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- I always thought travel insurance was a waste of money.
- This year, with COVID-19 and unpredictable weather, I decided to splurge on $70 travel insurance.
- I carefully read each airline’s flight cancellation policies to help me decide if I needed one.
I have traveled all over the country to see my family since I was a teenager. My parents taught me to scour the internet for the best deals and pick the airlines that offered free checked baggage. When buying a flight, however, there was one thing we always overlooked: travel insurance.
Travel insurance covers the financial risks associated with flying, such as flight cancellations, lost luggage and emergency evacuation.
Some airlines, like JetBlue, include travel insurance as an additional expense at the end of the checkout process, while others, like Southwest, require you to use a third-party service to insure your flights. Some travel credit cards, like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, add free travel insurance as a benefit when you use that card to book flights.
Personally, I’ve always thought buying travel insurance was a waste of money. I could easily spend the extra $70 for dinner with friends or tickets to a few museums. But this year, traveling seemed more risky.
I considered getting travel insurance for peace of mind in case I get COVID-19
Between September and mid-October, I traveled to four different cities: Chicago, St. Louis, New York, and Albuquerque, while working remotely. Even though I am quadruple vaccinated, I wanted flexibility to be able to cancel my flights at the last minute in case I had COVID-19. As a youngster, I knew the physical effects would be bearable, but I didn’t want to spread the virus to more vulnerable populations.
Getting travel insurance could help me get reimbursed if I had to cancel my flight due to COVID-19. Plus, I’ve read that labor shortages are causing airlines to lose 30% more checked bags this summer. As I was going to be traveling for a long time, I wanted additional insurance to be compensated if my checked baggage was lost.
I carefully read each airline’s flight cancellation policy to decide if I needed travel insurance
I’ve been flying with the same two airlines for over 10 years: JetBlue and Southwest.
My family and I prefer to travel with Southwest because of their flexible cancellation policy. Southwest lets you cancel your flights for free up to 10 minutes before the plane departs, even after you’ve already checked in and arrived at your doorstep. Your canceled flight is turned into store credit that you can use to purchase a new flight. Because of this flexibility, it didn’t make sense for me to add travel insurance to my flights to the Southwest.
JetBlue does not have the same flexible policy. They charge a $100 cancellation fee if you book your flight using Blue Basic, the cheapest option, which I usually use. If you book your flight using the more expensive tiers – Blue, Blue Extra, Blue Plus and Mint – you don’t have to pay a cancellation fee to change your flight.
Still, I love flying with JetBlue because there is so much more legroom on their planes than any other airline. On top of that, some South West workers are currently on strike for better working conditions, and I wanted to support them by buying from another airline if it made sense financially.
In the end, I booked six flights: four with Southwest and two with JetBlue. I decided to spend $70 on travel insurance for each of the JetBlue flights after carefully reviewing each airline’s cancellation policy.
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Travel insurance gave me more confidence when traveling
Traveling in a post-COVID world is so strange. Something that was once as simple as having dinner with friends or seeing a Broadway show with my aunt carries the risk of spreading a deadly virus that is changing the lives of those at high risk.
With so many worries, travel insurance has crossed out the biggest: I can change my travel plans if I get sick, without losing the entire cost of the flight.