Please sign in to post.

Refundable fares or travel insurance?

The two hotels and the airline are offering 'non-refundable' fares that are considerably cheaper than refundable ones. The savings is so great that I'd save money buying separate insurance and using the non-refundable fares. Does this make sense? I'm just worried I'm missing some crucial detail. The insurance is $600 but the difference in fares is about $3,000.

Posted by
6446 posts

$600 for travel insurance sounds like a rip off.
Not unless it is for 4 people and covers evacuation costs $50,000

Most buy non-refundable and the insurance offered with the plane ticket.

Posted by
2553 posts

$600 for cancellation insurance only on the plane fare and hotels looks awfully high to me. I'd look at a broker such as insuremytrip for travel policies that you can tailor to your needs. But with any cancellation policies, you have to look carefully at what is excluded. Even "cancel for no reason" policies come with exclusions and limitations.

Or is this a comprehensive travel policy covering everyone in your party for cancellation, interruption, medical, and evacuation? Where are you getting this insurance from and what is its coverage?

Posted by
5558 posts

A non-refundable air fare doesn't necessarily mean that you cant reschedule the air travel. I would likely involve a re-booking fee and the re-booking fee would be substantially less then $3000. And check the conditions on trip cancellation.

Posted by
5945 posts

We always cover the airline change fees not the whole cost of the flights.
We get medical evacuation insurance plus medical coverage. Do not actually cover whole trips unless it is a cruise or a tour.

Posted by
5558 posts

RE: We always cover the airline change fees not the whole cost of the flights.

Take care to read the Terms and Conditions of any insurance carefully. Cancel For Any Reason (CFAR) policies have some very specific requirements.

https://www.insuremytrip.com/travel-insurance-plans-coverages/cancel-for-any-reason/

Eligibility Requirements

Typically, a policy must be purchased within 10-21 days of making
the initial trip payment
to be eligible for CFAR benefits. Often,
providers will require CFAR purchasers to insure the entire dollar
amount of their travels
in order to receive the coverage. Additional
requirements may be stated by the providers for those interested in
buying a CFAR policy. Be sure to thoroughly read and understand any
and all terms before you make your purchase.

Posted by
5945 posts

We have had several very large claims paid in full. We read the fine print and always buy insurance from Travel Guard as soon as we book our trips.

Posted by
3000 posts

You might want to consider looking at your credit cards to see if you already have some sort of trip cancellation/trip interruption coverage from your credit card. I have excellent coverage through Chase so I don't buy extra travel insurance anymore. You won't know unless you do a little research.

Posted by
7191 posts

Why not just decide “I’m going, no matter what”

What on earth could possibly cause you to not take your international flight? Sick? Who cares! Get in the plane and go. Unless you’re in a coma there’s really no reason.

Posted by
2553 posts

Why not just decide “I’m going, no matter what”

What on earth could possibly cause you to not take your international
flight? Sick? Who cares! Get in the plane and go. Unless you’re in a
coma there’s really no reason

Personal illness isn't the only reason a trip might be cancelled or postponed. What about death of a loved one. Catastrophic illness of a family member. Job loss, (or less serious, the boss cancels your leave). The house burns down.

Posted by
12139 posts

When I buy the flight going over, I always buy the non-refundable fare in Basic Economy and no trip insurance. One time in the last ten years I gave in and bought trip insurance at the airport, SFO. Likewise in booking the hotel in a 3 star, , the non-refundable rate for a single.

Posted by
11711 posts

If that trip insurance is “cancel for any reason” (like, I just changed my mind, or whatever), that $600 may not be so unreasonable. But that is not a wise purchase. Cancellation coverage should cover unforeseen circumstances that arise, generally a serious illness by you, a traveling companion, or a non-traveling family member (in which case it usually has to be a very serious, life-threatening condition).

As for saying one is going to fly no matter what or how sick, that is unwise and not allowed if the airline suspects the illness. You can be denied boarding if they think you are too ill to fly. And if they don’t notice and you fly with a contagious illness like influenza, that is not only foolhardy but very inconsiderate.

Or you could be faced with a cancer diagnosis between booking the flights and the date of the trip, like I was. The departure date fell right near the end of my radiation treatment which lasted six weeks. I was young and healthy when I booked the trip, and never considered travel insurance. Fortunately, SAS let me postpone my departure by two weeks and re-book the return flight, without penalty. But that was 20 years ago, and such mercy appears to be very scarce these days.

If you have a significant amount of money invested in non-refundable expenses, more than you can afford to lose, or even more than you feel comfortable losing, the prudent thing is to cover them with a reasonable cancellation policy. But not a “cancel for any reason” one, which extracts a heavy premium for the right to change your mind.

Posted by
2905 posts

I used to think, like Tim, that there was no reason I could imagine that we wouldn’t take our trips, so I booked a non-refundable rate at a Madrid hotel. Silly me. We were to fly to Spain after attending a wedding in Baltimore. When we got to Dulles Airport, we discovered my husband had forgotten his passport. We had to wait until our son-in-law flew back to SFO, went to our house, found the passport, and fedexed it. There went the three Madrid days.
Recently, my neighbor had a loss with the United basic economy fare. She bought a ticket to go on a trip to be taken after a visit from her sister. Seems they got their lines crossed, and the sister bought a ticket to come at the time she’d be away. United doesn’t even allow rescheduling in that fare class.
My point is that neither of these reasons could possibly be anticipated. Nor, could either of us “just go.” $600 for insurance does seem high to me. The suggestion to check what’s covered by your cc is a good one. Then, I would be looking at squaremouth or insuremytrip.

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all for your replies.

The premium is high but the difference in fares is higher. Then again, insurance only pays under certain conditions, whereas the refundable fares are refunded on a whim. Looks like there's no saving the risk premium anywhere - the system has it all figured out.

I usually decline insurance unless it's a catastrophic risk. While this is a big expense for us I may just decide to take the risk myself.

I love vacation planning. (Seriously, I totally do.)

Posted by
2852 posts

Why not just decide “I’m going, no matter what”

That's my attitude. Nonrefundable fares and no insurance. And if something disastrous or totally unforeseen causes a disruption, that's life. It's never happened in 30+ years of travel, so if it does in the future, I'm still probably way ahead of the game after saving on trip insurance for all those years.

Posted by
20740 posts

....$600 for travel insurance sounds like a rip off...... First, without knowing the amount insurance no way of knowing if $600 is cheaper, so-so, or expensive. Remember, you only insure your potential loses. And often the insurance company via the fine print will have a different idea of what is a lose compared to what you think is a lose. Since travel insurance premium tend to run around 5 to maybe 10% depending on what is covered, your $600 should suggest an insurance amount of about $12,000 to perhaps $20,000. Could be reasonable depending on your trip.

Posted by
5558 posts

Adding to Frank's comment, $600 may be reasonable for older policy holders if it covers both cancellation and medical coverage and pre-existing conditions. An old retired policy holder would be less likely to cancel because of job loss but more likely to cancel because of personal health or spouse's health.

Posted by
5401 posts

As noted above, some credit cards (I have Chase Sapphire Reserve) include some trip cancelation / interruption insurance for no additional cost. Booking many months ahead I usually get cancellable hotel reservations (about €5 per night additional) -- closer to the trip date, if nonrefundable is still available at a better price I may book that and cancel the original reservation.

Posted by
2905 posts

One more point to add. Having used the two sites I recommended above, I am always astounded at the spread of prices for the same coverage and from similarly rated companies, like $300/2 of us up to $1000/ 2 of us. It pays to compare, and either of the two sites will allow you to do that.

Posted by
397 posts

If it covers medical then your destination and your age REALLY effect the cost, I have paid in that range for each of my last two trips but they covered two people and about 18 days each plus medical and evacuation and repatriation and one of us was in his 80s.

So without more info would be needed to see if it is a good deal. But for a savings of $2400 on tickets alone I would sure go with separate insurance

Posted by
4710 posts

Although you said "separate insurance", there is some evidence you may mean the airline's insurance they offer just before you pay the bill. But the key fact is that EVERY insurance policy has different rules. You cannot assume that one policy or another covers YOUR needs until you skim 20 to 30 pages of rules and conditions. That's one reason I usually buy the same type of insurance.

Example of rules: My mother is 93. I once called my regular insurer, Travelex, to ask about "pre-exisiting conditions" that would fail to be covered in the event of cancellations, if you don't buy the insurance soon enough. Although the insurance covers medical conditions that require a doctor's care (not as in in some other products, hospitalization!) I was concerned about my mother's frail state. Travelex told me, to my surprise, that "pre-existing conditions" in THEIR policy only refers to the TRAVELERS. It doesn't matter how long my mother has had this or that illness!

You can't know if you don't read the policy.

Posted by
160 posts

In a similar situation with my mother. I had to cancel a trip to Italy in May. I was in Boston within 5 hours of departing a TAP flight to Rome when I got a call that my stepdad had died. ( He was a mean man but that's another story!) So obviously cancelled my trip to go and take care of my 87 year old mom in her transition.
My strategy was to pay for a executive class fully refundable fare on TAP (Portuguese Airlines) . TAP allows you to to purchase a one way fare which is exactly half of a round trip fare unlike other airlines. My return was on United Airlines using my miles. I talked to United re the death and they waived the fee to put my miles back in my account. I received the full fare from TAP refund back to my credit card in 2 weeks and my United airlines miles were back in 24 hours with no charge.
I'm using the same strategy for a trip to Italy in May 2020.
I have bought insurance in the past but there were so many exclusions I decided it wasn't worth it.
Not directly related to this thread but the only kind of travel insurance I have a is a medical travel policy which also provides for emergency air transport among other personal medical issues.