resume your trip or return home, if you interrupt your travel plans and/or return home early from your trip for the same types of reasons covered for Trip Cancellation.

Medical Expense/Emergency Assistance – This benefit reimburses you for medical treatment during your trip if you become sick or are injured while traveling. Additionally, air transport expenses (such as upgraded air arrangements, air ambulance, including doctor or nurse escort expenses) for medical evacuation are covered, if required to obtain the level of care needed for your condition.

Missed Connection – What if you miss your connecting flight due to an “act of nature” (such as bad weather or other situations outside of an airline’s control)? You may be forced to pay for the alternate arrangements to join your trip. The Missed Connection Benefit covers the cost of these additional arrangements when you miss your flight connection due to a carrier delay, generally of three hours or more.

Travel Delay– If you are stranded overnight in a connecting city due to bad weather, the travel delay benefit covers your hotel stay and meals.

Remember, airlines don’t pay these expenses unless they are responsible for your delay.

Baggage and Baggage Delay – What happens if your bags are lost or delayed? While your 17% of the people (one out of every six) who buy travel insurance have a claim at some point. personal articles are generally covered by homeowners insurance, most policies have significant deductibles and possibly coinsurance limitations. The baggage benefit provides coverage on your baggage and personal items without deductible or coinsurance requirements. If your bags are delayed for a covered reason, the baggage delay benefit reimburses you for the purchase of toiletries and personal articles during the delay.

Cancel For Any Reason Benefit– While travel insurance policies routinely cover canceling a trip for many reasons, what if your reason for not going just isn’t covered? Many travel insurers now offer a benefit that allows you to cancel your trip for any reason whatsoever and still be reimbursed for most of your non-refundable trip costs. To be eligible for this coverage, the plan generally must be purchased within a specified period of time (often 15 days or so) after you have made your initial payment for your trip and you usually must cancel your trip prior to your scheduled departure (often 2 days or more). Non-covered medical conditions, divorces, canceled wedding plans, economic hardships, a change in plans, are just a few of the types of reasons not typically covered under Trip Cancellation, but covered under Cancel For Any Reason.

Go to www.ustia.orgto learn more about travel insurance. The US Travel Insurance Association has developed this site to provide consumers with a wealth of information about travel insurance, its members and general travel information, as well.