Is travel insurance worth it? What you need to know before booking your next trip.

With the unofficial start of summer and after more than two years of pandemic uncertainty, travelers are ready to go – apart from the fact that high prices.

Americans are expected to spend an average of $2,644 on summer vacation, 30% more than in 2019, according to the latest Vacation Confidence Index from insurers Allianz Partners USA.

However with COVID cases on the rise Again, Hurricane Agatha hits Mexico and the Atlantic hurricane season starting June 1, those long-awaited vacation plans could change yet again.

Fifty percent of American adults had to cancel a trip because of COVID, according to a Forbes Advisor Survey in April, and more than 80% of those who canceled lost money.

“If you book a trip and don’t worry about losing all that money if an accident or illness or a hurricane interrupts the trip…then fine, but I think most people don’t ‘re not so lucky,” said Jeremy Murchland, president of insurance company Seven Corners.

Travel insurance can help cover unrecoverable vacation costs, but it’s especially useful when trips go wrong.

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Travelers wait in a departure hall at Schiphol airport, near Amsterdam, the day after a strike by KLM baggage handlers that caused the cancellation of many flights, April 24, 2022.

Is it worth paying for travel insurance?

It depends.

For relatively common things like flight disruptions, domestic travelers already have some protections through the Department of Transport, which forces airlines to offer refunds when flights are canceled or significantly delayed. Credit companies will go to bat for customers too.

“Your credit card is phenomenal…for disputing any type of transaction,” said independent personal finance expert Matt Granite, known as The Business Guy on Youtube.

Hotels and vacation rental companies may make exceptions or rebook stays for guests in extenuating circumstances, even where stated policies do not provide for refunds for last-minute cancellations.

Theme parks generally do not refund ticketsbut will often work with clients dealing with emergencies and COVID.

Many cruise lines, like Carnival and Norwegian, will offer future cruise credit to guests who contract COVID within days of sailing, but they may not be as flexible if guests cancel for other reasons.

Travel insurance can help customers who want a refund rather than a postponement and other perks, but it’s more crucial for travelers who become ill or injured while abroad.

“If you break your ankle or, God forbid, I was just looking at a case the other day, someone overseas, they were riding one of these scooters and got hit while they were riding the scooter and (had) a traumatic brain injury. We had to make sure they were evacuated out of the country,” Murchland said. “Accidents happen with people. It is reality. Travel insurance therefore becomes important only for your own protection, not just financially.”

Daniel Durazo, director of external communications for Allianz Partners USA, says they average one medical evacuation per week.

“These end up being very expensive,” he said. “They start in the tens of thousands. It can go up to $100,000 depending on where you’re coming from. They don’t want to have to pay that out of pocket.”

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Does my health insurance cover international travel?

Many times, no.

“A lot of national health insurance plans won’t do that,” Murchland said. “They either won’t provide any sort of out-of-country insurance or it’s out of the network; you have to pay out of pocket. They won’t provide evacuation or repatriation services. So it’s very limited .”

He says overseas hospitals may also want to keep personal credit cards on file or require payment guarantees before services are provided.

“So we get involved,” Murchland said. “We work with partners who give what’s called a payment guarantee to get you the care (and) cover you financially while you’re there.”

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What is not covered by travel insurance?

A little, so travelers should read the terms carefully.

According to Durazo, medical coverage may not be included or even offered to domestic travelers because their usual health insurance covers the United States.

Pre-existing conditions aren’t covered by most policies, but travelers can get exemptions for certain diagnoses to prevent coverage requests from being denied.

Hurricane coverage depends on the timing. Travelers should purchase insurance plans before hurricanes are named.

“The thing you need to remember about travel insurance is that we only cover unknown and unforeseen events,” Durazo said. “Once a hurricane is named, it is then considered a known event. … Insurance does not cover foreseeable circumstances.”

Granite warns that there may also be clauses to watch out for in the event of hurricanes.

“It’s really important to note that a lot of the insurance only kicks in if your trip is directly affected by the path of a hurricane, so it’s not cut and dry,” he said. -he declares. “If you were flying and there’s a chance your flight might reroute you three times, but you have layovers and you can still get to your destination around the hurricane, they might have your claim denied.”

The reason for the cancellation also matters. In most cases, travelers cannot cancel their trips just because they feel like it. Cancel for any reason plans exist and cost more than other types of plans, but even then travelers may not get back all the money they invested in a trip.

“In most cases, cancellation for any reason is not 100% refundable,” Murchland said. “You are reimbursed up to a certain percentage of the total cost of your trip. It may be 60-75%, but it’s not 100%, but still, 75% of the large number is better than zero if people’s plans change.”

How to find the right travel insurance?

There are several ways to purchase travel insurance.

Travelers can purchase insurance plans directly from providers like John Hancock, AIG Travel and Seven Corners, which Forbes Advisor called the “best value for superior coverage” This year.

They can also check a travel insurance or travel protection box during the checkout process for some airlines and online travel agencies like Priceline, Kayak and Expedia, which work with Allianz. Allianz also offers coverage through travel agents and its own website.

“The goal is to provide the consumer with the best product for their particular trip,” Durazo said. “And it helps give people the coverage they’ll need for their particular route, and it also prevents them from buying coverage they may not need.”

Granite generally recommends sticking with free travel protections offered by major credit cards, instead of buying travel insurance, but for travelers who want extra protection, he recommends comparing prices on Square mouth and InsureMyTrip.

“These are independent third-party websites that will allow you to see the cost of insurance, side-by-side against different policies,” Granite previously told USA TODAY. “A lot of the time, the way these search engines present policies to you will highlight some of the exclusions that you would need to see (and) otherwise wouldn’t be able to check out unless you sit down with a lawyer. reading the documents, word by word, page by page.”

Durazo urges travelers to stay with approved members of the American Travel Insurance Association. In addition to researching online, Murchland recommends speaking directly with agents who can help answer specific questions.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Travel insurance isn’t necessary, but here’s why you might still want it