Holiday travel is back and booming, and EuroJournal predicts that travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States this year may meet–even exceed– pre-pandemic levels. That means the days of short security lines, empty lounges, and half-sold flights are, sadly, a thing of the past! As the industry copes with the unbelievable comeback of travel going into the holiday season, a traveler preparing for their holiday trip may be thinking: will travel be crazy enough to warrant travel insurance?
The answer is… possibly. Travel insurance, meaning purchasing an insurance plan that would insure against misfortunes like massive flight delays, cancelations, overbooking, lost bags, weather, etc., can be a good idea, especially when travel predictions for the season point to busy, possibly chaotic, conditions. But really, this depends on a variety of factors, including points of departure, destination, mode of travel, and method of booking. So, in returning to the question of “should a traveler get travel insurance for holiday travel this year?” read the Pros and Cons below to see what the best answer may be depending on the circumstances!
What’s Holiday Traveling Really Looking Like in 2022?
Well, there’s some good news here. Though numbers of travelers based on airline bookings and hotel stays seem to outpace 2021’s holiday numbers, the turbulent summer travel season actually prepped the industry for what is to come at the end of the year. Experts are “cautiously optimistic” that travel companies learned from their logistical and customer service challenges over the summer and that they have had enough time to “recover and regroup” to make the boom of holiday travel more efficient and less painful for travelers overall.
Hopefully, this prediction ends up coming true. However, a continued pilot and airport personnel shortage, as well as the growing possibility of erratic winter weather, threatens to derail even the best of the industry’s precautions and preparations. There are some mitigating steps a traveler can take to minimize the head (and heart) ache of travel disruptions and upheavals, though. Some industry analysts encourage flyers to take hand luggage onboard rather than checking bags. But what if there’s no more room in the overhead bin space? Other experts suggest flying in the morning on a non-stop flight. Well, what if a post-workday evening flight is the only choice because of work duties? Or is the destination too small to have non-stop flights? Many experts are also saying to avoid the day before Thanksgiving and the Friday before Christmas, but again, many holiday travelers simply do not have a choice. So what can be done? This is where travel insurance can come in.
Ways To Get Your Money Back: Travel Insurance Pros
Travelers can obtain insurance in a few different ways– some companies, like Allianz Travel Insurance and AIG Travel Guard– allow customers to customize and build insurance plans that work best for their travel needs, while other insurance companies offer comprehensive pre-built plans that work well universally. Often, it is also possible to add a plan to existing insurance that a traveler already has, like through AAA or health insurance. Sometimes, credit card companies also include travel insurance as so long as the traveler books all travel on that credit card.
Did you know that according to the United States Department of Transportation, airlines are not required to provide any “extras” when a flight is canceled or delayed? This means an airline is not required to reimburse or cover hotel rooms, food vouchers, transportation to and from the airport, etc. On top of that, even though flyers are entitled to full refunds, even on non-refundable tickets due to cancelations or delays, this does not mean the refund always comes through efficiently or sometimes at all.
So, travelers may end up on the hook for a hefty emergency-induced bill. Travel insurance could reimburse the policyholder up to a certain amount for these ancillary costs. Canceled trains for US domestic travel are a little murkier than aviation rules and regulations, which means there’s an even higher chance that train riders can be left high and dry without recourse in the event of delay or cancelation. Traveling during the holiday season, a time of unpredictable weather, means that delays or cancelations are totally within the realm of possibility.
Travel Insurance Can Cover Delayed Or Lost Bags
While certain technologies like airline apps and Air Tags can help minimize the amount of time it takes for a traveler to realize that his or her bag is lost or didn’t make it on the plane, what recourse is there for the inconvenience of losing the bag?
Once again, airlines are under no obligation to provide any sort of compensation for a delayed bag (some policies mandate that airlines must reimburse for lost or damaged luggage, but again this can be more difficult than it needs to be). So it is a possibility that a flyer may have to either figure out how to live off of what they took with them on board or purchase necessities.
Imagine losing all the holiday presents packed in a checked bag, too–while it can be heartbreaking, at least the presents are more easily replaceable via insurance coverage.
Accidents (and Theft!) Happen
Airline mishaps aren’t the only reasons why travel insurance is worth investing in during the holiday season. Traveling during this time inevitably means that travelers are carrying things of value that they normally wouldn’t be, like nicer clothes to wear to holiday festivities, expensive gifts, or costly cameras to take that once-in-a-decade family reunion photo.
Crowded spaces like airports or train stations during the holidays mean things can get lost or stolen, and once again, travel insurance can help offset the cost of replacing those items.
Perhaps, as a savvy traveler who knows holiday travel is hectic, one manages to rent a car. Even the best of intentions to avoid headaches can end roughly if, hypothetically speaking, there’s an accident (remember driving in the winter can be hazardous!), a flat tire, or a stolen vehicle. While travel insurance won’t solve everything involving the accident, it will surely help in the event of monetary damage.
Is it Worth It? Cons Of Travel Insurance
Sometimes, travel insurance really may not be worth the time to pick a plan or build coverage or the additional cost of either a travel credit card or the plan itself. Travel insurance is expensive, and it takes some research to find the best configuration that suits individual needs, so the price tag coupled with the time investment means kind of a lot of work for something that may not be used.
Even the most inexpensive coverage can cost in the triple digits, which is way beyond what many budget travelers can afford. Speaking of costs, travel insurance will also only insure up to certain amounts for certain things, so even though a traveler may have a policy, not everything they lose will be 100% covered. While something is better than nothing, it can still be very frustrating, especially with the price of some of these plans, to not get a return that seems worth it.
Furthermore, reimbursement through travel insurance does require some foresight. Getting compensated for any of the above things requires the policyholder to document the cost of everything they’re seeking money for. During a hectic travel time, it may not occur to someone to save that tiny airport receipt for a toothbrush and toothpaste; it may get shoved in a pocket or buried in the bottom of a purse or backpack, so having travel insurance becomes a moot nuisance if the policyholder isn’t the kind of person who would save documentation.