Skip to content

6 reasons you might buy travel insurance now — even if you never did before

Dec. 22, 2021
6 min read
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

I’ll be completely honest: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, comprehensive travel insurance wasn’t at the top of my list of considerations when booking a trip. But these days, I never book a trip without it.

With the rise of the omicron variant, more destinations reopening, vaccination rates rising and travel demand ramping back up during the holiday travel season, more people are planning and booking trips — many for the first time in over a year and a half. However, the pandemic isn’t over, and the risk of canceled trips or other mishaps is still ever-present.

Want more travel tips and advice from TPG? Sign up for our daily newsletter.

Here are six reasons why you should look into purchasing third-party travel insurance, even if you never thought about it in the past.

Related: 9 tips for flying during the holidays this season

Your destination requires travel insurance

Some countries are making travel insurance or health insurance that covers COVID-19 a requirement for entry. At the time of writing, this included:

  • Anguilla.
  • Argentina.
  • Aruba.
  • Bermuda.
  • British Virgin Islands.
  • Bolivia.
  • Cambodia.
  • Chile.
  • Costa Rica.
  • Curacao.
  • Democratic Republic of Congo.
  • Egypt.
  • Grenada.
  • Georgia.
  • Israel.
  • Jordan.
  • Nepal.
  • Oman.
  • Saudi Arabia.
  • Seychelles.
  • Singapore.
  • Sint Maarten.
  • Tahiti.
  • Thailand.
  • Turks and Caicos.
  • Ukraine.
  • Uraguay.

Others, such as South Africa and Brazil, don’t require insurance for entry. However, it is still highly recommended by either their governments, the U.S. Department of State or both to purchase insurance before your trip.

Related: Omicron update: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Some destinations — such as Costa Rica — now require some type of travel or health insurance policy that covers COVID-19. (Photo by Kryssia Campos/Getty Images)

The type and level of insurance coverage required varies by country — some require insurance that is satisfied by credit card travel insurance, others require a specific plan offered by the destination and many fall somewhere in the middle. Before booking your trip, make sure to double-check the entry requirements of the destination to ensure you factor the cost of insurance plans into your budget if necessary.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Additional COVID-19 coverage

A rapid COVID-19 testing site for arriving international passengers at Los Angeles International Airport. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Even if the destination doesn’t outright require travel insurance, you may decide to add a plan to your trip as a safety net. While being vaccinated provides effective protection from COVID-19, breakthrough cases are still a risk. And while your vaccine should protect you from getting severely sick, no one wants to have to foot the bill of quarantining for 10 days.

And in worst-case scenarios, travel insurance plans can also provide medical evacuation services if necessary, because these can be prohibitively expensive without coverage. Only a select few credit cards offer that kind of coverage, so third-party insurance is a better bet if you want that level of coverage.

Related: This travel insurance will fly you home if you test positive for COVID-19

An early return

When it comes to travel, stuff happens. You may need to leave your destination before your original return date for emergencies such as the loss of a family member, a bad weather event or a lost or stolen passport, to name a few. You want to be covered when the worst happens.

Related: Why booking your holiday travel with the right credit card matters now more than ever

You aren’t sure if you’ll end up going

The risk of COVID-19 and the hoops travelers have to jump through in order to get to some destinations can make even getting to board your flight a toss-up. TPG director of travel content Summer Hull recently went on a trip to Turks and Caicos where her travel documents weren’t approved until the last minute because of the tight turnaround needed to get tested and then get those results verified for entry.

(Photo by Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)

When the stars do align and make it possible to take that trip, it’s often 100% worth the hoops of entry. But it’s also important to protect the financial investment you’re putting into trips.

These days, flexibility is key, and third-party travel insurance — specifically cancel-for-any-reason coverage — can add so much peace of mind while planning any trip.

Related: Why I traded an international getaway for a last-minute discounted Disney Cruise

You’re taking advantage of cash deals

We’ve seen some great cash flight deals recently as airlines entice travelers to get back out there. But cash deals – especially if for basic economy — are often nonrefundable compared to when you book premium fares or use points and miles.

In the current world of uncertainty, travel insurance coverage is a great way you can take advantage of low-cost cash deals without having to worry as much about specific airline cancellation and refund policies.

You’re planning travel that isn’t hotels or flights

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a rise in long-term rental stays, road trips, national park visits and other types of travel that don’t necessarily involve a flight or hotel. These types of trips may not be covered by card protections or have clear cancelation and refund policies.

(Photo by Thomas Barwick/Getty Images)

Third-party travel insurance is a great option for covering the costs of these types of trips. If you find yourself taking more types of getaways that aren’t covered by your credit card protections these days, you should look into purchasing a third-party plan.

Additional reporting by Benét J. Wilson.

Featured image by Shutterstock
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

TPG featured card

Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

5X points
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.

Intro offer

Earn 80,000 Points
Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

Annual Fee

$695

Recommended Credit

670-850
Excellent/Good
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Apply for The Platinum Card® from American Express
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best luxury travel rewards card
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year.
5XEarn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership.

    Earn 80,000 Points
  • Annual Fee

    $695
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

Sometimes it's worth a large investment to reap the benefits of a great credit card. That's exactly the case with the Amex Platinum card. In exchange for the annual fee, you'll unlock access to the Amex Membership Rewards program that let you access airline and hotel transfer partners, along with new lifestyle and travel credits. This card is also incredibly rewarding for travel purchases, helping you rack up a ton of Membership Rewards points for your next award trip.

Pros

  • The current welcome offer on this card is quite lucrative. TPG values it at $1,600.
  • This card comes with a long list of benefits, including access to Centurion Lounges, complimentary elite status with Hilton and Marriott, at least $500 in assorted annual statement credits and so much more. (Enrollment required for select benefits.)
  • The Amex Platinum comes with access to a premium concierge service that can help you with everything from booking hard-to-get reservations to finding destination guides to help you plan out your next getaway.

Cons

  • The high annual fee is only worth it if you’re taking full advantage of the card’s benefits. Seldom travelers may not get enough value to warrant the cost.
  • Outside of the current welcome bonus, you’re only earning higher rewards on specific airfare and hotel purchases, so it’s not a great card for other spending categories.
  • The annual airline fee statement credit can be complicated to take advantage of compared to the broader travel credits offered by competing premium cards.
  • Earn 80,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $6,000 on purchases on your new Card in your first 6 months of Card Membership. Apply and select your preferred metal Card design: classic Platinum Card®, Platinum x Kehinde Wiley, or Platinum x Julie Mehretu.
  • Earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points for flights booked directly with airlines or with American Express Travel up to $500,000 on these purchases per calendar year and earn 5X Membership Rewards® Points on prepaid hotels booked with American Express Travel.
  • Get $200 back in statement credits each year on prepaid Fine Hotels + Resorts® or The Hotel Collection bookings, which requires a minimum two-night stay, through American Express Travel when you pay with your Platinum Card®.
  • $240 Digital Entertainment Credit: Get up to $20 back each month on eligible purchases made with your Platinum Card® on one or more of the following: Audible, Disney+, The Disney Bundle, ESPN+, Hulu, Peacock, SiriusXM, and The New York Times. Enrollment required.
  • $155 Walmart+ Credit: Cover the cost of a $12.95 monthly Walmart+ membership with a statement credit after you pay for Walmart+ each month with your Platinum Card. Cost includes $12.95 plus applicable local sales tax. Plus Ups are excluded.
  • American Express has expanded The Centurion® Network to include 40+ Centurion Lounge and Studio locations worldwide. There are even more places your Platinum Card® can get you complimentary entry and exclusive perks.
  • $200 Airline Fee Credit: Get up to $200 in statement credits per calendar year in baggage fees and more at one select qualifying airline.
  • $200 Uber Cash: Enjoy Uber VIP status and up to $200 in Uber savings on rides or eats orders in the US annually. Uber Cash and Uber VIP status is available to Basic Card Member only.
  • Get up to $300 back per calendar year on the Equinox+ digital fitness app, or eligible Equinox club memberships when you pay with your Platinum Card. Enrollment required. Learn more.
  • Breeze through security with CLEAR® lanes available at 100+ airports, stadiums, and entertainment venues and get up to $189 back per calendar year on your membership when you use your Card. Learn more.
  • $695 annual fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees