En espa├▒ol | As a frequent traveler who has visited 69 countries, Marcelline Krafchick, 83, knows how quickly a trip can take an unexpected turn for the worse. Eight years ago, when she was traveling in Kenya, she fell and broke her foot. The Emeryville, Calif., resident was rushed to the hospital and eventually flown home. The medical and airline costs were all covered by the travel insurance policy she had purchased for the trip.

"The most wonderful thing about having that insurance was that I never felt alone," Krafchick says, explaining that the insurance representative called to check on her progress every evening while she was overseas.

Whether you book a trip online or through a travel agent, you are likely to be offered some kind of traveler's insurance coverage. Depending on the policy, it can cover everything from the catastrophic expense of health emergencies to disruptions caused by bad weather or a terrorist attack. It can even be used for logistical challenges such as coping with lost luggage.

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Do you need it? Consider this:

A U.S. Travel Insurance Association (UStiA) survey of 1,005 adults, released last year, found that 23 percent of Americans said they had to cancel or interrupt their travel plans between 2013 and 2014. Reasons included health problems, severe weather and mechanical delays. And more than a third of travelers who had experienced those disruptions had bought travel insurance. Here are the key components to weigh before making a purchasing decision.  


Travel insurance can add 5 to 8 percent to the cost of your vacation. The price depends on two factors: your age and the cost of the trip, says Daniel Durazo, director of communications for Allianz Global Assistance, a company that sells travel insurance. Older travelers typically pay more for insurance because they are more susceptible to illness or injury and have a higher claim rate. More than half the people Allianz medically transports are 50 or older, Durazo points out.