Deciding whether to buy travel insurance is one of those things that can get pretty confusing. It’s an extra cost that adds to your overall trip expenses, so it’s easy to want to skip it. But what if you don’t get it and then something happens and you end up needing it? Overthinking abounds. Obviously there’s no law that says you have to buy it, but it can provide valuable protection and peace of mind in some situations. Here are some things to think about when you’re deciding whether or not to buy travel insurance.

1. Trip cost and duration

One of the primary factors to consider is the overall cost of your trip and how long you’ll be gone. If you’re taking a short, inexpensive weekend getaway, or a trip you’ve carefully planned for affordability, there may not be as much need for travel insurance. But for longer, costlier trips—especially international travel—insurance starts to become a more justifiable investment. That’s because you’re putting a lot more money out for those types of trips, so you have more to lose.

2. Type of trip

The type of trip you’re planning to take can be a major factor in your decision. If it’s a simple road trip to a nearby city, your existing insurance coverage, like car insurance and health insurance, may be all the protection you need. But for more expensive vacations with more transportation and accommodations—like cruises, international travel, or adventure trips—specialized travel insurance can be important. These types of trips often have non-refundable expenses and unique risks that standard insurance policies may not cover. Check out our article on budget travel tips to find ways to save!

3. Prepaid expenses

Consider how much of your trip you’ve paid for in advance. If you’ve booked non-refundable lodging, tours, flights, or cruises, travel insurance can help you get a refund in case you need to cancel or cut your trip short due to unforeseen circumstances like illness, injury, or family emergencies.

4. Health considerations

Your health and the potential health or injury risks of your destination and planned activities are another important thing to think about. If you have medical conditions or are traveling to a region with limited access to good healthcare, it’s a good idea to purchase insurance that includes medical coverage. This can cover medical emergencies, evacuation, and transporting you to an appropriate healthcare facility.

5. Travel interruptions and delays

Travel insurance can provide coverage for trip interruptions and delays, which are pretty common these days. If your trip is disrupted due to weather, flight delays or cancellations, or other unforeseen events, insurance can help cover additional expenses like accommodations, meals, and transportation.

6. Lost or delayed baggage

Losing your luggage or having it delayed can be a major inconvenience. Travel insurance typically includes coverage for lost, stolen, or delayed baggage, which can help reimburse you for essential items and clothing you need to buy while you wait for your bags to be recovered or replaced.

7. Emergency assistance

Travel insurance often provides access to 24/7 emergency assistance services. These services can be invaluable when you are in cases where you lose your passport, need legal assistance, or need help with medical emergencies.

8. Personal liability

In some situations, you might accidentally injure someone else or damage property while you’re traveling. Travel insurance policies usually include personal liability coverage, protecting you in case of a lawsuit or liability claim.

9. Assess existing coverage

Before purchasing travel insurance, review your existing insurance policies, including health, homeowners, car, and any coverage your credit card might provide. Some of these policies may already offer travel-related protections. But check for any limitations or gaps in coverage that travel insurance could fill.

10. Read the policy carefully

If you decide to buy travel insurance, it’s important to read the policy carefully. Make sure you understand the coverage limits, exclusions, and terms and conditions. Different policies offer varying levels of coverage, so choose one that matches your specific needs and the type of trip you’re planning.

The bottom line: should you buy travel insurance?

The decision to buy travel insurance depends on several factors, including the type of trip you’re taking, how much you’ve spent, your health, and the potential risks involved. While travel insurance isn’t necessary for every trip, it can provide valuable protection and peace of mind when the unexpected occurs.