Travel insurance can make sense

Holiday travel can be rife with mishaps.

Two years ago, for example, a storm that struck the Northeast the day before Thanksgiving caused more than 700 flight cancellations and thousands of flight delays.

Airlines have to rebook you when a flight is canceled but they don’t necessarily have to cover other expenses, such as a hotel stay or food. For those and other unexpected costs, you may want to consider buying travel insurance. Here’s what to do:

Check your credit card. Many credit cards offer some kind of protection if your travel plans get upended.

Sixty-three percent reimburse you if your bag is lost or delayed, according to CardHub, a credit card search engine. And in some cases, you may be covered for as much as $5,000 in nonrefundable travel expenses if your trip is canceled or interrupted, or as much as $500 if you’re delayed more than six hours.

So before you book, check what travel protections your card offers (you’ll find most policies online).

The card’s coverage applies not only to you, but also to a spouse or domestic partner, and children. But to make a claim all of your travel has to be booked on the card.

Shop around. If your credit card is lacking in travel benefits, it may be worth buying a travel insurance policy, especially if you’re splurging on a pricey getaway, heading overseas or worried that an illness will cause you to cancel your trip.

Skip the policies sold by airlines or travel-booking websites.

“There are usually too many exclusions, and pre-existing medical conditions are not covered,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog, a website that tracks fare deals and airline trends.

Instead, search for policies on sites like, which allows you to compare hundreds of policies. Costs will range from 4 percent to 8 percent of the total amount of your nonrefundable travel expenses and “are based on the length of the trip, destination and age of the policyholder,” said Carol Walsh, executive director of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association.

What if you have a tight connection, or you’re worried that bad weather could interrupt your air travel?

Hobica recommends AirCare, a policy offered by Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Your flights are tracked in real time, and if your flight is canceled or you miss a connection, the service automatically helps rebook you on another flight.

It also deposits cash into your bank account. For example, if your flight is delayed two hours or longer, you receive $50. If you miss a connection, you get $100. And if your bag is delayed more than 12 hours during your trip, you’re paid $500.

Said Hobica, “It covers a lot of annoyances that no one else covers.”