Is Travel Insurance A Rip-Off?

By: Amy Nutt

Is travel insurance a rip-off? That is a simple question with a complicated answer. To properly understand this issue, you should first understand what travel insurance is. The definition of travel insurance is fairly straightforward -it's short term insurance that covers you while you are on vacation. Travel insurance coverage depends on the parameters of the policy, but in general it extends to lost or broken luggage, thefts that happen during your vacation, medical needs that might arise during your vacation and lost personal items.

There have been many documented occasions of travel insurers being downright fraudulent. The internet is rife with examples. Many people have complained about travel insurance that travel agencies or airlines recommend for them being absurdly expensive, difficult or impossible to use, or even non-existent. In some cases, class-action lawsuits have been filed and have been paid to fraud victims. Many people have claimed that exploitative travel agents offered them vacation packages at seemingly steep discounts, only to force them to purchase overpriced travel insurance packages.

That said, not all travel insurers are bad, and buying travel insurance is not always a bad idea. There are many reputable, well-organized, established travel insurers out there. The best thing you can do if you are considering travel insurance is do your homework. Compare different travel insurers' rates and coverage packages. Read the fine print. Check consumer reports and fraud awareness websites.

Here is a brief list of circumstances in which you might find yourself where traveler's insurance can be a big help. If you suspect you might run into one or more of these problems during your trip, then traveler's insurance is probably a good idea.

Your flight is canceled. If you are flying during a very high-volume holiday season and the weather is predicted to be particularly bad, traveler's insurance might come in handy.

Your bags are lost and you have prescription medication. You need to have an emergency prescription filled. If you have critical medical needs, then traveler's insurance is absolutely a good idea. You will want to be sure and have a quality, proven insurer with strong medical coverage. Regardless, you will want to put any prescription medications in your carry-on in case your luggage is lost.

Your passport and wallet are stolen and you need emergency cash and a new passport. It isn't easy to predict a theft, but if you are traveling to an area where you are at greater risk of having your wallet stolen, insurance is a good idea.

A hurricane forces you to evacuate your hotel, resort or cruise. Certain areas of the world are more susceptible to hurricanes, especially during a few months of the year. If you are traveling to one of these volatile locations during hurricane season, insurance could bail you out if a storm comes.

A terrorist incident occurs in the city you're planning to visit and you want to cancel your trip. Terrorism is a horrific, tremendously unfortunate reality in today's complicated world. It's horrible to think about, but if you are traveling in a particularly volatile part of the world, travel insurance might ease your mind.

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