A Guide to Road Trip Insurance (Do You Even Need It?)

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Family happily having a road trip

Nearly four in 10 U.S. adults planned a family vacation in 2019, according to AAA. Many of the trips involved hitting the road. Do road trips mean you need to consider a new car insurance policy? Do you need road trip insurance to protect yourself and your loved ones?

In this guide, we’ll answer questions on road trip insurance, like how it works, what it covers, and how much it costs.

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What Is Road Trip Insurance?

Road trip insurance is a policy that protects against unexpected costs thanks to trip interruptions or cancellations.

The policies offer one or more of the following coverages: trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical coverage, emergency medical evacuation, and accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D).

How Does Road Trip Insurance Work?

Road trip insurance is pretty easy to understand; just consider this example:

Pretend you are taking a road trip from Las Vegas to Los Angeles with purchased tickets to Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood. Unfortunately, a rare tornado has devastated Interstate 15, resulting in a non-reimbursable missed hotel and theme park stay.

With road trip insurance coverage, travel cancellation provisions reimburse policyholders for these expenses, even deposits.

What Does Road Trip Insurance Cover?

Road trip insurance: happy family in their car

Road trip insurance covers one or more of the following:

  • Trip Cancellation: If a trip is canceled due to unexpected illness, injury, death of non-traveling family members, unexpected natural disasters, court dates, or similar events, expect your road trip insurance policy to reimburse all pre-paid travel expenses.
  • Trip Interruption: Unlike trip cancellation, trip interruption covers the costs of covered events causing your trip to end prematurely, like “unused” travel tickets and hotel reservations. Unfortunately, many insurers typically nullify trip interruption benefits if a pre-existing medical condition causes illness or injury. However, insurers can waive this exclusion if you purchase road trip insurance within a set period after paying an initial trip deposit.
  • Baggage Loss: You can receive reimbursement for the loss of baggage up to a covered amount.
  • Emergency Medical Services: This covers medical expenses, e.g., air evacuations to the nearest clinic or hospital, which may or may not be covered in-network through health insurance.
  • Rental Car Damage and Theft Coverage: Get reimbursement of damaged or stolen rental vehicles up to a covered amount. This covered amount may exceed your rental car company’s covered benefit.
  • Concierge Services: Many road trip insurers package their cancellation/interruption benefits with assistance and concierge services that help travelers with rebooking, roadside assistance, lodging search, and similar services. This is a good deal for the stranded traveler who may be at their wit’s end to think of a good next step.

Other road trip insurance options include rental collisions, emergency medical/dental coverage, and luggage replacement. There may even be provisions for COVID-19 in case you contracted the virus and need a fee-free cancellation.

How Much Reimbursement Can I Expect With a Road Trip Insurance Policy?

Using Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection’s road trip travel insurance policy as a guideline, here is an example of coverage limits:

  • Trip Cancellation: 100% of trip cost (up to $500 per person)
  • Trip Interruption: Up to 150% of trip cost (up to $750 per person)
  • Emergency Medical Insurance: Up to $10,000 ($500 dental max)
  • Emergency Evaluation/Repatriation of Remains: Up to $100,000
  • Accident Death and Dismemberment: Up to $10,000

Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection also includes pre-existing condition waivers if you purchase your policy within 15 days of making your first deposit.

Does Road Trip Insurance Require Paying a Deductible?

In short, it depends on the insurance company. Some plans have deductible options. For example, many emergency medical coverage provisions require a $250 deductible before insurance covers the rest.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Road Trip Insurance?

Woman behind the steering wheel, giving the thumbs-up

Pros

Reimbursement for Trouble. Expect a check for unused or non-refundable trip expenses up to the covered amounts on your policy. It encompasses all tickets, including airfare, hotel, walking tours, and other paid scheduled events.

Ability to Upgrade. Select insurers allow policyholders to add “cancel for any reason” (CFAR) coverage, which reimburses for the cost of your trip before you go for almost any reason. Just expect to recoup only some of your money, as reimbursement is up to a set percentage and rarely 100%.

Extras. Road trip insurers are known for providing bonuses beyond trip cancellation and interruption coverage, such as “24/7” concierge services handling all kinds of travel-related issues, from helping you track down an auto body shop to sending a tow truck over.

Cons

Exclusions. Road trip insurance is typically subject to various exclusions, such as anticipated and named weather events, pandemics, pre-existing illness, or changing your mind about a trip. In addition, insurers may not cover higher-end sedans, trucks, and RVs.

Fine Print. Be sure to read the fine print on your road trip insurance policy. For starters, not all delayed flights are covered, with trip cancellation claims only paid out if you lose less than a specified percentage of your scheduled trip length. So, for example, trip cancellation claims made two days into a 10-day scheduled trip may not be honored.

Do not forget to review the exact coverage as well. For example, many road trip insurance providers offer emergency medical benefits up to $10,000, of which there is only a $500 max on dental work. Although you should not expect to require extensive dental work during your average trip, it’s good to know, nevertheless.

Medical Insurance. Medical and evacuation/repatriation coverage usually comes with several stipulations with provisions for pre-existing medical conditions or participating in dangerous activities such as bungee jumping and race car driving.

For greater peace of mind while traveling, ask your insurance company for all coverage limitations or exclusions on your policy before starting your trip.

Can I Cancel Road Trip Insurance at Any Time?

Policyholders can cancel most road trip insurance policies as long as it’s done within a specified period. This period starts from the moment of purchase up to a time mandated by your road trip insurance provider. For example, Nationwide provides a full refund within 10-15 days of purchasing your policy, well before the start of any trip.

Remember that most insurers will ask that you purchase your policy up to 30 days before the trip starts. So read your road trip insurance provider’s fine print before committing.

Shop Around for the Best Car Insurance Rates

Understanding all the different scenarios where road trip insurance does and does not cover you will make you a more informed consumer.

Are you looking for affordable auto insurance or a standalone road trip insurance policy? Let Compare.com help. It only takes a few minutes to view real-time insurance quotes from dozens of top-rated companies, including AAA, Metromile, Nationwide, 21st Century, and Liberty Mutual.

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