Chapter 5: is travel insurance worth it?

Illustration of airport interior







One thing you learn quickly when you travel: Costs can add up. And if you’re cutting corners and trying not to overspend, you might be wondering if 
travel insurance is worth it.

Good news: Travel insurance really is worth it, in terms of what you pay and what you could receive.


Is Travel Insurance Worth It? 
 

Travel insurance... is often worth the investment for its potential to help reimburse you for hundreds of thousands of dollars of covered travel-related expenses
 

Though you may pay 5 to 10 percent of your trip cost for travel insurance, travel insurance is often worth the investment for its potential to help reimburse you for hundreds of thousands of dollars of covered travel-related expenses like emergency evacuation, medical bills, and costs related to trip cancellation and interruption.

Also, trip insurance is recommended for travelers by the U.S. State Department, further underlining its worth. (Source: travel.state.gov)
 
 

Bad Things Can Happen When You Travel ...


Obviously, if nothing happened to people when they travel there’d be no need for travel insurance.

However, travel mishaps are surprisingly common. For instance, each year:

  • More than 111k flights cancelled in 2021 (Source: BTS)

  • Tarmac Delays increased by 181% in 2021(Source: BTS)

  • More than 2 million bags were mishandled in 2021 (Source: BTS)

  • 20% of flights delayed in 2022 (Source: valuepenguin)

And this doesn’t include the thousands of medical emergencies, evacuations, trip cancellations, and trip interruptions that befall travelers every year.

… And Unexpected Travel Expenses Can Be Very Costly

Fixing travel troubles can be very hard – and very expensive. Let’s look at the potential costs, and how travel insurance can help.
 
 


1.  Medical Emergencies


Potential costs: Hundreds of thousands of dollars


Not all medical plans will cover you when you travel overseas. Medicare won’t.

If you have a medical emergency when you’re traveling, you could be faced with thousands of dollars of bills that you have to pay on the spot.

Potential cost versus insurance cost graphic


What Travel Insurance Can Do:


Travel insurance can help pay hospital and doctor bills if you get sick or injured when you’re on the road.

What’s more, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection has experts at dealing with overseas medical emergencies. They know how things work and who needs to be paid when.

They literally speak the language.
 
 


2.  Medical Evacuation


Potential costs:
Well over $100,000 or more in emergency evacuation and transport to a medical facility 

(Source: travel.state.gov)

If you have an accident or become seriously ill, a simple medical evacuation from a close, relatively accessible destination like Canada can cost $20,000 or more.

A complex evacuation from a more remote destination or off a cruise ship could break your retirement account or drain your home-equity line of credit – and medevac firms typically won’t arrange transport without upfront payment.  That’s where your travel insurance plan kicks in.


Medical helicopter performing evacuation graphic
 
 

What Travel Insurance Can Do:


Travel insurance can pay much of the cost of an emergency medical evacuation including the upfront costs usually required by the evacuation companies.

In addition, it can also help arrange transport – not only for the patient, but also for a traveling companion.

And because travel insurance companies do this sort of thing all the time, they’re very good at it.

That’s why the U.S. State Department explicitly states, “You should strongly consider purchasing evacuation insurance." (Source: travel.state.gov)

3.  Trip Cancellation

Potential costs: Full cost of trip

That feeling of elation after you’ve booked your dream vacation can quickly fade when an unexpected emergency forces you to cancel your trip.

A child’s illness, parent’s surgery, or a work emergency is traumatic enough without the prospect of losing everything you’d paid up-front for your vacation.

 
Child in hospital bed graphic
 

What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel insurance can reimburse you for any nonrefundable trip costs you’ve already paid if you have to cancel your trip for a covered reason.

This lets you reschedule your dream vacation instead of watching it fly out the window … along with all the money you’d paid in advance.
 
 


4.  Trip Interruption

Potential costs: The remaining costs of your trip plus return airfare and lodging

Having to interrupt your trip and return home can be a complex, painful, and expensive process.

And as the State Department notes, “Trip interruption or cancellation, flight delays, lost or stolen luggage, and other unexpected travel costs can add up." (Source: travel.state.gov)

  

Plane flying to United States graphic
 

What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel insurance can help reimburse you for any unused, nonrefundable trip costs you’ve already paid for.

In addition, the policy may even pay for a return flight home.

So for instance, if you were on a trip to England that ended three days from now, and an emergency back home forced you to leave immediately …

  • Travel insurance could pay you back for that Thames cruise you never got to take

  • And, depending on the policy, it could also help you pay for the new, last-minute flight to get back home now costing you $2000 

5.  Lost Luggage


Potential costs: Replacement clothes, toiletries, and new luggage

Arriving at a destination without your luggage is an awful way to start a vacation.

  
Assorted luggage graphic
 


What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel insurance can give you the nice, warm feeling that everything is going to be okay by helping you buy needed clothing, shoes, and toiletries.

With travel insurance lending a helping hand, you can enjoy your first day of your vacation ... even without your luggage.
 
 


6.  Flight Delay


Potential costs: Time, rebooking fees, lodging, and meals

Just a simple flight delay can ring up expenses like food and lodging, a change of clothes, and even something as basic as a toothbrush.

 
 
Flight status board graphic
 


What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel insurance can help reimburse you for these extra expenses – including rebooking fees, meals, accommodations, and yes, a toothbrush – keeping your travel budget intact.

7.  Travel-Supplier Bankruptcy

Potential costs: Full cost of trip

When times get tough, travel companies can file for bankruptcy without notice, leaving travelers scrambling to replace the tour or scuba trip they’d already paid for.



 
No longer in business graphic
 


What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel insurance can reimburse you for prepaid trip costs if a tour operator’s bankruptcy leaves you high and dry.

Travel assistance can also help you line up alternative activities and make other arrangements.
 


8.  Lost Passport

Potential costs: Time spent not vacationing but sitting around an embassy or consulate

A lost or stolen passport can be a huge hassle when you’re traveling – not to mention the fears of identity theft and the fact that you can’t really go anywhere until you get a replacement.


 
Lost passport graphic
 

What Travel Insurance Can Do:

Travel assistance that comes with most travel plans can help connect you with the embassy or consulate, and get you a replacement passport fast.

Nothing beats having a friendly voice on your side who’s been through this before.
 


9.  Rental-Car Issues

Potential costs: Out-of-pocket expenses, plus the potential for higher auto-insurance rates down the line

Okay, so you declined the collision-damage waiver when you signed the rental-car agreement, and now you’re stranded by the side of the road after hitting a stone wall.

Now what?


 
Hey Siri... how much will my insurance go up now?
 

What Travel Insurance Can Do:

If you opted for the rental car coverage when you bought your travel insurance policy, you’d be eligible for coverage for damage to the rental vehicle… and your auto-insurance premium won’t be affected.[1]

 

[1] Rental-car coverage not available in New York, Texas, Kansas, and Massachusetts.

BUT WHAT IF YOU ALREADY HAVE CREDIT-CARD INSURANCE?


Some people think the “travel protection” they have through their credit card is the same as travel insurance. Not necessarily.


Credit card checklist graphic


When something goes wrong on a trip, travelers who paid with a credit card can dispute the charges or get some reimbursement for some items they bought with that card … and sometimes that’s it.

Credit cards weren’t designed to protect vacations. The coverage that cards may include is generally not as extensive as a separate travel insurance plan. You should review the policy details to understand what you are being provided and, perhaps more importantly, not provided.

TRAVEL INSURANCE IS WORTH IT ...


Travel insurance can pay back prepaid nonrefundable expenses if you can’t go and it’s for a covered reason – such as a family member is hospitalized, your employer lays you off, a cruise line, airline, or tour operator goes out of business, and the travel assistance that usually comes with travel insurance can help with lost passports and other issues.


Conclusion = worth it graphic


Unfortunately, many things can happen and as a result, many travel professionals recommend travel insurance for all their customers’ trips, big or small.

… And Peace Of Mind Is Priceless. Just Ask The People Who've Benefited From Travel Insurance:


Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection customers like to tell how BHTP coverage gives them a feeling of safety and security when they travel.
 

five-star rating

”We went to Peru and as had been warned, our flight from Cusco was delayed due to fog. That caused us to miss our return flight from Lima to the States. BH managed our losses financially and were so supportive and friendly. Claims process was online and efficient. We got reimbursed within a week. We have used BH on two other trips since then. We wouldn’t use any other travel insurance firm.” 

– Deborah R.
  


Award-winning travel agent Cat Zuniga sums it up:
 
“I’ve seen too many scenarios with family members on their deathbed and clients about to depart to the Caribbean, where they’re begging me to get them their money back or reschedule their trip at no additional cost.”

Cat Zuniga -Cat Zuniga

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