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The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

The Student News Site of St. Joseph's University

The Hawk News

Money Matters: Buying travel insurance

Money+Matters%3A+Buying+travel+insurance

I was booking a flight for a spring break trip in March. The airline asked me if I wanted to purchase travel insurance for the flight. I was thinking of buying it because the cost was low (only $29). Do you think it would be a smart purchase? —Jennifer O. ’22, English major

Erkis: Thank you for the question, Jennifer. It can be very tempting to purchase travel insurance since the cost is low compared to the cost of the flight. In rare instances, travel insurance is helpful. But, it’s rarely a good deal because it does not cover what most people expect it to. To find out what is covered, I went to the American

Airlines website. I searched “Trip Insurance,” then clicked on “Single Trip Plan options,” and then on “Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply – view policy.” This took me to the insurance company’s website, where I clicked on “Plan and Policy Details” under disclosures which took me to a new page asking for what state (Pennsylvania) I currently live in. Finally, I arrived at an      11-page document with all of the policy details written in insurance speak.

Most people will not make this effort to find out the details of the policy until they need the insurance. At that point, they will find out that there are many limitations and exclusions in these policies. For example, in the one I looked at:

The policy will only cover major, unexpected illnesses or injuries. The illness “must be significant enough to make a reasonable person cancel your trip” and you must be told in advance to cancel by a doctor or see a doctor within 72 hours who confirms you cannot travel.

A terrorism event must have happened within 100 miles of where you are traveling to but only if there were no other terrorism events within 25 miles of that city within the past 30 days. There is a death, legal requirement, natural disaster, severe weather or some other unavoidable issue that leads you to have to cancel or significantly change the trip. Finally, the payment may not be very much, as most policies will only pay for any unreimbursed expenses and losses even if the reason for the cancelation is covered. For example, if you receive a refund from the airline, the insurance will end up paying very little or possibly nothing at all.

The general answer is not to buy travel insurance. The only time I might consider buying travel insurance is if the trip is very expensive and to a location where it is possible there could be a problem (say, in an earthquake zone or something like that) in the future.

Lubomirski: Prior to departure on a trip to Spain last summer, I also wondered if buying travel insurance was a good idea and asked my dad for his opinion. He said, “Definitely not,” and told me his experience: he purchased insurance for a trip that he was worried possibly could be canceled due to scheduling conflicts. Upon actually having to cancel the trip, the insurance company said this wasn’t a valid reason for a payout. In fact, like Professor Erkis talks about above, only cancelation under extremely specific circumstances would be covered by travel insurance. I won’t be buying travel insurance for any future trips.

Nothing stated in this column should be considered investment advice or an offering of securities. Stock investing has risk and you should do your own research before investing.

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