The world of travel knows no bounds. That is until you encounter one of the many unpredictable twists and turns that adventure can bring. From extreme weather, flight cancellations and missed connections to medical emergencies, lost luggage and issues with airline operations, even the most meticulously planned itineraries can be upended. Believe us, it’s no fun picking up a family from the airport just hours after we dropped them off for their “vacation of a lifetime.”
As stories of stranded travelers and storm-ravaged vacation destinations fill newscasts, many travelers are thinking twice before electing not to protect their trip. If you carry an umbrella on a gloomy day, it’s guaranteed the rain will stay away, right? While it’s great to have superstitions and luck on your side, here’s some information to help inform your decision to spend on travel insurance.
Trip protection is not travel insurance
When purchasing a flight or cruise these days, the booking platform often asks, “Do you want to protect this trip?” Some even taunt us by asking if we’re willing to lose the money we’re about to spend. Frequently referred to as “trip protection,” this coverage is unregulated and often is a limited form of trip cancellation coverage that is self-insured by the travel provider. This option commonly waives cancellation fees and sometimes promises a credit (not a refund) for the full value of your trip.
Travel insurance, on the other hand, is a regulated product that covers a range of losses that might be experienced while traveling. Depending on the plan purchased, the coverage may extend to medical expenses, car rental damage, emergency evacuation, lost luggage or complete trip cancellation. The range of coverage options comes with a range of prices, with the Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) plan – the most flexible option on the market – bumping up the cost by about 40 percent.
Weighing costs, benefits and risk
It can feel defeating to research the best travel deals, track flight prices for months and cash in rewards points and miles only to negate those savings on travel insurance. Travelers spent an average of $266 per travel insurance policy in 2022 and the average claim payment was $2,157, according to data from Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison provider. It’s important to evaluate your specific travel scenarios against your risk tolerance by asking questions such as:
- Am I traveling internationally where my U.S.-based health insurance coverage doesn’t apply?
- Does the trip involve a lot of prepaid, non-refundable expenses?
- Is my destination prone to hurricanes? Am I traveling in hurricane season?
- Do I have a lot of connecting flights?
- Are the travel expenses significant enough to protect?
Standard protections without the added cost
When the world settled enough for travel to resume during the pandemic, all airlines, cruise lines, hotels and other travel providers adopted relaxed cancellation policies to revive the entire travel and tourism industry. While most COVID-related policies have since disappeared, the heightened focus on air travel hiccups and their effects on travelers led the U.S. Department of Transportation to demand more accountability from airlines. The Airline Customer Service Dashboard outlines the extra protections and benefits afforded to stranded travelers if the airline is responsible for the mishap.
It’s also important to check what coverage you already have through your medical insurance, homeowner or renter’s insurance and/or credit cards. As long as you are able to show proof through receipts and travel itineraries, these programs may reimburse you for the added costs of delayed or canceled plans.
As a travel partner that offers services we hope our guests never need – such as changing a flat tire or jumping a car battery – we recognize that Fast Park’s Peace of Mind® promise matters to many of our guests. Indeed, the merits of travel insurance will vary from trip to trip; however, having a solid understanding of the protections you already have and the potential risks you face will help to inform your purchase decision. At the end of the day, Peace of Mind® also has a value.