As vaccinations rise and restrictions ease, more and more Americans are making travel plans for the summer and beyond. But many are proceeding with caution amid the lingering uncertainty about the future of COVID-19 and memories of frantic trip cancellations in 2020 ― hence the increasing interest in travel insurance.
“Travel insurance is being seen more as an essential coverage,” Amy Danise, chief insurance analyst at Forbes Advisor, told HuffPost. “The pandemic showed us how unpredictable travel can be. Frankly, travel has always been unpredictable ― after all, you don’t expect that you’re going to get injured or ill before or during a trip. But the pandemic put a spotlight on ways we can increase our financial security, and travel insurance certainly fits that bill.”
People were quick to buy travel insurance as the coronavirus escalated last February, and the interest continued. But is travel insurance worth it now? Below, Danise and other experts share their guidance.
Consider the trip in question.
Your financial situation and the amount you’re splurging on the trip in question are significant factors when assessing the need for travel insurance.
“If you have just dropped a large amount of money on non-refundable trip deposits, travel insurance is already a necessity for you ― unless you can easily afford to lose that money if something goes wrong,” Danise noted.
“On the flip side, if you’re staying in the U.S. and you have refundable airline tickets and a hotel with a good cancellation policy, you may not need travel insurance because you don’t have much to lose,” she added.
Make sure the plan covers what you want.
If you decide to purchase travel insurance, it’s essential to read the details before committing to a particular plan.
“The biggest mistake that people regularly make with insurance is buying it with just a hope that it’ll be useful and protective, but only looking at the fine print when they need to use it,” said Scott Keyes, author of “Take More Vacations” and founder of Scott’s Cheap Flights. “It’s all well and good to buy things to give us comfort and peace of mind, but it’s important to recognize if you need to use this product, it might not be as protective or expansive as you assumed.”
Many people learned early in the pandemic that their travel insurance didn’t necessarily cover flights or accommodations they canceled due to concerns about the coronavirus because they hadn’t purchased “cancel for any reason” plans. As the name suggests, this type of insurance allows travelers to cancel their trips for any reason, including fear.
Naturally, the pandemic increased interest in this benefit. Last week, the travel insurance company Seven Corners reported a 180% increase in sales of “cancel for any reason” insurance plans in 2020 compared with 2019 and noted that this upward trend has continued into 2021.
“Unless you get ‘cancel for any reason insurance, travel insurance is mostly worthless for pandemic-related circumstances,” said Konrad Waliszewski, co-founder and CEO of the travel app Tripscout. “It can still certainly help for all the typical pre-pandemic related issues, such as sickness, injury, or common airline cancellations, but it’s unlikely any of the covered reasons will help you with the recently added uncertainty of traveling in the world of COVID-19.”