Travel

Should I take out travel insurance for my next trip?

For many Americans planning a summer trip after COVID-19 disrupted the holiday season for the past two years, a key financial question remains: should you buy travel insurance?

Consider a family of four living in Cleveland, Ohio who must fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida to go on a cruise heading for the Caribbean. Without travel insurance, if their flight is delayed or canceled causing them to miss their ship, they are usually responsible for the cost of the cruise and other paid activities.

“They won’t hold the boat for you, so having insurance for the cost of the cruise would be a good way out of that. Without it, you’ll be out of money,” Scott Keyes, founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights, a flight deals website, told CBS MoneyWatch.

Insurance can certainly ease stress by ensuring that a family or individual is not financially hooked if their trip is cut short for various reasons.

“For a lot of people, it’s money well spent if it gives you a happy vacation. After all, a vacation should allay your anxieties,” Keys said.

For international travel, financial rates can be especially high.

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

“I used to think it was a waste of time”

Easing pandemic restrictions, including lifting the requirement that travelers provide evidence of a negative test to return to the US also fuel the demand for international travel, which is often expensive and can require complex preparation. However, lingering worries around COVID-19 also make travel abroad financially risky for those without insurance.

Even seasoned travelers who once went without insurance now say the equation is different.

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

One reason insurance might be sensible this summer is the rising cost of airfare. domesticated airfares jumped 47% only since January, according to Adobe. Airfare has also increased by 30% compared to May 2019, before the pandemic.

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

Don’t just check the box

Before taking out any travel insurance, find out what it covers. Experts advise against subscribing to flight protection plans offered as add-ons when ordering on the websites of airlines and long-distance aggregators.

“Don’t just click yes on insurance when you buy your flight,” Keyes of Scott’s Cheap Flights said. “Usually, because it’s right here and convenient, it’s not…

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