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Travel insurance 101: Everything you need to know

two boys piloting a suitcase

Travel troubles differ in every way except one: nobody wants them. No two trips are exactly alike, and a one-size-fits-all travel insurance plan isn’t always your best option. Just like with an extended warranty plan for a product, it’s critical for your peace of mind, and your bank account, to find a travel insurance plan that allows you to choose only the coverage you need. This makes travel insurance both affordable and sensible.

For your favorite travel products and practically everything else in your life, you want to make sure they're protected just like your trip. When you subscribe to Mulberry Unlimited, you'll get coverage for nearly all your online purchases under the same product protection plan, so that even if your trip goes wrong, your products will stay in tip-top shape.

Protect unlimited online purchases for $9.99/month

What is travel insurance?

If you aren't familiar with travel insurance, this guide provides real-life situations to help you understand what each type of coverage means, if you need it for your trip, and how it will benefit you should the inevitable trip debacle happen. What does travel insurance cover? Should you always go with the cheapest travel insurance plan? Read on to discover the main types of travel insurance options available and determine if travel insurance is worth it for your trip.

Trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage

These are two of the most common types of travel insurance coverage. Trip cancellation will cover non-refundable or prepaid deposits for cancellations and trip interruption insurance will cove issues due to sudden illness or accidents that happen either before or during your trip.

“I was on a trip with my husband, and midway through I came down with the flu, so we went home earlier than planned. Because we had to suddenly cut our trip short, we lost all of the money we'd paid for the hotel and activities at our final destination." - Cassie K.

Good for: Travelers who book activities with hefty deposits, longer-term stays, and prepaid accommodations in multiple destinations.

Skip it: Travelers using frequent flier miles, or staying with family/friends.

Trip delay insurance

Trip delay insurance covers unexpected hotel room costs, transportation costs, and meals as a result of the travel delay. Unexpected travel delays are all too common, so being able to affordably add this coverage to your trip could really be worthwhile.

“We were on vacation in Europe, and after three days in Lisbon, Portugal, we headed to the airport to catch an evening flight to our next city—only to find out it was delayed due to a staffing shortage. Since we wouldn’t be able to fly out until the following day, we had to book a last-minute room at a hotel near the airport and spend the next day traveling instead of sightseeing.” - Jon S.

Good for: People who like to sleep in beds and anyone traveling during a staffing shortage.

Skip it: Budget travelers with flexible schedules and the yoga skills necessary for sleeping in airport chairs.

Cancel for any reason coverage

Travel insurance cancel for any reason coverage is typically an add-on for your trip insurance, providing the best flexibility.

“I had a safari package booked, which we kept postponing due to the pandemic. The company kindly extended how long our trip credit was valid for, but once I got pregnant, we decided to cancel the trip altogether. We lost our deposit.” - Natalia G.

Good for: Dream vacations, high-dollar deposits, long trips booked over 6 months in advance, anyone who reserves the right to change their mind.

Skip it: Quick trips with inexpensive or free accommodations.

Baggage insurance

Who hasn’t had their luggage get lost, items damaged in transit, sent to the wrong destination, or it arrived days after you did? Baggage insurance coverage allows you to get reimbursed for lost, damaged, or delayed luggage.

“I was flying from Los Angeles to Syracuse, New York. When I got off the plane and went to the baggage carousel, I realized that my bags didn’t make it on the flight, and the airline was unable to locate them. Since I didn’t have anything to wear, my first stop was the mall for a change of clothes to replace the delayed items.” - Kristen P.

Good for: Fashionistas and travelers with multiple checked bags or sports equipment.

Skip it: People who don’t care about their belongings.

Rental car damage insurance

Cover your bumper when you’re traveling in unfamiliar areas, parking in tight quarters, or renting a vehicle you’re not used to driving. Driving a different vehicle can be stressful enough, let alone worrying about damage out of your control.

“I’m used to driving a sedan, but my rental got upgraded to an SUV during a work trip. I wasn’t used to being so high off the ground. Not seeing the concrete barrier in front of me, I destroyed the front bumper on my first parking attempt. I had opted out of insurance because I assumed my corporate card would include it. It did not.” - Elyssa S.

Good for: People driving in foreign countries, on the other side of the road, or in unfamiliar areas.

Skip it: Those who leave the driving to someone else.

Vacation rental damage insurance

Most people are diligent about taking care of rental properties, but sometimes you can’t prevent those “uh oh” moments. You’re on vacation too, so protect yourself from having to helicopter over your friends if the rental booking is in your name.

“I was staying in a townhouse in Santa Cruz, California. As I set my bag on the table, a vase that was sitting there fell over and rolled onto the floor, breaking on impact. It was a total accident, but the vase was beyond repair.” - Mike B.

Good for: Families (especially with children), large groups, and the accident-prone.

Skip it: People roughing it in the woods, hostelers, and couch-surfers.

Travel medical insurance

Protect yourself (and your wallet) with travel medical insurance to avoid unaffordable medical bills.

“I was visiting friends in Ecuador, and we went on a bike ride along an unpaved trail with rocky terrain. I took a turn too fast and fell, landing directly on my left arm. It broke in multiple spots, requiring surgery. Because I was in a remote location, I needed to be transported to the nearest hospital for an overnight stay.” - Greg M.

Good for: All domestic and international travelers and adventurers.

Skip it: Hefty medical bills don’t phase you.

Pet medical insurance

Just like you, your pets may need medical care while you’re traveling. Ensure you can take care of your pet’s medical needs and get reimbursed for emergency pet care, whether traveling domestically or abroad.

“My partner and I took advantage of remote work and rented an apartment in London for a month. While we were unpacking, our dog helped herself to some chocolate that was left out as a welcome gift. One emergency vet visit later, she ended up being fine, but it made for a stressful (and expensive) first few days.” - Avery D.

Good for: Owners without pet insurance, pets outside of a domestic coverage area, all pets traveling internationally.

Skip it: Pets within a domestic pet medical insurance coverage area.

How much is travel insurance?

If you do your research, you can find affordable travel insurance that provides the coverage you need for peace of mind. Check out this custom travel protection that starts at only $20. Don’t pay for expensive, one-size-fits-all trip insurance. Customize a coverage plan that makes sense for you.

And as always, don't forget to subscribe to Mulberry Unlimited so you can get product protection for all your online purchases under the same plan, and be prepared no matter what.

Availability of coverage depends on the details of each case and the terms, conditions, and exclusions of each individual policy.

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Kim Miller

About the author

Kim Miller is the Head of Marketing at Mulberry. She is passionate about building products and brands that make consumers happy, save them money and make their lives easier. Have an innovative idea for Mulberry you'd like to share? Give her a shout! She'd love to chat about anything from fintech and UX to gardening and antiquing.

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