Do you need travel insurance?

When to buy

Kundell notes that it's important to pay close attention to time frames when purchasing travel insurance. Some travel delay coverage kicks in within four to six hours while others don't begin until 24 hours have passed. Similar time frames govern how close to departure you can cancel your trip; 48 hours is common.

"You should buy your policy within two weeks of prepaying for your trip because some pre-existing conditions are typically waived if you purchase within that time period," says Kundell.

How can you tell if you need travel insurance? That depends on your personal and financial situation and the nature of the trip. Is your health likely to force you to cancel or postpone your trip? How much would you pay out of pocket for food and lodging if your flight were delayed, and what is a likelihood of that happening given your destination, seasonal weather, etc.? Are you exploring Bora Bora for the first time or taking a leisurely Alaskan cruise with your parents?

"The rule of thumb would be to ask yourself: What do you stand to lose?" says Kundell. "For some people, $200 is a lot of money. Others can afford to lose $200. It's a decision each person has to make."

You can compare travel insurance plans online at or obtain insurance quotes online from major travel insurers such as Access America, CSA Travel Protection, Travel Guard and USI Affinity Travel Insurance Services.

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