Whether you’ve already made your holiday travel plans or are procrastinating, consider making a small investment in your trip.
Get travel insurance.
We can’t predict who will get sick, if Mother Nature will cancel flights or if luggage gets lost, but we can play it safe by purchasing protection against sudden and unforeseen events. Some credit cards offer similar safeguards.
“Travel insurance can be relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider how much you could lose if something goes wrong before or during your trip,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a prepared statement. “Accidents, medical emergencies, illness — even lost baggage — all can quickly add up and turn the vacation of your dreams into a nightmare.”
Consumers spend more than $2.2 billion a year on travel insurance, according to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.
Typical coverage costs 4% to 8% of the cost of a trip, based on the length, destination, your age and type of coverage. Coverage for a $3,000 trip might cost $120 to $240.
If you’ve already made your holiday travel plans, it’s not too late to shop for a policy.
Whether it’s driving your own car; renting a car; riding
Whether it’s driving your own car; renting a car; riding in a bus, shuttle or taxi; or ridesharing via Uber or Lyft, your risks and responsibilities can vary considerably (Photo: Win McNamee, Getty Images)
Recent experiences showed me just how important it is to get a policy or to book flights with a card offering similar security.
My brother and his new bride were supposed to go to Paris in November 2015 but decided to cancel because of the terrorist attacks.
When they booked their tickets, they took out an insurance policy for $74, which included terrorism coverage.
Thanks to the policy, they got back everything but $300 ($150 each), cancellation fees not covered by the insurance policy.
A $74 policy saved them about $1,500.
Without a doubt, international trips and expensive vacations are the most important times to have an insurance policy.
“Travel insurance lets you travel with confidence,” Jenkins said. “By providing financial and logistical assistance, travel insurance helps you overcome a range of unexpected setbacks.”
According to AAA, which sells travel insurance through its partner Allianz Global Assistance, the most common protections are: trip cancellation, emergency medical transportation, trip interruption, delays, lost baggage, emergency medical care and rental car coverage.
Although insurance isn’t necessary for every flight, especially inexpensive ones, credit cards that include travel protection and other perks are worth considering.
After using the insurance, my brother decided he wanted coverage for all future trips and opened the United Airlines’ MileagePlus Explorer card.
I’m against anything that charges an annual fee so I initially didn’t like the idea of him getting a card which charged a $99 annual fee.
The perks such as free checked bags for the cardholder and a companion, which is a $100 value for a round trip flight, were enticing, but my brother wanted it for the travel insurance.
I learned just how valuable this card was when my dad needed emergency surgery days before a scheduled family trip.
If I had purchased my nonrefundable ticket on my own without the United card, I likely would have received a voucher for a ticket to use in a year and would have had to pay a $50 fee for changing my reservation.
With the card’s protection and a note from the surgeon, we easily got a full refund for my ticket.
Other airlines, cruise lines and hotel chains have credit cards with similar benefits and you also can look into cards not tied to one specific brand such as the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.
Credit cards in your wallet likely already include free car rental insurance and other travel perks, such as baggage delay insurance and roadside assistance, so read the card policies before opening a new account.
I hope you never have to use your insurance or credit card protection but having the extra safeguard is worth the peace of mind.
Here are travel tips from the Better Business Bureau:
Book through a reliable source. Check out travel agencies at www.bbb.org or search the BBB Accredited Business Directory for one.
Get details about your trip in writing. Be sure to confirm all details in writing, such as total cost, flights, hotel reservations, car rental, or any restrictions that apply.
Consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance provides coverage for particular perils that occur on your trip under which it will pay out claims. Read the fine print before purchasing and know exactly what coverage you are getting or not getting.
Pay for your vacation with a credit card. A credit card may offer you additional buyer protections in case your travel insurance does not cover your specific loss.