A reader emailed me recently with the following question: "I’m taking my first overseas vacation in a couple of weeks. Should I purchase travel insurance?" It's a question I hear often from travelers, so I thought it would be helpful to share the conversation.

To get an answer from someone who knows travel insurance well, I reached out to John W. Cook an industry expert at QuoteWright.com, a travel insurance comparison website. 

Here's what he recommends:

"Depending on your level of financial risk tolerance and your destination, travel insurance isn't for everyone. Instead, insurance has always been about sharing your risk of financial loss with others who share the same risk.

An in-country trip to New Orleans, for example, varies greatly from a European trip. Distance, one’s current medical coverage, the trip cost and the costs associated with return transportation for non-emergency or emergency returns are all part of the equation when asking the question “do I really need travel insurance?”

Consider the vast difference between a $500 expenditure for a week in Florida, for example, versus a $7,000 European cruise. In truth, the domestic trip involves a $500 loss if your trip is canceled.  And one’s personal health insurance will most likely cover medical emergencies, despite the fact that the traveler is out of network.

However, the difference in loss becomes major if you're uninsured and must cancel a $7,000 out-of-country trip, or you experience a medical emergency, particularly if your primary medical coverage is restricted to Medicare. Without travel insurance, your losses could be astronomical.

So the question of whether travel insurance is a worthwhile investment can best be answered in either of two ways: (1) by talking to those who've taken the precautions of insuring their trips, and (2) by speaking with a travel professional before deciding."

If you still have questions, you can contact John directly via email or telephone 800.821.4940 ext 2200.

What about you? Do you have experiences in traveling with or without travel insurance that would be helpful? 



Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog YourLifeIsATrip.com and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".