Popularity of travel insurance surges as the travel industry struggles

(NBC) We’ve all heard travel horror stories this summer and it has many folks asking what we can do to avoid them. For starters, more people than ever are booking travel insurance.

While travel may be roaring back, there are still plenty of canceled flights, missed connections, lost luggage and a host of other travel uncertainties.

And as more people are hitting the skies, travel insurance sales are skyrocketing.

Squaremouth, a website that helps travelers compare insurance prices, said policy sales are up 180% in June from the previous year and claims are up 235%.

Squaremouth Chief Marketing Officer Megan Moncrief said, “The COVID-19 pandemic changed just about everything about the travel insurance industry. Essentially, anybody who’s traveling has been more inclined to purchase travel insurance.”

That means insurance companies have made some changes too, expanding their coverage to accommodate illness and additional flight cancellations and allowing a longer window to rebook. All of these things are crucial to getting people back in the air.

Paula Twidale with AAA said, “The travel insurance that has pandemic coverage in it is really a boost and we’re certainly seeing a lift from that.”

But higher demand coupled with a summer of flight delays, cancellations, and rising COVID cases, left some travel insurance companies struggling to handle an influx of claims.

Still it’s not a complete guarantee. Avid traveler Laura Bedell thought her policy would offer protection after a canceled flight meant she spent thousands to rebook. Instead, she got a rude awakening when her claim was denied.

“I got, a like, a rejection letter saying that because the airline had canceled the flight, not me, then it didn’t qualify for any kind of reimbursement,” Bedell said. “I definitely learned this experience you know, to read all of the fine print before you put any money into something.”

Experts say it’s worth the relatively small fee to protect your travel investment but there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be clear on what your policy entails and what situations are covered.
  • Check with your credit card company first to see if they offer insurance.
  • Consider using a travel agent to help you navigate the process if something does go wrong.
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