I, travel blogger, screwed up by forgetting to book travel insurance after my husband and I bought tickets ($256 round-trip!) from Newalk to Honolulu for January. But I rescued myself with insuremytrip.com.
We buy travel insurance only under certain conditions, and in my husband’s view this trip met those conditions. I was kind of on the fence about it, but I agreed to buy a policy. Then I forgot to go to Travel Guard, where we usually get travel insurance, until 17 days after we bought the tickets. Trouble is, Travel Guard excludes some coverage, including financial default of the airline and medical problems related to pre-existing conditions, unless you buy the policy within 14 days of the initial trip deposit.
Uh-oh. So I went to insuremytrip.com, a site that compares travel insurance policies from various companies, and found a Travelex policy that imposes a 21-day limit. Whew. (SquareMouth.com and QuoteWright.com also compare travel insurance.)
This is the only trip of seven that I now have planned for which I’ll buy insurance. So why this one?
First, we’re traveling a long distance in the winter, switching planes in a northern (Chicago) airport. The potential for weather-related travel delays and missed connections is fairly high, and the insurance will cover at least some of the costs incurred in a weather delay. Second, we intend to book hotels through Priceline, which means we stand to lose all or part of money paid out if we are delayed or the trip is canceled.
The possibility of the airline (United) going bankrupt is low, but given that we booked more than six months in advance, there’s time for conditions to change drastically. Ditto for health concerns — there’s plenty of time for one of us to have some minor complaint develop into an illness that would prevent us from flying.
There are other reasons I would recommend travel insurance. I think people in their 70s and 80s should have some form of medical evacuation coverage when traveling abroad. When we went to Russia in 2006, my husband and I even bought it for ourselves because medical care in Russia is poor.
But insurance is always a complicated issue, and decisions should be based on your own ability to absorb a financial loss and your tolerance for risk. Some frequent travelers buy comprehensive policies that cover them for multiple trips, while others never buy it all. (The Chicago Tribune had a useful piece on the topic.)
If you do buy insurance, please don’t buy it through the airline, cruise line or travel agency that’s selling you the trip. Get an independent policy through one of the sites I mentioned above.