Insuring Your Road Trip

"I'm planning my end-of-summer vacation, and I was thinking of taking a road trip. I don't need travel insurance for that, do I?"

While it's true that most often, travel insurance discussions center around flights and expensive trips abroad rather than road trips, that doesn't mean that there aren't a few considerations to take into account when you're planning your road trip and wondering about insurance. Typically, travelers who are driving rather than flying don't have as many pre-paid, non-refundable expenses as others, and therefore may not stand to lose as much money as those taking more involved trips. However, that doesn't mean you wouldn't be sorely inconvenienced – and probably more than a bit put out – if something did happen to ruin your plans.

One thing to consider is that if you're planning a stopover in an area that's a bit remote, an unexpected road closure could spell disaster. Some travel insurance companies actually offer a specialized benefit that could cover you if you simply can't get to where you were going due to an insurmountable obstacle along your route. This type of coverage is most often useful for people who may have booked a stay at an island retreat or in a waterfront cottage that's accessible only by one road. It's not a common benefit and not all companies offer it, so be sure to ask for it specifically if you feel that it would be of value to you.

Another question to ask yourself is whether you're driving far enough from home to want to take precautions for emergency medical care. If you're driving more than 100 miles from home – and most road trippers are logging far more than that! – you may want to look at the type of medical facilities that will be near you at each stop along the way. If, by some twist of fate, you needed critical care or became unexpectedly ill or injured to such a degree that you required a prolonged hospital stay, would you want to spend days or weeks in treatment at the local hospitals along your route? Or would you feel more comfortable being transported back to a hospital near your home, closer to family or to a doctor you know and trust? It's a personal question and a decision that only you can make, but some road-trip travelers do opt for travel insurance policies that include coverage for emergency medical evacuation back to their home hospitals.

Lastly, think about your plans and evaluate whether or not you're going to be putting down a lot of money on pre-paid, non-refundable expenses like hotel stays or planned experiences. What's "a lot of money?" That depends on your and your finances. Ask yourself, "If I woke up on the morning of my trip and couldn't go, how much money would I lose? Am I comfortable losing that amount?" A basic travel insurance package policy could come in handy if the answer is "No." If the unexpected were to happen and force you to cancel your plans – for example, severe weather damaging your home or accommodations, a sudden loss of employment, or unforeseen illness or injury happening to you or a loved one – many travel insurance policies could help you recoup your losses and take the financial sting, if not the disappointment, out of canceling your trip.

Written by on 1/24/14.
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