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Pros Vs. Cons Of Purchasing Travel Insurance For Your Holiday Travel Plans

Holiday travel is back and booming, and Business Insider predicts that Thanksgiving and Christmas travel in the United States could reach — even exceed — pre-pandemic levels this year. This means the days of short security lines, empty lounges and half-sold flights are unfortunately a thing of the past! As the industry deals with the incredible return of travel in the holiday season, a traveler preparing for their holiday trip may wonder: will travel be crazy enough to warrant travel insurance?

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The answer is… possible. Travel insurance, which means purchasing an insurance plan that will insure against mishaps such as massive flight delays, cancellations, overbooking, lost bags, weather, etc., can be a good idea, especially when travel forecasts for the season indicate busy, possibly chaotic , conditions. But really, it depends on a variety of factors, including departure points, destination, mode of travel and method of booking. So, getting back to the question of “should a traveler get vacation travel insurance this year?” read the pros and cons below to see what might be the best answer depending on the circumstances!

Related: Don’t Panic! How to eliminate (any) holiday travel stress


What does holiday travel really look like in 2022?

Well, here’s some good news. Although the numbers of travelers based on airline bookings and hotel stays appear to exceed 2021’s holiday numbers, the heady summer travel season has actually prepared the industry for what’s to come at the end of the year. Experts are “cautiously optimistic” that travel companies have learned from their logistical and customer service challenges over the summer and have had enough time to “recover and regroup” to make the holiday travel surge more efficient and less painful for travelers overall.

Hopefully, this prediction will eventually come true. However, a continued pilot and airport staff shortage, as well as the growing possibility of erratic winter weather, threatens to derail even the best of the industry’s precautions and preparations. However, there are some mitigating steps a traveler can take to reduce the headache (and heartache) of travel disruptions and upheavals. Some industry analysts encourage fliers to take carry-ons on board rather than check bags. But what if there is no more room in the overhead bin? Other experts suggest flying on a non-stop flight in the morning. Well, what if a post-workday evening getaway is the only choice due to work duties? Or is the destination too small to have non-stop flights? Many experts also say to avoid the day before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Christmas, but again, many holiday travelers simply don’t have a choice. So what can be done? This is where travel insurance can come in.

Ways to get your money back: Travel Insurance Benefits

Travelers can get insurance in a few different ways – some companies, such as Allianz Travel Insurance and AIG Travel Guard – allow customers to customize and build insurance plans that work best for their travel needs, while other insurance companies offer comprehensive pre-built plans that universally works well. Often, it is also possible to add a plan to existing insurance that a traveler already has, such as through AAA or health insurance. Sometimes credit card companies also include travel insurance as long as the traveler books all trips on that credit card.

Related: These are the best travel insurances to have in 2022

Did you know that according to the United States Department of Transportation, airlines are not required to provide any “extras” when a flight is canceled or delayed? This means an airline does not need hotel rooms, food vouchers, transport to and from the airport, etc. to compensate or cover. In addition, flyers are entitled to full refunds, even on non-refundable tickets due to cancellations or delays, this does not mean that the refund always comes through efficiently or sometimes not at all.

So, travelers may be on the hook for a hefty emergency-induced bill. Travel insurance can reimburse the policyholder up to a certain amount for these additional costs. Canceled trains for US domestic travel are a bit murkier than aviation rules and regulations, meaning there’s an even greater chance that train riders could be left high and dry with no way back in the event of a delay or cancellation. Traveling during the holiday season, a time of unpredictable weather, means that delays or cancellations are entirely within the realm of possibility.

Travel insurance can cover delayed or lost bags

While certain technologies such as airline apps and Air Tags can help reduce the amount of time it takes for a traveler to realize that his or her bag is lost or didn’t make it onto the plane, what recourse is there for the inconvenience of losing the bag?

Again, airlines are under no obligation to provide any kind of compensation for a delayed bag (some policies require airlines to compensate for lost or damaged baggage, but again, this can be harder than it needs to be). So it is a possibility that a flyer will either have to figure out how to live off what they took on board or buy necessities.

Also imagine losing all the holiday gifts packed in a checked bag – while it can be heartbreaking, at least the gifts are more easily replaceable through insurance coverage.

Accidents (and Theft!) happen

Airline accidents aren’t the only reasons travel insurance is worth investing in during the holiday season. Traveling during this time inevitably means that travelers carry things of value that they normally wouldn’t, such as nicer clothes to wear to holiday parties, expensive gifts, or expensive cameras for that once-in-a-decade family reunion photo to take.

Crowded spaces like airports or train stations during the holidays mean things can get lost or stolen, and again travel insurance can help cover the cost of replacing those items.

Perhaps, as a savvy traveler who knows vacation travel is hectic, one manages to rent a car. Even the best intentions to avoid headaches can pretty much end if there is, hypothetically speaking, an accident (remember driving in the winter can be dangerous!), a flat tire or a stolen vehicle. Although travel insurance will not solve everything involved in the accident, it will certainly help in case of monetary damages.

Is it worth it? Disadvantages of travel insurance

Sometimes travel insurance really isn’t worth the time to choose a plan or build coverage or the added cost of a travel credit card or the plan itself. Travel insurance is expensive, and it takes some research to find the best configuration to suit individual needs, so the price tag along with the time investment kind of means a lot of work for something that might not be used.

Even the cheapest coverage can cost in the triple digits, which is far more than many budget travelers can afford. Speaking of costs, travel insurance will also only insure up to certain amounts for certain things, so even though a traveler may have a policy, not everything they lose will be 100% covered. While something is better than nothing, it can still be very frustrating, especially with the price of some of these plans, to not get a return that seems worth it.

Furthermore, compensation through travel insurance does require some foresight. Getting reimbursed for any of the above requires the policyholder to document the cost of everything they’re seeking money for. During a hectic travel time, it may not occur to anyone to save that tiny airport receipt for a toothbrush and toothpaste; it can be shoved into a pocket or buried in the bottom of a purse or backpack, so travel insurance becomes a nuisance if the policyholder isn’t the kind of person who will save documentation.

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