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What to do about Travel Insurance

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In today’s travel environment, with airlines increasingly at risk of going out of business and traveling into dangerous territories, Americans are more and more turning toward travel insurance as a hedge against uncertainty. From lost baggage to cancellations to personal life insurance policies for the trip abroad, the added expense of travel insurance is becoming a must-have for your vacation to that tropical paradise. Travelers today need to plan for the unexpected, and travel insurance is the answer to the increased risks often associated with travel. Here are a few hints you need to know about travel insurance.

Travel insurance protects you and your family against lost baggage, flight delay, and even trip cancellation. But it also protects against bad weather and medical emergencies in a foreign land, an idea that is catching on due to increased awareness of flu epidemics and other dangers. When things go south medically, expenses can rise dramatically when overseas, especially when you consider that you may have to stay there until you are well enough to travel back home. And what about the airline default, when they suddenly announce that they are going out of business? Are you protected if this happens?

Before you check into travel insurance, it is best to find out if you already have what you need from your credit card. Often, credit card benefits include some sort of travel insurance just for using the card when you purchase the tickets. These include medical insurance abroad, lost baggage, and roadside assistance that you might think only applies to life at home. Check the fine print or go to the credit card web site to see what overseas protection you may already have before buying more. Your existing medical insurance also might already protect you for international travel, and they often cover the foreign prescriptions you may have to get if you need medical attention. Your homeowners insurance may also offer protection against baggage claims. Check your policy for more information. It is always best to learn how much insurance you already have before you consider add-ons that you will need to close the gaps in coverage. This is especially true for trips that include nontraditional travel, such as rock climbing, scuba diving, or other more adventurous getaways that carry additional risk.

Political unrest is another concern, as well as terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Be mindful also that death or injury due to transportation accidents after you arrive are often more common because other countries may not have strict driving laws. Also, in some countries, the foreigner is always to blame in an automobile accident, regardless of circumstances. The logic used is that the accident would not have happened if the foreigner were not driving the car—so you’ll be to blame by default. What is true here in the West may not be true in a foreign land, so be careful when choosing how much insurance you purchase, and what additional coverage you need on an extended stay where you do your own sightseeing.

The bottom line with additional insurance is that many are now purchasing it when traveling abroad, and the additional expense may well be worth the cost to the consumer who needs to plan for the unexpected. Travelers abroad can no longer afford not to be protected; there are too many unknowns to not have travel insurance any longer.

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