Summer vacations: Do you need travel insurance?

DETROIT – Many unexpected events can ruin the family vacation you have been looking forward to for a long time: lost luggage, medical emergencies, even a death in the family.

In those instances, it may be nice to know you have a travel insurance policy to fall back on.

Travel insurance is a cushion against life's unpredictability, but is it always worth the cost?

"It's going to protect you if your trip is canceled, if your baggage is lost, if you get a medical issue and need to be evacuated," said Laura Adams, of InsuranceQuotes.com.

If cost is a concern, Adams advises that you be selective about the coverage you buy. Travelers have the option to buy a policy that covers just the airline tickets and the hotel. However, when your journey is taking out of the country, experts say to consider travel insurance that covers medical emergencies.

"If something happens to you and you're overseas, and you don't have medical insurance, that could really be a huge bill," Adams said.

Some policies can also help guarantee that you will be able to work with someone who speaks English, which can be helpful during a medical crisis.

Beware of loopholes

Experts say that when purchasing a policy that covers medical emergencies, make sure you understand any limits for pre-existing conditions. To avoid those traps, buy your coverage within seven to 30 days of making the first payment for your trip.

Check with your provider about what time span they require so those loopholes won't be a problem. If you are in poor health, you probably want to buy your coverage as soon as you start booking your trip.

Also, if you have loved ones in poor health back home, that might affect your decision to buy the policy.

"That could cause you to come home early and cut the vacation short. These are all reasons to look into travel insurance," Adams said. 

If you're still on the fence about buying travel insurance, here are some points Help Me Hank discovered during our investigation.

It's probably a good idea to buy travel insurance if you:

  • Spend more than $5000 on the trip
  • Travel on a cruise ship, overseas, or to multiple destinations
  • If you're an anxious traveler, having the travel insurance might help you take a deep breath. 

You could probably skip the traveler's insurance if you:

  • Spend less than $5000
  • Travel short distances or within the United States
  • Stay with friends and family
  • Purchase the trip with a credit card that offers travel insurance

Travel insurance usually costs five to 10 percent of the total trip price. If you're spending less, you might not be getting all the coverage you need.