6 reasons you might buy travel insurance now — even if you never did before
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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.
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Here are six reasons why you should look into purchasing third-party travel insurance, even if you never thought about it in the past.
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:
- British Virgin Islands.
- Costa Rica.
- Democratic Republic of Congo.
- Saudi Arabia.
- Sint Maarten.
- Turks and Caicos.
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.
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.
Additional COVID-19 coverage
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 photo by Prostock-studio/Shutterstock.
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