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Should you take out travel insurance for your next trip?

For many Americans planning a summer trip after COVID-19 wrecked the vacation season for the past two years, a key financial question remains: Should I buy travel insurance?

Consider a family of four living in Cleveland, Ohio, who must fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for board a cruise ship heading to the Caribbean. Without travel insurance, if their flight is delayed or canceled and they miss the ship, they would usually be required to pay the cost of the cruise and other paid activities.

“They won’t book the boat for you, so having insurance for the cost of the cruise will be put to good use. Without it, you’d be out of pocket,” Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a flight deals site, told him. he told CBS MoneyWatch.

Insurance can certainly alleviate stress by providing the reassurance that a family or individual will not be in financial trouble if their trip is interrupted for a variety of reasons.

“For many people, it’s money well spent if it gives them a happier vacation. At the end of the day, vacations are supposed to take away their anxieties,” Keyes said.

For international travel, the financial stakes can be especially high.

“I can’t think of a trip abroad that I wouldn’t recommend it for, because there’s a very good chance something could go wrong,” said Michael Giusti, an analyst at InsuranceQuotes.com.

“I used to think I was a waste”

Loosen pandemic restrictions, including banning a requirement that travelers show proof of a negative test to re-enter the US are also driving demand for international travel, which is often expensive and can require complex arrangements. However, persistent concerns about COVID-19 they also make foreign travel financially risky for people without coverage.

Even seasoned travelers who once overlooked travel insurance now say the equation is different.

“I used to think it was wasteful and a bit of a scam and hardly anyone used it,” said Kathleen Bangs, an aviation expert for the flight-tracking website Flight Aware. “Now, if a family is going to Disney World or Europe, I would recommend it.”

One reason insurance may be a good idea this summer: the high cost of airfare. Domestic Airline ticket prices have risen 47% only since January, according to data from Adobe. Airfares are also up 30% compared to May 2019, before the pandemic.

Meanwhile, airline staffing shortages, reduced carrier capacity and COVID-19 infections among airline workers have led to flight cancellations and delays, increasing the risk of travel disruptions. .

Don’t just check the box

Before hiring any type of travel insurance, find out what it covers. Experts advise against subscribing to flight protection plans offered as add-ons at checkout on airline websites and far-flung aggregators.

“Don’t click ‘yes’ on insurance when you buy your flight,” said Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “Usually, because it’s there and it’s convenient, it won’t be as robust or cover you for as many things, and you don’t always know who you’re buying it from.”

These types of policies can be limited and only cover trips that are canceled due to unforeseen illness or injury that prevents the covered person from traveling.

Know what is already covered

Find out what your existing auto and health insurance already covers before you buy additional coverage. And remember that under US federal lawconsumers are entitled to a full refund of ticket costs if a flight is canceled or significantly delayed.

Also research the protections your credit card might offer. In general, credit card issuers will require that you have paid for your flight or hotel with your card to be eligible for a refund if your trip goes wrong.

“Many cards automatically provide a certain amount of travel protection. Specific provisions range from reimbursement for a hotel, taxis, food or clothing if a flight is delayed and you miss a connection,” Keyes said. “You don’t want to pay for things you’re already insured for.”

Compare plans

Do your research before buying travel insurance. Websites that include world nomads, InsureMyTrip, square mouth Y battle face Trusted by experts, they allow you to compare plans and coverages, as well as select add-ons like “cancel for any reason” insurance.

How much should you spend?

The more your travel insurance policy covers, the more it will cost you. Typically, travel coverage policies cost between 3% and 8% of the cost of the trip. “Cancel for any reason” insurance usually costs more.

For added peace of mind, add a reservation day before, say, a cruise ship’s scheduled departure, experts say.

“Giving yourself an extra day is also a form of insurance. Leave a day early, fill in your schedule in case something goes wrong,” said Zach Griff, a travel expert at The Points Guy, a site that helps consumers maximize your credit card. and airline rewards. “Cancelling insurance for any reason can be very expensive, so these are ways to minimize that cost.”

Do I need health insurance too?

Before you travel, find out if you have coverage for out-of-state or overseas medical expenses under your existing health care plan. If you get generous out-of-network benefits, you may have enough coverage. Additional health insurance could be helpful if you get sick or have an accident while traveling.

“It’s something to think about. It might help, depending on how good your current health insurance is,” InsuranceQuotes’ Giusti said.

“Some people think they can enter a foreign country with their health insurance card and get coverage, but that’s not always the case,” said FlightAware’s Bangs. “Talk to your health care company and understand what your coverage is if you travel abroad.”

Without travel medical insurance, the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT) warns that “you may be responsible for the full cost of all expenses related to an unexpected event, accident or medical emergency abroad.”

Medjet Assist, a medical evacuation insurance provider, will transport you to a hospital of your choice in your home country for as little as $99 for a short-term trip.

“It is absolutely necessary to have medical evacuation insurance,” said CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg. “If you get sick or injured outside of the US, it pays to be medically stabilized wherever you are and taken home to a medical facility and doctor of your choice.”

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