Do I really need travel insurance? This might help you decide

Do you need insurance for your next trip?

That’s a question we ask all the time on this site, and it was the topic of a popular series earlier this year.

Truth is, if you have to make just one large claim, you’ll be glad you had travel insurance. But what, exactly, are your chances are of making a claim on a travel insurance policy, and what kind of claims are typically filed?

This infographic is pretty enlightening.

Many thanks to our sponsor for giving us an early look at these numbers. Here’s a link to the full-size graphic.

Stay tuned for a sequel to the travel insurance series in early 2012.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • Charles Owen

    This is an interesting, but somewhat incomplete and  misleading, graphic. The 124 million statistic comes from the US Travel Insurance Association and includes all forms of travel insurance including some you get for free from your credit card companies (accidental death, rental car, etc). The number of actual purchased policies for a single trip or specific annual coverage is 27 million. These are what people have to decide about. The 1 in 6 number (17%) is based on the 27 million, not the 124 million like the graphic implies.

    I also was bothered by “Only insures about 13% of the claims filed” in relation to Medical Only plans. I would like to know the percentage of the claims dollar amount involved. The main reason I buy travel insurance is for the medical and evacuation insurance. While a trip delay may cost me some money, a medical incident can be bankrupting. I might lose $5000 if I can’t make a trip, but I could be out $100,000 for a medical condition on a trip that requires treatment and evacuation. The comment really downplays the importance of this element.

  • Carver Clark Farrow II

    It is said that there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.  It would take forever to deconstruct the sheer number of misleading statements in this graphic.  I’ll just stick with one.

    The graphic suggests that 1 out of 6 people who buy travel insurance will make a claim.  The graphic implies 124 million people purchased insurance, suggesting that there are 21 million claims annually.

    Even if we used Charles’ 27 million, that implies 4 1/2 million claims annual.

    But as we look closer that 1 in 6 people who file claims isn’t an annual number, but over their lifetimes.  So if a person has 45 years of flying, we have to divide the 4 1/2 million claim by 45 to get closer to 100,000 claims annually, a far cry from the numbers implied in the article.

    Many of the other numbers are equally misleading.

    Basically, there is a reason why industry generated content is always suspect

  • scapel

    Years ago I used to travel and take cruises and did not buy
    Travel Insurance. Somewhere along the way I decided maybe I should. In 2007 I
    took 5 of my 7 children and their spouses on a cruise. My DIL from Germany fell
    on the first night of the cruise, sustained a fracture dislocation of her ankle
    and had to get off the ship and go back to Germany for surgery. She and her
    husband flew first class out of San Juan to Germany .  With the travel insurance  the cruise hostess has no problem with making
    all the arrangement, making phone calls etc. The cost of the flights equaled
    out to the cost of the other premiums and I just about broke even.

    In Antarctica we could not fly out from King George Island
    because of ice on the runway and I missed my flight connection in Punta Arenas
    and all the connecting flights back home. The insurance picked that up.  Probably broke even.

    The main thing is that In these later years of life health
    is always a gamble. I always feel  better
    buying the insurance and glad that I didn’t have to use it. I never feel  like I made a bad deal.

  • joshua82

    “You have a higher chance of making a travel insurance claim than almost any other insurance you buy”? Really? Are life insurance policyholders immortal, and health insurance policyholders immune from disease?

  • andrelot

    You would need to account it for a similar period as that described in the folder (one year). I doubt very much 1/6 of life insurance policy holders die within any single calendar year. 

  • Carchar

    But almost everyone who has health insurance makes at least one claim per year. 

  • gromit82

    Also, it says that 1 in 6 travel insurance policyholders have a claim “at some point,” not in any single year.

  • Jiwan Thakur

    I am still very much confused.It would have been much better if chart also shows number of people claiming insurance and number of them successfully getting it.

  • free classifieds India

    I am still very much confused.It would have been much better if chart
    also shows number of people claiming insurance and number of them
    successfully getting it.

  • Two_Whiskers

    The website you recommend is for US residents only. Although I travel to US monthly, I am not eligible for these plans. I’m sure there are more foreigners reading your blog and I would appreciate to see recommendation of services which suit non-Americans as well.

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