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Traveling During Flu Season? Buying This Could Actually Save You Money

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Stressed woman in the airport.
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Picture this: Grandma’s 100th birthday is coming up, and the whole family is getting together to celebrate. You spend weeks scouting for the lowest flight prices, plunk down a few hundred dollars for tickets for you and the kids and get right down to packing.

The night before take off, you’ve double checked the bags, made sure to pack enough snacks and toys to keep your kids from ruining six hours of the guy in 25B’s life and fielded the fifteenth phone call from Aunt Donna, assuring her that yes, you’re going to be there — you wouldn’t miss it for the world.

And that’s when you can’t ignore it any more.

That little tickle in the back of your throat. The achy feeling creeping into every limb. The headache you’ve been ignoring all day, hoping it would disappear if you pretended hard enough it wasn’t real.

A quick trip to the walk-in clinic confirms the flu.

You get the medicine, but there’s no way you’re getting on that flight tomorrow (and we all thank you).

At this point you’re pretty devastated. I mean, it’s bad enough you’re missing Grandma’s birthday and the ensuing family reunion (not to mention you’ve got a rough few days ahead of you) — but the moldy cherry on top of this already pretty nasty ice cream sundae is you’re taking a loss on the price of those plane tickets.

Ouch.

Why Travel Insurance Might Be a Good Idea this Flu Season

A lot of factors go into deciding whether to purchase travel insurance when you book a flight.

How pricy are the tickets? Are you traveling with someone? (More people means a higher chance of something going wrong before your flight.) Are there multiple flights? Are you traveling during a season of inclement weather? Are your planned activities or destinations anything less than safe?

Generally, these considerations (and ultimately travel insurance) are important for people traveling abroad and doing things outside of their norm.

For domestic travel and shorter flights, it’s not often a necessary — or even recommended — expense.  

But flu season is a different beast entirely.

Something to Consider

This year’s flu season is pretty bad.

While it’s not necessarily any more dangerous than in years past, it is more widespread. Plus, the flu vaccine is reportedly less effective this year (although it’s still worth getting!)

Heavily populated or crowded areas, such as cities and busy metro areas, are especially susceptible to the spreading virus — and travel hubs only serve as a convenient place for it to hitch a ride to a new destination.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that if you “are sick with symptoms of influenza-like illness,” you should stay home and not travel. Additionally, the CDC says to stay home until at least 24 hours have passed since your last fever broke without the use of fever reducing medicine.

To help you decide whether or not you should purchase travel insurance with your flight tickets this flu season, Squaremouth, a travel insurance comparison engine, has made a list of considerations travelers should take into account.

First, though, it’s important to note that travel insurance purchased after a person is already sick is useless. You have to have a policy in place before getting sick in order to be paid back your travel expenses.

With most travel insurance plans, however, travelers who come down with the flu after booking their flight and purchasing travel insurance can get their money back for canceled travel plans by submitting a doctor’s note with their claim.

Additionally, some travel insurance plans will cover your costs if a companion or even a non-traveling family member falls ill.

If you fall ill while on your trip, you can submit a claim for the expenses of traveling home early and for any unused part of your hotel stay.

If you’re traveling abroad, insurance is often a good idea anyway, but can be especially helpful if you require medical assistance or treatment while out of the country.

To help make your decision easier, Squaremouth has set up a help center on its website, where you’ll find a list of FAQs and helpful information.

Ultimately, whether or not you purchase travel insurance is entirely up to you. During a gnarly flu season, however, this decision becomes a little more significant.

Either way, it’s important to consider your plans and what you stand to lose if you fall ill and can’t make your flight — and then to make the best decision for you and your family.

Grace Schweizer is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.

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