Buy Travel Insurance: Tip-of-the-Day #285

I have never been one to buy into travel insurance. In fact, most people I've talked to about it believe it to be a complete rip off--similar in nature to buying car rental insurance or the extended warranty on electronics. I was of the belief that if push came to shove, the credit card I used for the transaction would cover me in case of emergency. But here's the rub, folks, "emergencies" aren't universally recognized in the same way. My emergency may be very different from my credit card legal team's version of an emergency, AND if you read all of the fine print, your trip may be insured if you meet the criteria but only up to, say, $1500.

So, I'm updating my thinking given a recent experience I had in which I had to cancel a trip at the last minute due to illness. It was much tougher than I thought to get my money back. And, I didn't actually end up getting my money back (because I didn't buy the insurance), I got a credit for future travel. LUCKILY. I very well could have been out the money altogether.

Travel insurance isn't all that expensive. And yet when booking a trip, if you're anything like me, you likely think to yourself "there's NO WAY I'm not going to take this trip"... but things come up. That's just life. So here are some options.

1. If you're booking your plans on the internet and using a site like Expedia or Travelocity or Kayak, the insurance will come up as an added option before checkout. Strongly consider buying it. It's often as little as $39 pp and for peace of mind, I now think it's worth it.

2. If you missed the boat on buying it up front when you were making your plans, explore sites like TravelGuard, Allianz and Travelex. You can add the insurance on, after the fact.

3. Check with your American Express card. Amex is known to be fairly robust when it comes to included services. When I book travel with my Amex Gold I automatically get charged a fee of $9.99 that is supposed to cover the unexpected. Unfortunately I didn't use my Amex on this last trip and so I was unable to explore that option.

The older I get, the more inclined I am to practice the old adage "better safe than sorry." Note: if you have to learn it the hard way take comfort in the fact that it's good preparation for the next time around.

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