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Travel insurance: Experts weigh in on when to buy it, when to pass

The policies, which generally cost 5% to 10% of the total trip cost, can protect your financial investment, your health and your belongings.

Consider your destination when deciding whether to buy

Consider your destination when deciding whether to buy travel insurance, experts say. Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock/scyther5

As you get ready to take your vacation, you’re likely debating, “should I or shouldn’t I buy travel insurance?”

Travel insurance protects your financial investment, your health and belongings.

“The bottom line is that you just never know what can happen," says Stephanie Goldberg Glazer, an insurance professional with LiveWellTravelOften.com. "The premium is generally 5 percent to 10 percent of the total trip cost,” she says.

Here’s how to determine whether it’s a good idea for you.

Check cancellation policies

Say you’re planning to stay at a hotel for five days but at the last minute can’t go.  “Often you can cancel without penalty until 5 p.m. the night before your scheduled stay. In that case, you might not need travel protection,” says Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice in Garden City, New Jersey.  However, if you booked a cruise or tour with cancellation penalties and you can’t go, travel insurance might be valuable.

Consider your destination

In the midst of your backpacking adventure in Machu Picchu, you break your leg and need medical evacuation.  Travel insurance would be a godsend. Emergency services in remote locations cost dearly.

Know what you’re buying

Be sure the policy covers your destination and what matters most to you, like medical expenses, damaged rentals, or cancelled plans, says Byron Ellis, a certified financial planner with United Capital Financial Life Management in The Woodlands, Texas.

Be clear about your biggest risks. “Will you be driving a lot of rental cars or are you more worried about the $10,000 in camera equipment you’ll be carrying?” Ellis asks.

Don’t over insure. A travel agent can help get the best policy for your needs.

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