An important part of vacation planning

Who Needs Trip Insurance?

by Debra L. Karplus, MS

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You, your spouse, and your two children are excited about the upcoming trip to Germany to visit your cousins. What a wonderful way for your kids to enjoy their school holiday break, visit relatives, and experience a foreign country. Your non-refundable round-trip air tickets for the four of you from Los Angeles Airport (LAX) to Frankfurt, Germany (FRA) totals nearly forty-two hundred dollars. It seemed like too much money when you purchased them online, but you seldom see these cousins, and since you will be staying at their home, you won't have any hotel expenses. So overall, the trip is expected to be relatively affordable.

But then you receive a phone call from your German kin stating that they are down with the flu and ask that you visit them another time. You really don't want to take your kids out of school for this trip taken at a later date, so you opt to cancel the trip instead. Ouch, forty-two hundred dollars down the drain. Perhaps you should have purchased trip insurance.

How do you purchase trip insurance?

Buying any kind of insurance can seem like a bit of a gamble, not unlike casino roulette game. You want the protection from it "just in case," but you don't want to over-insure your life either. But certain kinds of insurance sometimes make sense to have. And perhaps, a pricey trip like this Germany excursion might have been worthy of being insured for cancellation.

When purchasing your air tickets, there is typically an optional add-on charge to buy travel insurance. This goes through a trip insurance company that works with your airline. For example, a vacation on American Airlines would use Allianz Global Assistance Insurance for its travelers. Before clicking to pay for this option, you will want to read every single word of the fine print to be absolutely certain that you are getting exactly the coverage that you desire.

What can you expect to pay for trip insurance?

The cost for trip insurance varies. Just like your other insurance, such as auto or home, the more coverage you choose, the higher the expected premium. One travel website suggests that you should expect to pay four to twelve percent of the total trip cost on a travel insurance premium.

Single trip coverage for one specific trip might cost about thirty to thirty-five dollars to insure. But for people who travel frequently, the more economical deal per trip would be multi-trip insurance, which costs approximately $150 to $250 annually, depending on how much coverage you think that you need. You'll want to do some calculations to determine the best deal for your own personal circumstances.

What are some of the variables that determine trip insurance premiums?

When applying for trip insurance independent of your airline, you'll be expected to provide detailed information about your upcoming trip and the people who will be travelling. Total cost of the trip is a factor as is length and ages of the travelers. If you desire trip cancellation coverage, you want to be certain that any reasons, such as illness or weather cancellation, are covered on your insurance plan.

Some plans provide coverage of medical and dental care on the occasion that you might become ill while travelling. You'll want to carefully scrutinize your medical insurance policy to be sure you are covered when travelling, especially if you are leaving the United States. If you aren't, then medical and dental insurance on your travel insurance might be prudent, especially if you are taking a long trip, a far trip, or one of your travelers has some medical or chronic health problems.

Take a look online at some of the options for travel insurance.

Additionally, phone your air carrier and ask what choices they offer for travel insurance. You'll have to weigh the likelihood that your trip will need to be cancelled and determine if the risk of losing the total cost of your air tickets. Or perhaps, buying the refundable tickets instead of non-refundable and paying more for the air tickets initially might be money well spent if cancelling the trip is a possibility. You decide.

Reviewed May 2017

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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