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10 Ways Travel Insurance Can Save the Day

These common scenarios show why savvy travelers buy travel insurance.

travel insurance

Let’s get one thing squared away before we even start: There are only 10 scenarios listed below, but the actual number of ways travel insurance is useful is far, far greater. Put it this way: How many different kinds of ways can a holiday abroad go sideways?

As many mishaps, minor incidents, and major catastrophes as you can think up, that’s the number of ways in which travel insurance can provide financial protection from travel misadventure—and the more robust your policy is, the more it will cover. The scenarios below cover some fairly common issues; note that all travel insurance policies are different and you should be sure to read the fine print on yours to ensure you’re getting the protection you need.

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travel insurance

Before the trip even begins

  1. You finally make plans to visit great-Aunt Gertie at her home in Wales and you’ve pre-paid everything—from the car rental to tickets to SeaQuarium in Denbighshire. Two weeks before your trip, Aunt Gertie is hospitalized with a serious illness.
    Covered by: Trip Cancellation, illness/death of host
  2. You and your military spouse are looking forward to a “second honeymoon” in Florence when his unit is unexpectedly deployed to help out in the latest hurricane disaster relief.
    Covered by: Trip Cancellation, work conflicts
  3. You’re working out in the gym in preparation for your upcoming trip to the bike trails of Portes du Soleil when you take a disastrous tumble off the treadmill and break your leg.
    Covered by: Trip Cancellation, injury or illness

Generally speaking, trip cancellation makes you financially whole when you’ve shelled out for pre-paid, non-refundable costs.

Mayhem in transit

  1. You arrive on time at your destination in Barcelona. Your luggage does not—and you need to buy a few essentials.
    No worries, as long as you’ve got: Baggage delay coverage.
  2. Your flight to Houston is delayed overnight because of bad weather, and you need a meal and overnight accommodations in Chicago.
    No worries, as long as you’ve got: Travel delay coverage. [Note, per the U.S. Department of Transportation: “Each airline has its own policies about what it will do for delayed passengers waiting at the airport; there are no federal requirements.”]

During the trip

  1. Your travel companion’s parent unexpectedly dies halfway through your pre-paid two-week tour of Tanzania.
    Get reimbursed for the unpaid portion of your trip with: Trip interruption coverage.
  2. You get a panicked call from your neighbor just as your cruise ship sails into Puerto Vallarta; your entire street has flooded, and you need to get home quickly.
    Get reimbursed for the unpaid portion of your trip with: Trip interruption coverage.
  3. The good news is that the hospital didn’t charge you for the “immediate emergency” caused by the mugging on the London Underground. The bad news is that you’ll need to stay for monitoring and (expensive) medication.
    Travel medical insurance can help by covering what your own health insurance doesn’t pay, including deductibles.
  4. Your family is having a wonderful time on a multi-gen vacation until one of the nephews has a terrible accident during the kids’ scavenger hunt. The injuries and aftercare will be more than the ship’s medical staff can handle and they recommend sending him home for treatment and aftercare.
    Two kinds of insurance can kick in here: Trip interruption and medical evacuation coverage.
  5. Your church group can’t wait to get started on that volunteer project in Jamaica. Unfortunately, at least some of you will have to, due to a missed connection.
    Not a problem when you have: Group travel insurance.

Other Experts, Other Scenarios

“Travel insurance was there when my friend had to be helicoptered out of the Amazon after he fell off a boat, when friend’s father died and she had to fly home, and another got her bag stolen.” —Matt Kepness, NomadicMatt.com

“On a trip to Panama my laptop computer was stolen literally right out from under my feet. I’d let my travel insurance lapse, and was no longer covered for the theft..” —Matthew Karsten, ExpertVagabond.com

“I would much rather spend an extra $100 or so for our trip and most likely never use the insurance than wipe out my bank account if something did happen… I don’t want to have “I can’t afford the medical bills that can save my child’s life” hanging over my head.”—Craig Makepeace, YTravelBlog.com

“Just before Nancye Van Brunt’s recent three-week trip to England, her husband lost his vision. ‘We were not in a position to go on this trip,’ says Van Brunt, a retired costumer from Cincinnati. ‘Our travel insurance ended up paying for almost everything. What this meant was that we were able to afford another trip.’” —Chris Elliott in USAToday.com

There are so many “Thank goodness I had travel insurance!” scenarios. What’s yours? Feel free to share your insights in the comments section below.

For all things travel-related, go to AAA.com/Travel.

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