Travel Insurance is viewed by many as a mysterious coverage.  Many assume it is only available through a Travel Agent when booking a major trip such as a cruise or European trip. There are many coverages that can make it a wise investment for most any trip. It is always a wise investment when planning a trip outside of this country.  When planning a cruise or European vacation there are many ways your trip can become derailed and travel insurance is there to help you in many ways.

Most people think of travel insurance as a resource should you trip need to be cancelled or cut short. With restrictions that vary by policy it does that, but with many more benefits. Ever take a trip fearing of the need for medical treatment in a foreign land. How much could you find yourself paying for a medical evacuation flight?  How about the added out of pocket expenses for “out of network” medical treatment? Most Travel policies are very broad and fairly cheap for the coverages afforded.

Call me cheap, fiscally conservative, or cautiously prudent but I had never been a strong proponent of travel insurance for what I’ll call a simple domestic US vacation; perhaps to Florida or similar destination. With proper planning how much can go wrong where the travel insurance would really prove a prudent investment?  In such a case your trip involves a flight to and from RI, a rental car, and a hotel. The cost break down for a couple on such a trip as about $2,400 for your flights, $750 for a rental car for a week, $1500 for your hotel.  Those are the pre-purchased expenses that travel insurance will apply to. The cost for travel insurance would be about $150 each.  Travel insurance will only pay the un-reimbursable expense. If you cancel you can usually get all or most of your money back from the airline, rental car company and hotel. If your flights get messed up, worst case you likely end up paying for a single night at one of the nearby hotels along with a meal or two; collectively at a cost well below the cost of the $150+/-  insurance cost. What I hadn’t considered was the timing of such a trip. What impact might you face if taken during a peak travel period, like school vacation week, and the complications when weather forces the cancellation of a series of flights? Your one flight cancellation could turn into a couple of lost days trying to squeeze into one of the near capacity planes heading to or from your vacation destination.  Unplanned expense for hotels and meals can climb. Such was the case for my brother-in-law’s recent trip to Florida.

He approached me back in January complaining about how the couple arranging the trip included travel insurance for everyone on this annual trip. He explained how they had booked his flight, hotel, rental car and pre-paid a series of rounds of golf at varied well known golf courses of Southern Florida. When all totaled up, the vacation costs for all of it, per couple, were close to $10,000. If problems arose some of the expenses likely could have been recovered thus not covered by the travel insurance. The policy they took out cost just over $300 each. As it turned out, each couple collected that and more.

On the way down, two sets of golf clubs did not arrive with the rest of the luggage (and still have not shown up). They had checked the baggage with the airline. The travel insurance is now reimbursing them for rental of golf clubs for the week and since the clubs still have not shown up, will be paying up to the policy limit of $2,000 to replace each set of clubs, less the nominal amount the airline will be reimbursing them for the clubs.

As the end of their vacation approached, the east coast of the US was bracing for the March 14 snow storm. Since their flight was leaving Florida on Monday—well in advance of Tuesday’s storm—they didn’t expect any problem with the cancellation of their flight to Rhode Island.  Sunday evening, they went on-line to check in and learned the airline had cancelled their Monday evening flight.  They rebooked for the next available flight out—6:30 Thursday morning.  Because the airline was cancelling due to a weather related emergency, they were not required to pay any of the group’s additional expenses– but their travel insurance did. Since the airline stopped service to RI causing a delay of at least 6 hours due to weather, their policy provided $150 a day up to $500 each.  They arranged to keep the rental cars and their hotel rooms for 3 more nights.

When they returned, there was some paperwork that needed to be completed to document their delayed trip expenses and the issue with the lost golf clubs. I haven’t heard yet what the final check will be, but the three day delay alone cost over the $1,000 maximum benefit allowed under the policy. As things turned out, if they had to get stuck, it was great that the travel insurance basically paid for them to enjoy three more days of vacation with nearly all their expenses covered.