En español | After tackling the tough decisions about your next trip — where and when to go, and how much you can afford — you’re ready to hit “pay now.” But a final head-scratcher confronts you: Do you want insurance with that?
No insurance policy can prevent the unexpected from ruining your vacation. But if you’ve spent a lot on a trip, insurance can, at least, allow you to recover a good chunk of the money you might otherwise have lost. Here are the main questions to ask yourself when deciding whether to buy.
1. How likely is it that you, your traveling companion or a loved one will get sick?
If your answer is “very likely,” a trip cancellation policy may well make sense. Some insurers will include coverage for preexisting medical conditions if you purchase the policy within a certain time frame.
2. How likely is it that you or your traveling companion will get laid off before the start of your trip?
Many policies consider this a valid reason for cancellation, although terms vary. Allianz’s basic plan, for example, will cover cancellation if you lose your job “through no fault of your own” and have been with your employer for at least three years. A basic plan from Travelex lets you cancel if you’ve been with an employer for at least one year and the termination was “not under your control.”
3. Are you bringing along expensive clothing, jewelry or equipment?
If you’ll be carrying items you feel you should insure, first check to see if they’re already covered through your existing policies. Your credit card company may offer some coverage for checked bags or even carry-on luggage. Your homeowner’s or renter’s policy also may cover some of your valuables (and if they don’t, consider adding a floater to the policy). If you go with a separate travel insurance policy, know that most will reimburse you for the cash value of items in lost or stolen baggage, only up to a stated limit (often $500). Some may also cover the “reasonable” purchase price of replacement items, such as clothing, that you may need while waiting for delayed bags.
4. How vulnerable will you be to extreme weather?
If your trip is a package and a major weather event forces a complete cancellation, you’ll get a refund (not counting extra airfare and other expenditures). But consider other possibilities. Does your itinerary include any stops where snow and ice might cause delays or a missed connection? Will you be flying near an ocean in summer or fall? If so, keep hurricane season in mind — June 1 to Nov. 30 in the Atlantic, and May 15 to Nov. 30 in the eastern Pacific. If hurricanes might be an issue, make sure your policy allows for “natural disasters,” and buy well in advance. Coverage usually applies only if you purchase it before a hurricane is officially named.
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