Is Trip Insurance Worth The Extra $?
I’m preparing for an upcoming trip to Ghana. In case you’re geographically challenged, Ghana is a country on the western coast of sub-Saharan Africa.
Present-day Ghana is the original home of many Africans enslaved in the United States, so my husband and I are taking our son and daughter, ages four and two, and planning to visit several historical sites preserved to honor the memory of those taken during the transatlantic slave trade.
I’m looking forward to retracing this part of our country’s history. I’ve traveled to many countries and engaged with people from a number of different cultures, but this trip will be special in that I’ll be able to touch a part of history that more directly relates to my heritage.
This trip will be special as I connect with people who quite possibly represent my extended family. Extra special because I’ll take part in a naming ceremony to embrace the colorful Ghanaian culture. Special, yes, but not just for those reasons.
This excursion will be different because it’s the first time that I’ll also purchase trip insurance.
Do I need trip insurance?
Thankfully, I’ve never needed trip insurance in the past. However, traveling nearly 6,000 miles from home with a two-year-old and a four-year-old in tow raised new questions. What do we do if someone gets sick? Can I cancel my trip if Harmattan – a severe dust storm that can block the sun for several days – hits during our anticipated travel dates?
Exploring this part of the world is not cheap. I’d hate to waste money, but traveling with toddlers during an extended sandstorm does not sound like a good idea.
As it turns out, a weather-related schedule interruption is just one of several major reasons why I’ll never travel abroad without trip insurance again. I had a chance to speak with several people who understand the importance of having a travel policy in place before setting out on vacation. According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, one out of six people with trip insurance ends up needing to make a claim.
One such claim involved Liz Weston, a columnist with NerdWallet who had to change plans when her daughter became too sick to fly before a scheduled business trip. She was able to make her appointment while her husband stayed home to care for the sick child.
Aside from missing her family, she didn’t sacrifice any financial loss on the altar of non-refundable plane tickets. Her trip insurance covered the $300 exchange fee required to use the two plane tickets again in the future.
And Dan Skilken, owner of TripInsurance.com, shared that a client broke one leg and shattered the other after a freak accident during a morning jog. Trip insurance covered the cost of the medical evacuation from southern Asia to Los Angeles. Doctors were able to save the traveler’s leg and – more importantly – his life.
These are just two such examples out of thousands that are out there. But many still refuse to put a small amount down toward protection at the time of booking.
How expensive is travel insurance?
I checked a few plans on TravelInsurance.com to find out how much extra will this peace of mind cost. It’s not cheap, but neither was it prohibitively expensive.
Given my expected travel cost for a party of four, I can purchase a policy with the desired benefits that costs between $165 and $248. Those policies include 100 percent reimbursement of expenses for cancellation or interruptions, medical coverage and evacuation, and baggage loss coverage.
On the lower end, medical evacuation is capped at $250,000 per person. For just under $100 more, that limit is as high as $1,000,000. We should be able to get home from just about anywhere on the globe.
Remember to buy travel insurance at the time of booking, and not at the last minute after reading about the latest hurricane that’s about to hit the island resort! Sorry, you won’t get insurance then.
And keep in mind that wherever you buy – whether from an agent or a third party – there is room for haggling.
From now on, I’ll also approach travel within the U.S. with new eyes. Travel insurance is offered through credit cards with rewards programs. Of course, one must weigh any annual fee against the benefits offered (such as rental car insurance or trip interruption protection). I’ve learned that trip insurance benefits offered through a credit card can change frequently. So it’s always best to check the company’s website for coverage and insurance limits before making travel plans.
I don’t expect to have a stroke or go running through the jungles of southern Asia anytime soon. Still, I’d rather pay six to eight percent of my travel costs on a policy that will provide peace of mind. This way, an unexpected event only ruins our vacation and not our financial wellbeing.