Going home for the holidays? 6 signs you need travel insurance

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Going home for the holidays? 6 signs you need travel insurance

If you’re traveling over the holidays, you’re in good company. According to a study from AAA, more than 103 million Americans will do so between Dec. 23rd, 2017 and Jan. 2, 2018.

Unfortunately, many travelers forgo insurance against the “what ifs” holiday travel brings. While some falsely assume they can cancel their trips, many don’t see the value in purchasing travel insurance.

If you’re on the fence, it helps to know your options if you need to cancel your trip – as well as what exactly a policy covers.

Fortunately, we’re here to help! Before you go anywhere, consider these six signs travel insurance should be on your holiday to-do list.

1. You booked non-refundable flights & hotels

Like it or not, you can’t cancel certain types of travel. If you purchase a non-refundable flight or hotel stay, you can stay home, but you won’t get your money back. That's why it’s crucial to have a backup plan. Enter travel insurance, which typically covers nonrefundable trip deposits.

2. You’re worried someone in your party might get sick

Holiday travel has its share of pitfalls, but it’s especially tricky since the season falls in the middle of cold and flu season. With travel insurance, you have the option to stay home if an illness threatens to make a trip uncomfortable or even impossible. Grandma may be sad Junior and the rest of the family didn’t make it, but heck, at least you’ll get your money back.

3. You’re traveling internationally

If you’re traveling internationally over the holidays, you need to worry about more than bad weather or getting the flu. You also need to worry whether you’ll have health insurance while abroad. Most U.S. health insurance policies don’t provide even emergency coverage once you leave the U.S. A travel insurance policy can cover the gap and fund medical treatment or evacuation services.

Bonus: International trips cost more than domestic travel. Consider the trade off: Policies with trip cancellation range from 4% to 10% of the cost of the trip with an average cost between $200 and $250.

4. You’re worried your luggage will get lost

Hey, it happens. According to industry experts at SITA, airlines mishandled or lost 6.5 bags per thousand checked in 2015. That may not sound like a lot – that is, until you realize the total number of mishandled bags was 23.1 million that year.

Fortunately, travel insurance offers financial reimbursement for items you need to purchase until your baggage arrives. Not only that, but it can replace your baggage and belongings if your bags are never found. Without this coverage, you’re left to accept whatever reimbursement your airline offers — which is typically less than generous.

Genius tip: Some credit cards carry certain protections against trip cancellations or baggage delays. Before buying a standalone policy, check to see how much, if any, travel insurance you already have.

5. Inclement weather is a distinct possibility

If winter weather causes your flight to be delayed or canceled, you can count on your airline to get you on the next flight possible. But what happens if you rack up additional expenses while you wait?

Travel insurance can’t stop snowmageddon from barreling down on your holiday trip, but it can cover incidental costs that arise from delayed travel. If you need to pay for several more nights in a hotel and eat during that time, for example, a travel insurance policy covers those expenses.

Genius tip: Travel insurance can’t keep you from getting bumped, but if that inconvenience pushes your travel plans a day or two, the coverage for food and hotel usually kicks in. You can find tips for avoiding a holiday bump here.

6. You know ‘life happens’

We've covered how travel insurance can help if your trip is delayed due to bad weather or illness. But, what about all the reasons your travel plans could fall through we haven't talked about?

What happens if you have to go to a funeral? What if you lost your job and couldn't afford to go? What if a huge snowstorm buries your destination before you're set to leave — and you wish you could just stay home? By purchasing travel insurance, you no longer have to worry about these "what ifs" or the financial havoc they could cause.

Image: PeopleImages