New York (CNNfn) - If you've spent months planning and saving for that family trip to Asia or that cruise in Alaska, the last thing you want is to have to cancel your trip or cut it short. But unforeseen events, such as a child's sudden illness, an injury or a death in the family, can wreak havoc on even the best-laid travel plans.
Oftentimes, such tragedies force vacationers to forfeit all of the money they have spent on airline and hotel reservations. You can avoid this risk, though, by purchasing travel insurance.
While it's not a good investment for individuals or families planning a minor beach trip, travel insurance can offer peace of mind to people planning to spend thousands of dollars on their next vacation, says Linda Singer, president of Singer Travel. (205K WAV) or (205K AIF)
Older travelers with health concerns and those planning active trips where injury is possible should also consider getting coverage.
Travel insurance can cover trip cancellation, emergency medical assistance, baggage loss and accidental death. That can get pricey, though. Fortunately, you can purchase each of these options separately.
Complete insurance on a $10,000 trip, for example, would cost between $500 and $800. But Jeanne Salvatore of the Insurance Information Institute says it's smart to check the coverages you already have before buying additional insurance. (129K WAV) or (129K AIFF)
Most homeowner policies pay for lost baggage, while some credit cards offer travelers assistance and overseas doctor referrals.
Many airlines and tour operators offer some form of trip cancellation insurance, which is less costly, but often more limited, than travel insurance.
Unfortunately, few plans cover last-minute cancellations due to business. You'll have to bargain with your employer to pick up that tab.