Many people consider extra travel protection unnecessary. In fact, only one in three Americans tends to buy it. There are circumstances where it may be useless or redundant, but when you need it, travel protection could be life-changing. Googling "travel protection" is a confusing wormhole, so let's work out the basics.

What Is Travel Protection?

Image via Flickr by andrew prickett

Image via Flickr by andrew prickett

Travel protection usually covers anywhere from one to five of the following areas:

● Trip cancellation coverage

● Medical emergencies abroad

● Emergency evacuations

● Travel interruptions, including lost bags and delayed flights

● 24/7 emergency phone assistance 

Different companies offer any combination of these services at a variety of different rates, though a rule of thumb is that the cost will be somewhere between 5 to 10 percent of your trip. Depending on the type of protection you need, you can buy direct from a company like MedjetAssist, through your travel provider, or through your travel agent.

Insuremytrip.com and Travel Insurance Review are two decent sites to check if you're getting an acceptable rate. It's also important to know that pre-existing conditions don't usually affect the cost of the plan, but age can be a factor. The older you are, the more expensive the plan will probably be.

When Do I Need Travel Protection?

If you're going overseas on a complicated trip, if you're traveling somewhere remote or dangerous, or if you're spending a lot of money, it's a good idea to get travel protection. Just ask Dave of The PlanetD. He broke his back in Peru, and the whole ordeal would've cost thousands and thousands of dollars had he not been protected. It's also a good idea to get travel protection if you just want to be careful. Any number of things can go wrong when you travel, and it's nice to erase that worry.

If you're an American, odds are that your health insurance doesn't cover issues abroad. If you're on Medicare, it almost certainly doesn't cover issues abroad. Still, it's best to know the ins and outs of the insurance you do have, just so you're not spending more than necessary.

What Are My Options?

Every trip has different needs, and each person is comfortable with different levels of travel protection. Do you travel often? Do you participate in adventure sports or go to less-developed areas, where your risk of getting hurt is greater? What's your current insurance like? Do you have any credit cards or memberships, like AAA or the American Express Platinum card, which could help defer the cost? These are all things to consider before you make the travel protection leap.

If and when you do go to purchase, research exactly what's covered in each plan. You might run into some surprises. For example, medical-based coverage does not include transportation to your preferred hospital. The cost of getting home from abroad would then be out of pocket unless you were a member of MedjetAssist, which arranges transportation and covers your expenses. Imagine if you didn't have it and couldn't get home.

All in all, having some type of travel protection is always a good idea. You never know what might go wrong, and vacations are about fun, not worry. Research your options and find out what works best for you. You'll probably be glad you did.

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