We buy car insurance, complain about the costs and hope we never need to use it.
And when accidents happen, we learn just how lucky we are.
The same is true with travel insurance.
We can’t predict who will get sick, when Mother Nature will lead to flight cancellations or delays or lost luggage, but we can play it safer by purchasing protection against sudden and unforeseen events.
Whether you’ve already made your holiday travel plans for Thanksgiving and Christmas or are procrastinating, consider making a small investment in your trip. Some credit cards offer similar safeguards at no additional cost.
If you’ve already made your arrangements, it’s not too late to shop for an insurance policy.
Consumers spend more than $2.8 billion a year on travel insurance, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.
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Typical coverage costs 5 to 10 percent of the cost of a trip, based on the length, destination, your age and type of coverage. Coverage for a $3,000 trip might cost $150 to $240.
According to IBISWorld analyst Nick Masters, the travel insurance industry continues to grow.
“The growing frequency and severity of natural disasters has prompted more consumers to purchase travel insurance to protect themselves against potential losses resulting from a catastrophic event,” Masters wrote in the August 2018 report “Travel Insurance in the U.S.”
According to Squaremouth, the fear of natural disasters will overtake terrorism as the top cancellation concern this year.
The website, which compares travel insurance policies, estimates 47 percent more travelers bought travel insurance in 2017 “specifically to be refunded if weather or a natural disaster ruins their trip.”
International trips and expensive vacations are the most important times to have an insurance policy.
Inexpensive trips aren’t always worth taking out a policy but if you travel a lot, credit cards that include travel protection and other perks are worth considering.
Although I’m usually against credit cards that charge an annual fee, the benefits some cards offer make this an attractive option.
Fly one time in a year and you likely will recoup the money thanks to the rising costs of paying to check-in luggage or even carry-on costs. Plus, the annual fee is usually waived for the first year.
Cruise lines and hotel chains have credit cards with similar benefits and you also can look into cards not tied to one specific brand such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Credit cards in your wallet likely already include free car rental insurance and other travel perks, such as baggage delay insurance and roadside assistance, so read the card policies before opening a new account.
I hope you never have to use your insurance or credit card protection but having the extra safeguard is worth the peace of mind.
Kelly Tyko is a consumer columnist and retail reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers and TCPalm.com, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK. This column reflects her opinion. Read her Bargainista tips at TCPalm.com/Bargainista, follow her on Twitter @KellyTyko and email her at email@example.com. Sign up for her weekly newsletter at www.tcpalm.com/newsletters.
Here are travel tips from the Better Business Bureau:
- Plan ahead. Allow yourself the time to research hotels, flights, and the area where you will be staying.
- Avoid broad internet searches. Try to avoid entering phrases like ‘best deals’ into whichever search engine you use. Broad search terms like that can sometimes lead you to websites that look official, but are designed solely to rip people off.
- Be alert for travel scams. Watch out for phone calls or letters claiming that you’ve “won a trip” or websites offering prices that are too good to be true
- Book through a reliable source. Check out travel agencies at www.bbb.org or search the Better Business Bureau Accredited Business Directory for one.
- Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm all details in writing, such as total cost, flights, hotel reservations, car rental, or any restrictions that apply.
- Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils that occur on your trip under which it will pay out claims.
- Pay for your vacation with a credit card. A credit card may offer you additional buyer protections in case your travel insurance does not cover your specific loss.