Do I really need travel insurance?

by Courtney Woodruff
USAA

Three days before we were supposed to be on a plane to London, my husband’s leave still hadn’t been approved. He’d submitted the request as soon as he was able, but it seemed to have hit a snag on its way up the chain of command. Even though we were on pins and needles waiting to hear whether or not we would have to cancel our expensive trip, we were used to the nail-biting process.

Since my husband joined the military, I’ve learned the hard way that planning anything more than a few weeks in advance is risky business. When duty calls, he has to go - even if we’re busy packing our bags for the blissful vacation we’ve been planning and dreaming about for more than a year. “Service before self” isn’t a platitude; it’s a military family’s way of life.

While we know we must accept it and even expect the military to derail our well-laid travel plans from time to time, disappointment still packs a heavy punch. The added expense of having to cancel or make changes to existing reservations could be the knock-out blow… which is why we are thankful for travel insurance. The only way we were willing and able to book flights, hotels and transportation for our trip to London in advance was knowing we had coverage to fall back on if we needed it.

If you’re currently planning a trip while juggling the uncertainties of military life, I highly recommend leaving room in your budget for travel insurance. It may seem like an unnecessary added expense at first, but it could end up saving you tons of money in the event of an unexpected PCS, deployment or temporary duty assignment. From medical coverage to flight changes to protection for personal belongings in the event they get lost or stolen, travel insurance could be a vacationing military family’s best friend.

Before purchasing a plan through an airline, cruise company or travel agency, check with your insurance provider; you may be eligible for special member rates.

Still asking yourself, “do I really need travel insurance?”

Three military spouses weigh in on why they also opt for the additional coverage when planning their vacations.

Lizann of Seasoned Spouse, “When we lived overseas, we took advantage of traveling in Europe. We always got traveler's insurance, because my husband's unit could always be called in for emergencies, and plane tickets for a family of six aren't cheap! Also, when our daughter was born overseas, we couldn't travel until she had a passport. My family planned a big reunion trip to Ireland when the baby was 2 months old. We had insurance in case the passport didn't expedite and we couldn't go.”

Amanda of Away We Run, “Planned our whole honeymoon only to find out my husband was getting deployed months prior. Got a full refund after 30 days !”

Amanda, “Before kids, my husband and I usually took the financial risk of no travel insurance. Now, with 4 kids, military life is too unpredictable; we always add trip insurance. The first big use was our 2016 Disney cruise that we had planned over a year in advance. We took the timing of deployments and PCS into consideration and booked our first cruise vacation with childhood friends. Eight months out, we received off-cycle orders to Germany. We tried everything to still cruise but ended up canceling. So glad we had the insurance! Made the cancellation easy.”

In the end, my husband’s request for leave was approved at the last minute, and we made it to London after all. Still, knowing it would’ve worked out just fine if it had been denied was well worth the little bit of money we spent to protect our travel plans. We’ll definitely be adding the optional coverage again next time we plan a trip.

Do you opt for travel insurance, or do you prefer to risk it on the road?

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