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Top Tips for Buying Travel Insurance

Flight Delay/Airport, Shop a la Carte

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Buy Travel Insurance à la Carte

The biggest change in trip insurance in the past decade is the wealth of new, smaller options: buying coverage just for medical concerns, or just for trip delays, or even just for baggage. “Travel insurance has gone from a one-size-fits-all type product to plans that are really customized for specific types of travelers and needs,” says insurer TravelGuard spokesman Dan McGinnity. “We have plans for student travelers, or for outdoors fanatics, or for kids under the age of 17 for no additional cost.” According to North Carolina travel agent Nancy Cutter, the industry has “realized that some people don’t want all the bells and whistles.”

If you have bad luck when it comes to flight delays and cancellations, for instance, you might think about trip delay or interruption insurance—which would cover your costs if you have an unexpected layover due to an airport shutting down—and can cost as little as $10. After all, you might not feel like you’re vulnerable for medical reasons on your Mississippi riverboat cruise, but you could be up a creek if you miss your flight connection and, as a result, the cruise’s embarkation.

Some companies even sell annual coverage. American Express’s Global Travel Shield offers trip delay plans that start at $9 for a single trip or $99 for any trip you take during one year.

Some would say, though, that a trip delay plan is often not worth it. “It depends on what caused the delay,” says the Consumer Federation of America’s Robert Hunter. “If it’s the airline’s fault, you already have protection; they have to put you up, especially if you say that magic number”—Rule 240, which refers to the Contract of Carriage, the rights that airlines are required to grant passengers. “But if it’s weather-related, you’re stuck—they don’t have to pay when it’s not their fault.

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