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Travel abroad? You could face this additional expense

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Be sure to factor it into your budget.

Key points

  • Several countries require travelers to purchase travel insurance.
  • Although Americans are exempt in some cases, you may need a policy for your next trip.

Traveling during the pandemic has not been easy. That’s because many countries have specific requirements when it comes to vaccinations and negative tests for COVID-19. But now, you may face a new requirement when traveling abroad: travel insurance.

Will you need travel insurance for your next adventure?

Many counties required travelers to purchase insurance even before the pandemic. But about a dozen more have added that requirement since the health crisis hit. These include Argentina, Aruba, Bahamas, Bermuda, Bolivia, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Chile, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Jordan, and Lebanon.

In some cases, US travelers are exempt from this rule. But that is not always the case. In Costa Rica, you will need travel insurance if you are an unvaccinated US tourist. In Belize, the same is true, although you can buy coverage once you get there.

Why the change?

Travel insurance often covers the cost of medical care for people who get sick while traveling. And in a world of COVID-19, that’s a big deal. A big reason more countries have imposed a travel insurance requirement is that they don’t want to have to foot the bill for COVID-19 treatment of tourists. They are demanding travel insurance to ease their own burden.

You should buy travel insurance anyway.

While travel insurance may seem like yet another expense you’ll need to budget for, the reality is that it’s important to have, especially when traveling abroad. COVID-19 aside, you never know when you might get injured or sick in another country and need extensive care in a place where your US health insurance won’t kick in. Having travel insurance could make the difference between facing bills or not.

It’s also a good idea to purchase travel insurance in case your plans change or your comfort level changes. Many travel insurance policies allow you to cancel your itinerary for any reason. If there is a local outbreak of COVID-19 at your destination, your airline may not reimburse your flight, but you may be able to get most of your money back with travel insurance.

One thing to know is that some credit cards offer certain protections for travelers, so it’s worth looking at what coverage yours provides. But typically, that coverage will be limited, so it’s often worth buying travel insurance even if you have a credit card with a decent amount of protections.

Your credit card, for example, could reimburse you for lost luggage or pay the bill for a flight change if your original flight is seriously delayed. But your card may not cover you if you decide to cancel your trip at the last minute.

know the rules

Travel rules are constantly changing during the pandemic. If you’re booking overseas travel, read the rules before you confirm your flights, and then monitor for changes between the date you book your plans and your actual travel date. The last thing you want is to be caught off guard by a new rule you didn’t know about.

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