It’s the most festive time of the year, and candy canes, snowmen and wreaths decorate doorsteps, malls, offices and classrooms. It’s the holiday season, and that means traveling to be with loved ones.
Whether you’re driving to your family’s home or hopping on a plane to jet off to a tropical location for a few days, it’s important to keep in mind that the weather during this time of the year can throw a wrench – you could even call it a Grinch wrench – in your travel plans.
The uncertainty of snowstorms hitting, causing drivers to evacuate the roads or planes to stay grounded, begs the question: "Are travel insurance and rental-car insurance worth the cost?"
What is travel insurance? There are different types, but travel insurance can cover:
- Trip cancellation, interruption or delay. If there’s a death in the family or you fall ill and are unable to travel, this policy can reimburse you for the nonrefundable portions of your trip.
- Medical expenses and medical evacuation. There are some situations while traveling where your health insurance may not cover you – for example, when you’re abroad. And there are other situations that are more catastrophic – say you’re hiking the Alps, slip, break your leg and need to be airlifted off the mountain. These coverages help keep you from incurring those costs on your own and being subjected to financial ruin.
- Travel assistance. This coverage helps locate doctors and contact family members in the event of an emergency.
Travel insurance helps protect you in several different scenarios and typically costs between 4% and 8% of the cost of the trip itself, depending on the coverages you select and your age.
Travel insurance policies are very specific and only cover you for situations outlined in the policy, so it’s important to know what’s covered before you purchase it. Some policies also have strict time limits on when you can file a claim. Because coverage is so particular and policies often have price tags of several hundred dollars, many consider it a frivolous expense and forgo buying it.
It all depends on the type of trip you're taking and whether having a policy would help to give you peace of mind. Talk to a local agent to see if purchasing travel insurance is a wise choice for your holiday plans.
If you’re flying to your destination this holiday season, you may need to rent a car to get about town when you arrive. When renting a vehicle, you must decide if you want to purchase rental-car insurance.
Rental-car insurance can come in handy. It can cost $20-$40 – depending on the coverage you select – and protect you from significant out of pocket expenses if the car is damaged due to a wreck or theft or if you’re liable for a collision.
However, your car insurance policy can protect you in the event of a loss even if you’re driving a rental. Speak with your auto insurance provider before traveling this holiday season to find out if your policy covers you in a rental-car and if it’s wise to purchase protection through the rental company.
Another complicating factor: Your credit card could offer auto coverage. Check with your company to see if this is the case for you and to see whether that coverage is adequate. Again, it's probably worth a conversation with your agent.
Either way, know the answer to the question before you're asked it. You don't want to make a decision on the spur of the moment at the rental-car desk.
It depends on what you’re comfortable with. Your home, auto and health insurance can still be in effect when you’re on vacation, so know what’s covered to ensure that you’re not paying for coverage you already have.
Safe travels and happy holidays!
Shannon Ireland writes for SafecoInsurance.com and HomeInsurance.com, an online resource for homeowners and drivers across the country. Offering comparative automobile and home insurance quotes, consumers rely on HomeInsurance.com for the most competitive rates from the top-rated insurance carriers in the country. The HomeInsurance.com blog provides fresh tips and advice on a range of financial topics to help homeowners and homebuyers make educated decisions about their insurance purchases.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.