Given the endless nickeling-and-diming that American airlines have been resorting to lately - charging for blankets, headphones, carry-on baggage, check-in baggage, early boarding, seat assignment etc - weary travelers might be forgiven for thinking that travel insurance is yet another attack on their wallet.
But, hard though it is to believe, not all fees are designed merely to fatten the bottom line of the airlines at the expense of travelers.
Travel insurance is an add-on that provides tangible benefits to travelers.
Smart travelers would do well to seriously consider travel insurance because like with everything else in life your travel plans too are subject to several factors outside your control.
You might have planned your vacation a year in advance and booked your tickets several months early, but who'd have predicted that a medical emergency would affect a close family member and force you to cancel the trip to Bali or Samarkand.
Canceled trips, lost baggage, medical emergencies and supplier bankruptcies can all wreak havoc not merely on your wallet but affect your peace of mind as well.
We live in an age of abundant choice and travel insurance too comes in diverse flavors, sometimes in a bewildering array of flavors.
Compare the different policies, consider your budget and seek the advice of your travel agent before making a final decision. Travel agents deal with variety of situations on a daily basis and are better equipped to assist you.
Broadly speaking, travel insurance covers six contingencies:
* Trip Cancellation: Covers non-refundable payments or deposits if a trip is canceled or interrupted due to unforeseen circumstances.
* Trip Delay: Provides reimbursement for expenses incurred should a trip be delayed.
* Accident/Sickness Medical Expenses: Covers costs incurred because of injury or illness on a trip. Call your health insurance provider a few months before leaving to find out what is covered/not covered in your policy when you are in a foreign country.
* Medical Evacuation/Emergency Transportation: Covers transportation when a medical emergency while traveling requires transportation to a hospital or other medical facility.
* Supplier Default: Covers deposits or payments lost due to the financial default of a travel supplier.
* Baggage/Personal Effects Loss or Delay: Covers losses on items lost, damaged or delayed during a trip.
The next time you call your travel agent to book a leisure or business trip, ask him how travel insurance can help to prepare for unexpected situations.
Make sure you understand the limitations of your travel insurance policy.
A family vacation can cost several thousand dollars when you factor in travel, hotel and miscellaneous expenses.
Why run the risk of a medical emergency, supplier default or some other unexpected event ruining your trip and causing you much grief.
More than two centuries back, the English poet Robert Burns wrote:
The best laid schemes of mice and men Go often awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain, For promised joy!
Travel insurance is your best hedge against unexpected events throwing your trip haywire and causing financial grief and pain.