For a fraction of your vacation cost, travel insurance can not only get you out of a jam, but may even save your life. By, Diane M. Byrne

As vice president of Travel Guard North America, Dan McGinnity has heard plenty of tales of travel woes. Some have been minor inconveniences, but others have been considerably more dramatic.

In one such case, a particular family lost their IDs, passports, and other personal effects when a catamaran they were on started to sink. Unfortunately, McGinnity says, the family had not purchased travel insurance. If they had, Travel Guard would have covered the cost of replacing their passports, plane tickets, and possessions, plus the unused portion of the trip.

While situations like this are few and far between, McGinnity says travel insurance allows travelers to be prepared for the unexpected.

Travel insurance is not expensive. In fact, McGinnity says, “six to eight percent of the trip cost” plus calculations based on the travelers’ ages is the rule of thumb. For example, a $20,000 trip with four people ages 40 to 55 is $375 each for the most comprehensive Travel Guard coverage plan, called Platinum. This includes medical emergencies and trip cancellation due to job loss or other work-related reasons.

Most claims are for last-minute trip cancelations. A common scenario: “Two days before your trip, your mother, father, child, or travel companion becomes seriously ill,” McGinnity says. Travel insurance lets you rebook without losing money. The same holds true for hurricanes.
Acts of God are covered. Remember the Icelandic volcano eruptions last summer that wreaked havoc in Europe? News reports stated that flyers couldn’t get reimbursed for canceled flights—not so for those with travel insurance. “Our call volume during that period was up over 300 percent,” McGinnity says, adding that anyone whose trip was interrupted or postponed received coverage regardless of the plan chosen.

Personal medications and even medical evacuations back home are provided. Coverage is particularly important for travelers with health issues. McGinnity says that during the volcanic eruptions, “We helped coordinate prescription drugs for people running out of blood pressure medicine.” Even for healthy travelers, if they’re adventurous, McGinnity recommends upgrading medical coverage to allow for MedEvac or other transport to the hospital of your choice. “Depending on where you’re traveling, you may not want to go to the nearest medical facility,” he says.