Travel and trip insurance: when to buy it, what it does and does not cover, and where to get it

I have never insured a trip in my life—and I travel a lot. Only once has this come back to haunt me, and I'll get to that in a minute.

Travel insurance can cover a variety of things: trip cancellation, lost luggage, medical costs, emergency evacuation, and other travel mishaps.

How much does travel insurance cost?

Insurance packages can cost as little as $40 to $60 per person and is based on age; they usually run 5% to 10% of the total value of your vacation for folks aged 30 or 35 to 60.

Shopping for trip insurance

The quickest, easiest, and most economical way to find travel insurance is to use the comparison shopping sites:

You put in your trip details, it quickly shows you a side-by-side analysis of how much a policy would cost at each of 16 major travel insurers such as Travel Guard (

Should you buy trip insurance?

Medical evacuation and assistance insurance

If all you want is the assurance you would be able to get home quickly in the event of a medical emergency, consider signing up for medical evacuation insurance.

These programs are really intended more for travel to the developing world, where medical establishments may not be quite up to par. However, some people like the comfort of knowing they can get out of Dodge quickly from anywhere with any medical problem or medical emergency (like the time my brother-in-law needed to come home from Paris for surgery following an accident—don't worry, he's fine).

There are several outfits providing medical evacuation insurance starting under $100. Peruse them all; pick the one that best suits your travel needs:


Well, that's up to you and your level of comfort with where you've spent your vacation money. If you do, there are a few things you need to know: