Hurricane Irene's swath through the Caribbean this week probably left many of the no-longer paradise-bound wondering: Should I have taken out travel insurance?

Gabe Saglie, senior editor for the deal publishing site Travelzoo, doesn't often buy travel insurance, but this time of year makes him think twice, he told DailyFinance.

Protection against weather-driven cancellations and delays emerges as a prominent option because it's the peak of hurricane season. Cheap getaway packages in at-risk areas tend to pop up for sale. Tropical resorts want your business during slow periods. But no matter how attractive the discount, keep in mind that a storm could eat up large, nonrefundable portions of your travel budget. It doesn't take a once-in-a-decade event like Irene to destroy your plans and take your money.

"Hopefully you never need it, but travel insurance is a cushion that could offset thousands of dollars [in losses]," Saglie said.

Of the 40 to 50 trips he took in the last year, he estimated that he purchased coverage three or four times -- all for flights from Los Angeles to the East Coast in winter. As soon as spring arrived, insurance was "no longer on my radar," he told DailyFinance.

Travel insurance is basically a bet without a bookie. Companies offer attractive odds so you bite on a policy. For instance, when I punched in hypothetical numbers this week at the aggregator Insuremytrip.com, a New York City couple in their mid to late 40s traveling to Puerto Rico from Sept. 2-9 would have to pay $172 to cover the cost of a $2,000 jet-and-hotel package.

In other words, the company would be paying you better than 10 to 1 in the event you didn't take the trip for reasons specified in your policy. Of course, vendors offer those odds because chances are, your trip won't be cancelled or you won't qualify for compensation for other reasons stated by the carrier.

Saglie traveled to the Caribbean in June, the start of hurricane season. He didn't buy insurance. But if he were planning that same trip for September, he said he would have considered it. A few days after this interview, he was scheduled to go to Maui. Faced with a $150 tab for insurance, he didn't take it because the weather on the island tends to be stable at this time of year. "I took the gamble," he said.

Whether to buy coverage comes down to perceived value. Saglie went with his gut and experience on offering guidelines. Honeymoons or other once-in-a-lifetime voyages that cost, say, $3500 or more, definitely merit coverage. Cruises in which you have to fly to the embarkation port can be insured, especially if the connection window is small and weather might be a factor. (Cruise companies are notorious for their strict refund rules.) Those planning a vacation far in advance ought to consider a policy as well, because a lot can happen in a year.

Among the reputable policy carriers that Saglie recommended were Travel Guard and Access America. But read the fine print, Saglie warned. Carriers get persnickety about weather-related payouts, not to mention policies that also cover terrorism, illness, baggage, and rescue for high-adrenaline vacations such as mountain-climbing.

Whatever the policy, it's a good idea to choose a company that is not related to the airline or trip packager, advised Andrew Young, Travelzoo's website editor. You can also decrease the chances you'll need insurance at this time of year by picking one of the ABC islands -- Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, which tend not to be hit by hurricanes, he said.

Smartmoney.com suggests securing insurance just after booking, with the exception of cruises. And to avoid duplicate coverage, double-check with your credit card company to find out what it already indemnifies.

Then, the decision is yours. Nature will take its course.

Said Young: "It's about weighing your capacity for risk."

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Elsa

While I was looking for a cheap health insurance my friend told me that there are sites, where people can compare prices from many providers.These sites are the only one way to save money on your insurance, because once you register many companies will make you different offers.The site he suggested me was:

---NationalHealthInsurance.info---

I tried them and I saved more than 30%.Try it.Just register and get free quotes!

January 12 2012 at 4:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
JOSEPH

The $278.00 that I paid for TripMate Travel Insurance for the 2 of us saved me $3,000.00 when we had to cancel a trip to Eurpoe due to a Death I The Family.

I sent in the documentation that they requested and got reimbursed the full price of the trip less teh $139.00 per person for the travel insurance. No hassles!

August 28 2011 at 11:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dugandean

Check your health insurance policy before you travel. During a recent trip to Japan, my wife was hospitalized for several days. Our health insurance doesn't cover travel in Japan. Fortunately, because it was such an expensive trip, she bought travel insurance. We had to cough up cash for the medical bills, but we were, eventually, reimbursed.

August 28 2011 at 12:00 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
HitTheDeckBoys

Travel insurance is a awesome feature as long as you don't go with someone YOU met online : )

August 27 2011 at 10:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
luckycur

Worked out for our family on the two trips which required us to file for reimburstment. Our flight leaving Monserrat was canceled, we hired a private plane to take us to Antiqua for our connection, they paid the entire cost. On a trip to Mexico, our son required emergency surgery, again, they covered the cost. No arguement, no hassle on either occasion.

August 27 2011 at 9:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Gary

You all may think travel insurance is great but have you ever tryed to collect??? We purchased insurance from what you call a reputable company Access America on a trip to New Zealand last Feb. An earthquake hit Christ Church and canceled part of our trip. At date Access America hasn't refunded us any monies and puts us off by asking for more infomation as it the Earthqauke didn't happen. We are retired and traveling a great deal and will never waste money on travel insurance from Access America . Instead I should buy stock in the compnay as they never pay out

August 27 2011 at 7:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
fred98115

We agree with the suggestion to buy insurance for the "one-time" travels, for example, cruises. There is a lot that can go right or wrong when planning a year before the trip. Once the committment is made - and that is when you pay the really big bill - make the insurance choice and payment. We consider it a cost of the trip and well worth the peace of mind that comes with it.

August 27 2011 at 2:36 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
txbootz

I am so glad I bought travel insurance for a trip to Ireland. I got really sick, and wound up in an emergency room in Dublin, which included medicine and a follow-up visit when I didn't get better. While I had to front the money, the insurance company paid for all of it. I will never tae a trip out of the U.S. again without travel insurance.

August 26 2011 at 11:54 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Sharon Taylor

American insurance companies, including Medicare, do not cover medical expenses when traveling outside of the US. Buying travel insurance covers medical emergencies in addition to trip cancellation, travel delays and lost baggage.

August 26 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
warriormom122907

I would rather pay the small fee for the insurance and not have to use it than to be out "loads" of money if an unforseen situation occurs. My parents always said "better to be safe than sorry". I value those words of wisdom.

August 26 2011 at 2:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply