Oct. 19, 2017
The average employee in the United States only takes about half of their paid vacation days in a given year, according to a rather depressing survey by Glassdoor.
So to think of those few precious days we do actually take away from the office getting ruined by an unexpected illness, storm, injury or another unforeseen event would be truly tragic. And that, my overworked, underpaid and in need of a good vacation friends, is why you should be investing in a little travel insurance.
“Comprehensive travel insurance plans offer the most protection for travelers,” Lynne Peters, director of product at InsureMyTrip.com, says via email.“These provide a variety of benefits including trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, 24/7 emergency assistance, travel delay and baggage protection. Plans typically run 4-8% of the total trip cost.”
As an example, Peters explained that for a $5,000 two-week vacation to Aruba, a comprehensive travel insurance plan will cost a couple in their 50s around $200. This includes a $50,000 medical limit and $250,000 for medical evacuation in addition to trip cancellation coverage and other benefits.
And no, travel insurance isn’t simply clicking that little pop-up box that comes up when you go to book your flight. That, Peters said, likely won’t cover any of your other travel expenses or provide you with emergency medical coverage and key benefits that traditional travel insurance offers.
So what should you be looking for when buying insurance for your hard-earned vacation? According to Peters, it’s all about a comprehensive plan that covers it all, including trip cancellation, which will cover specific reasons for canceling a trip, such as a sickness or an injury before you leave, the death of a family member or even a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake.
“Be sure to read the fine print of the policy to know exactly what is covered and what’s not,” Peters says, noting that it should include trip interruption, which will cover specific reasons why you must cut a trip short including bad weather or unforeseen natural disasters. It should also cover emergency medical coverage and evacuation and baggage protection, which could offer a full reimbursement or a stipend if your bag becomes lost, stolen, damaged or delayed.
And if you happen to have travel plans during this particularly destructive and dangerous hurricane season travel insurance may be just what you need. As Peters explained, some plans will allow you to cancel your entire trip if your destination is under a NOAA-issued Hurricane warning.
And if you’re already on your trip and disaster strikes Peters explained there are options, albeit limited ones, to try to recoup some of the cost.
“During severe weather, airports may experience widespread delays and cancellations,” Peters says. “Airlines may issue travel vouchers. However, any travel voucher issued by airlines may only be available for passengers traveling to or from specific airports.” She added that cruisers should also check whether their sailing will be impacted by any impending storms. “Cruise lines may change itineraries or cancel with little notice. Refund policies are typically limited. Some fare codes are non-refundable,” she added.
As for what’s not covered by insurance, Peters explained that “generally, travel insurance policies don’t cover risky activities — some plans also have something called an ‘alcohol exclusion’ — so, there’s a good chance you won’t get a claim paid if something went wrong due to being under the influence.”
Travel insurance may seem like a big-ticket item on an already expensive trip, but trust us when we say that this peace of mind investment is well worth it, especially if it’s your one and only vacation all year. Now go and use those days off, you did earn them after all.