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The Brown & Crouppen Legal Lens takes a closer look at everyday legal issues and gives you a better understanding of topics that may affect you.

ST. LOUIS — Traveling by air these days has become a “fly at your own risk” situation with all the delays and cancellations. In this week’s Legal Lens, Andrea McNairy, managing attorney at Brown & Crouppen, explains why travel insurance is so important.

What is travel insurance, and how does it work?

“A lot of people think of travel insurance as a rip-off, but it’s like any other insurance coverage,” said McNairy. “You don’t use it until you need it. So in reality, you purchase it hoping you won’t use it. But you may have to. It can cover different types of things depending on what you purchase. Trip cancellation and trip interruption insurance is if your trip is canceled or delayed because of a natural disaster or illness. You would get reimbursed for what you paid for the trip. There’s emergency medical insurance that covers medical costs in case you’re injured or fall on vacation. [There’s] accidental death or dismemberment insurance, which is more like a life insurance policy. Then, there’s baggage and personal item coverage if your property is stolen or your luggage lost. Travel insurance would cover the loss of those items.”

Is it worth it?

“It really depends on what you are doing,” McNairy said. “I always tell people to factor in a couple of different things. One, if you are just going for a weekend trip, local, that’s a smaller investment than if you are going on a month trip to China. If you’re bringing a lot of electronics and expensive items and jewelry with you that would cost thousands to replace, then that could be a factor. Then, you want to consider your personal circumstances as well. If you know you’re caring for a family member who is sick, and there’s a likelihood you have to cancel, you want to factor all those things in and decide if it’s worth it to you.”

Is there anything to know about reading the fine print?

“This is no exception. Again, you want to make sure you’re purchasing what it is you think you’re purchasing and that it’s actually covered,” McNairy said. “It is typical that most [travel] insurance policies do not cover pandemic or disease. So, again, if you are purchasing it because you’re worried about COVID, you want to make sure it would actually be covered and that you read the fine print and make sure you get what you are paying for.”