Why air travel insurance is important
Air travel is cloaked in extra costs these days, but some of those fees are well worth paying. Travel insurance is perhaps the most important thing you can pack before you depart, as it can save you a huge amount of time, money and effort should a disaster strike. But with all of the types and degrees of policies out there, it can be tempting to shrug the whole thing off as a cash grab, or if you're a particularly nervous traveler, opt for the most inclusive plan around.
While having some travel insurance is important, it's more important to have the right kind. Learn how flight insurance and trip cancellation insurance works, plus which options are worth buying into and which can be left out. The proper travel insurance will help you enjoy your trip and handle anything that may arise without further financial stress.
How Trip Cancellation Insurance Works
Some things cannot be predicted or controlled, and plans can change without notice. Unfortunately, most airlines respond very poorly to sudden change, and you can bet that they'll be unsympathetic to your concerns if you have no back-up plan. Although you may not be able to prevent a sudden change to your travel plans, there are ways to protect your investment in case you cannot make your flight.
Trip cancellation insurance, also known as travel cancellation insurance, will cover the cost of your flight if certain emergencies arise, but specific plans will differ according to the providers. Some of the most common problems covered by travel insurance include:
- Travel advisories to your destination
- Sudden illness or death
- Natural disaster
- Missed connection
- Jury duty
- Missed flight due to car trouble
In contrast, flight insurance typically covers any accidents that befall you while you're in the airport, taking airport transportation or on the plane. And remember, although most plans cover major emergencies, each institution will include less or more under their plan. Whether you choose trip cancellation insurance to protect your investment before you board or flight accident insurance to cover you when you're in the air, be sure to read the fine print so you know exactly how you're covered and avoid any nasty surprises.
What to Look for in Air Travel Insurance
The right plan for you should fill in the gaps left by your work benefits, or if you have none, it should balance cost with reasonable preventative measures. There's no sense in taking out insurance to cover every possible scenario if that means sacrificing some holiday activities or decreasing your comfort and convenience, especially if you're in relatively good health and it's a moderately priced trip. On the other hand, if you've had your baggage lost or had to cancel a trip before, you're more likely to do whatever you can to avoid dealing with those problems again. The best way to begin is to consider your current coverage and then what kind of risk you are willing to take.
After you've decided what you're looking for, start shopping early. It's always a good idea to give yourself enough time to compare providers, but in certain cases (such as fliers with pre-existing medical conditions), you need to take out the insurance soon after booking the trip to be covered at all. Also, it's best if you buy any extra travel insurance from a company other than your travel provider, because on the off-chance that your travel company goes out of business, the insurance coverage will also be lost.
Next, tailor your coverage to what you really need: trip cancellation insurance may not be worth the cost or effort if you're traveling a relatively short distance with a discount airline, but health care insurance is pretty important for every traveler. Baggage insurance is affordable, handy and often recommended, but flight accident insurance is generally very expensive and, since flight accidents are so rare, claims are few and far between.
Once you've narrowed your choices, research each insurance company a little bit, checking that they are a member of the US Travel Insurance Association, or buy from a travel agent who belongs to the American Society of Travel Agents. Once everything is signed and complete, keep all the documentation with you when traveling, and be sure to save receipts in case you need to back up a claim.