Understanding Travel Insurance and Why You Need It

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There often is a debate among travelers whether or not to purchase travel insurance when booking a vacation. After this year, you’d think it was pretty clear-cut that you should. However, it’s not quite that simple.

The devil is in the details, as they say.

One thing that is never covered is FEAR. Just because you don’t WANT to travel doesn’t mean insurance will pay out. Just because you don’t WANT to travel doesn’t mean you are owed a refund.

I work with vacation rentals. We offer travel insurance. It will cover you if you cannot travel because you or a member of your party gets sick. It will not cover you if you’re afraid of traveling to another state because the COVID numbers are increasing. While I understand and sympathize with people who decide not to travel during this time of the plague, our policy has always been within 30 days of check-in there is no refund. When the virus first reared its ugly head in March, we were kind enough to let people take their payments as credit towards a future stay. Many vacation rentals did not even do that, and it was well within their rights.

I tell people right now to look for “Cancel for any reason” travel insurance. Even that has its limits, but it’s far more friendly to people who may choose to not travel due to a variety of circumstances. The insurance we sell will cover you if you become unemployed, if you are dealing with a death in the immediate family, if your house burns down, and many things like that. The cancel for any reason policy will generally cover up to 75% of anything you are not refunded for when you cancel a trip.

Many people choose to take a risk and book vacations without travel insurance. I get requests all the time from people who book a vacation rental then have a story as to why they should be refunded their stay. For a long time I have been sympathetic but had to do what the owners want. I have become less sympathetic over time. Everyone has a story and a reason why they are the exception to the rules. If you are willing to gamble that you will lose what you’ve invested in the trip, then don’t purchase travel insurance. It’s not the fault of the hotel, cruise line, airlines, vacation rental, etc. when you are not eligible for a refund.

I purchase an annual policy through Allianz that includes up to $5000 in cancellation coverage. It also covers things like lost luggage, emergency medical, missing a flight, etc. I have made a claim when a flight I was on headed home from a vacation was re-routed and we missed our connection and had to stay in Chicago overnight. I’ve never had to use it otherwise, but it represents peace of mind. This covers me in all my travels for a year. I’m letting it lapse right now with no immediate travel plans evident.

If you want to be covered for trip cancellation or interruption, then you need to purchase insurance and not put it upon your hosts or transportation to cover you for what you choose to do.

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