Photo: Flickr / radargeek
Preparing for my trip to Ireland this month has raised all sorts of financial issues.I’ve covered what money matters I’ll encounter, and why it pays to have a credit card in case of financial emergency.
Now I’m facing another conundrum: Should I buy travel insurance?
Losing money on any of these things would be tough, but it’s not like I’m spending that much.
Aside from the overseas, roundtrip flight, a couple pints of Guinness, food, and a warm place to rest my head at night, I don’t plan on breaking the bank. Also, I travel light.
For my purposes, I considered a one-size-fits-all plan that insuremytrip.com, an insurance comparison site, said would cost between $25 and $125, based on the $2,000 or so that I’m spending.
American Express’ Global Travel Shield Plastic caught my eye. I trust the company and I like what’s on offer: 24/7 emergency assistance, medical coverage up to $25,000, $500 to cover lost/stolen baggage and $2,500 reimbursement for trip interruption or cancellation.
For a mere $75, I’d rest easy… Unless the whole thing is a waste of money. So, do I need the insurance?
The short answer is no, said Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.com. Here’s why:
The weather’s just fine. Travel insurance makes sense when you’re going someplace where lousy weather could threaten to derail your plans. Like the Caribbean in hurricane season. Or New York in a blizzard. But where I’m headed, the weather should be pretty sunny—well, sunny with a chance of Irish showers.
I’m not spending much. Being the budget-savvy goddess I am, I found my roundtrip flight at a steal (gotta love the 6-week booking rule) and went the bed and breakfast route to save on lodging. Again, $2,000 isn’t small change, but by most travel standards, it isn’t extravagant. “If you were splurging $3,000 or more and you couldn’t afford for things to go wrong, then it’d make sense,” Banas said. “But considering your trip will be short (roughly a week) and that you’re getting everything at a discount, it’s hardly worth it.”
My flight should be covered. Let’s say on the day of departure, my European airline decides to go on strike and I’m promptly booted off the flight. Despite the pain in my rear, I won’t sweat it because according to Banas, most airlines waive the change fee when something like this occurs. And again, it’s not like I spent thousands for a cruise.
B&Bs are flexible with cancellations. Cancellation policies among bed breakfasts vary, but for the most part Euro merchants are A-OK when you cancel within reason and within a decent time frame (up to a week), says Banas. Most are happy to refund the price of the booking upfront, while others may take a cut of the payment. Again, it all comes down to what I spent. Being out $128 for two nights in Belfast outweighs that plus the cost of insurance.
So what do you think, should I get the insurance?
If you’re globe-trekking on a budget and want more guidelines on travel insurance, check out this story from our YM contributor.