Is trip insurance worth it?


TRAVEL TIP:  When considering travel insurance, ask yourself a few key questions: Does your activity or destination pose a risk? Is the trip cost an amount you are willing to lose, if something unexpected happens? Does your credit card provide travel benefits?


Dear Venturer,

As we take leaps together from North America to South America, Asia and Africa, unexpected events are things we can certainly enjoy. From getting lost in the alleys of Venice, Italy, to roadside car repairs in Morocco, these unplanned events lead to off-the-beaten-path experiences and memorable travel stories to share.

When traveling overseas though, the likelihood of an injury, illness or trip interruption is higher than staying at home. Especially, as we recently have watched terrorist attacks and military coups challenge our sense of security, take lives and disrupt travel plans. 

Our upcoming trip to Albania this September highlights some of our trip insurance needs. We will be hiking for several days in the Albanian Alps, and afterward connecting through Istanbul, Turkey where some of us are planned to stay and explore for a few days.

This awakens questions around our safety and our travel plan stability. Will I need medical coverage for the Alps? Will Turkey be stable in September? What if there is another terrorist attack? Will I be able to cancel or reschedule my flight? Is trip insurance worth it?

To help navigate your need for travel insurance, here are a few things to consider.

Consider your activity and destination. 
You may not need travel insurance to lay by the pool at a four star resort but, if you are trekking in the mountains of Morocco, exploring the jungles of Colombia or eating street food in Thailand, you may want a little medical coverage to give you peace of mind, if things turn for the worse. 

The question I personally ask myself first is, “Will I be doing something where a helicopter might be needed to come and get me, if injured?” “What is the likelihood of malaria or infectious illnesses when traveling?”

This is where a medical and emergency evacuation benefit comes in. Take a look at these line items on your policy and make sure you are getting the coverage you may need, in a worst case scenario.

The second area to consider, is the potential for any trip interruption or cancellation. On our upcoming trip to Albania, the plan is to stay in Istanbul for a four day extension afterward. But, with recent terrorist attacks and the military coup, the chances of flight delays or other interruptions might be higher. So, this leads to the question, “Can we change things, if we need to?” 

Most policies will cover losses, due to a terrorist attack or other unforeseen reason, if you change or cancel the tour or flight. But, if you want to be certain you are covered for any last minute government coups or general fearful freak out moments, make sure you add the benefit cancel for any reason. This is a time-sensitive add-on benefit and must be purchased within a certain window of making your trip deposit. 

What is your financial investment?
If your trip cost is minimal, trip insurance probably is not worth it. But, if you are making an international trip, over a couple thousand dollars, I recommend travel insurance for financial peace of mind. I personally travel with the belief, the glass is half-full but, there’s also reality. This is where you should ask yourself, do the risks outweigh the cost? 

Things can happen before a trip. A standard medical travel benefit could cover you for an unexpected broken ankle, toe or hip before you leave, in which you would need to cancel. This has happened to people I know.

Or,  the cancel for a work reason benefit would provide coverage for unexpected work situations that come up. A couple years ago, I was following an instinct to add the “cancel for a work reason” benefit to my policy. I knew there was a possibility my schedule would change so, I added it. I was thankful because I had to cancel my flight at the last minute, and my insurer reimbursed me almost $1,500 for my flight.

Are you insured elsewhere?
When looking for travel insurance, you can buy policies through companies such as Travel GuardAllianzWorld Nomads or third-party websites such as InsureMyTrip.com.

But, did you know that certain credit cards offer travel insurance benefits too? Which means, you may already be insured.

Citi credit card provides some travel benefits with their cards. If you use the card for a portion of your trip, your travel protection could be similar to what the travel insurers provide, from trip interruption to medical evacuation. This is where you need to understand your benefits, and what risks you want to cover. It is common for people to add an extra insurance benefit to their cards benefits when they travel, especially when it comes to medical. But, by understanding your credit card benefits, you can certainly help keep your travel insurance costs down.

As an added tip, if you travel at least twice a year internationally, it might be worthwhile to invest in a premium travel credit card. The travel protection benefits could easily offset the cost of buying a separate insurance policy – and the other added travel perks aren’t bad too.

Happy Travels,
Lesley Ames
Chief Venturer, BonViage

Travel Q&ALesley Ames