Travel insurance can save you headaches, but it’s not always necessary

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The problems that Jana Kaiser and her friends and family encountered with her destination wedding in Mexico are the vacation disasters we all want to avoid. They are all reasons why people buy travel insurance. FOX 4 Problem Solver Linda Wagar has some tips on when you should and shouldn't buy travel insurance.

Not every trip needs travel insurance. For example, if all you plan to do is buy a plane ticket to visit your family, skip the travel insurance even if you have to cancel. You can usually rebook the flight for a later date without too much of a penalty.

But if you are blowing your budget on some vacation extravaganza it's stupid to not consider travel insurance, at least that's what the experts say.

“I need to know that if something happens I would be covered,” Acendas travel agent Cynthia Riggins said.

She’s headed to Europe this summer with her mom and she made sure to buy travel insurance. She wants to know that if she or her mom ends up in a hospital, or worse, they won't have to worry. Riggins remembers one client who broke her hip in Europe and found herself on 12-day waiting list for surgery at a public hospital.

“We intervened and got her into a private hospital,” she said.

But the most common use of travel insurance is to cover trip delays where bad weather causes flights to be cancelled and forces you to pay for an unexpected hotel stay and meals. All that can be covered by insurance.

But not all insurance is equal, so read the fine print. You can compare insurance rates on sites like Generally speaking, the older you are, the more you will pay. A comprehensive policy can cost several hundred dollars or more.

Here's a tip if you are travelling as a group: Price both individual and group rates, the group rate might be significantly cheaper.

Also read the fine print. Getting any insurance company to pay on claim can be a struggle, so make sure you've followed all the rules.

For example, some policies don't cover high-risk behavior like scuba diving or paragliding, unless you buy additional coverage. Some don't cover pre-existing conditions if you haven't bought the insurance far enough in advance.

Also consider booking through a travel agent  who has a relationship with travel insurance companies and can fight for you if they try to deny your claim. Experts say don't overpay for your trip insurance. Before you shell out for a Cadillac plan, compare a less expensive option as it may be just as good. And, like with any insurance, only buy insurance for what you can't afford to lose. Otherwise it's probably not worth the cost or the frustration.

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