Should I Bother with Travel Insurance? (Ask Cranky)

It’s time to play Ask Cranky once again. Today we have a question about one of the many add-ons that airlines and travel websites try to sell you these days . . . travel insurance.

Travel websites are always trying to sell me insurance when I fly. Should I bother?


That’s a good question and there’s not one right answer. There are some things that might make you want to buy the insurance, but more Ask Crankyoften than not, it’s not going to help you. There are usually a bunch of exceptions and conditions on insurance like this, so it’s not easy to know exactly what will be covered without reading the full booklet for your specific policy.

Let’s take a look at Expedia’s Domestic Flight Protection Plan, for instance. If you, a traveling companion, or an immediate family member gets sick or dies, they’ll take care of you. (Of course, if you’re the one that dies, you’ll hardly care.) You’re also insured if you have a personal tragedy, like your home is destroyed by an earthquake or you lose your job.

So what do you get? Well if it happens before your trip, you can get your money back. If it happens during your trip, they’ll get you home as long as the cost doesn’t go above the cost of your original ticket.

So what limitations are there? The insurance doesn’t cover any loss caused by or resulting from:

Sickness or disease except as provided for in the policy; war or any act of war whether declared or not; while serving as a member of the armed services; while or as a result of riding in any device for aerial navigation other than as provided for in the policy; being under the influence of drugs or intoxicants unless prescribed by a duly licensed Physician; participation in any felonious act or attempt thereat; elective surgery; elective, non-emergency dental treatment or surgery; elective abortion; normal pregnancy, unless hospitalized; mental or nervous disorders, unless hospitalized.

These limitations aren’t actually too bad, and that makes this one of the better policies out there. Others are much more restrictive, so you’ll always want to read the fine print before committing to anything. But do you really need this?

It’s really up to you. You can never predict a personal tragedy, so this is simply something to buy you peace of mind. I’d be surprised to see it be worthwhile on a $59 ticket since it can run $20 per person but on a big, long, expensive trip it can make some sense.

This is a very timely question, because I’m actually working on a new business under the Cranky name that will help provide peace of mind for travelers in situations other than these. Stay tuned and I’ll have more info out here soon.

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