Reuters

(Reuters)

A Guided Tour of Summer Vacation Insurance

By Lifestyle and Budget Zillow

Summer is here, and in between neighborhood cookouts and days by the pool, you might be taking that much-needed vacation. Whether you plan to spend a relaxing week at the beach or fly overseas for a big European adventure, there’s a lot to consider when packing and preparing for your trip. Insurance should be one of those considerations.

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Insurance may not be your first thought when it comes to planning a vacation, but overlooking it could cost you. What if a hurricane hits Florida right before your prepaid trip to the Keys? What if someone steals your belongings from your hotel room? What if you get in a fender bender in your rental car?

Life throws too many curveballs your way to neglect your insurance. From protecting the financial investment of your trip to securing your home while you’re away, here are some considerations to help prepare you and your family for some of the unforeseen twists you could encounter.

If you’re flying

Flying is generally faster and safer than other modes of travel, but it’s also often pricier. If you are shelling out big money for plane tickets, consider purchasing travel insurance. Travel insurance covers issues such as flight cancellations, lost or stolen bags, trip cancellations due to illness, medical emergencies in foreign countries and more.

According to a survey by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, nearly 17 percent of Americans say their travel plans have been impacted by medical conditions, natural disasters including severe weather, or mechanical or carrier-caused problems.

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When you consider that a family of four spends an average of about $4,000 on a vacation with airfare, according to American Express, the cost of travel insurance may be worth it to protect your trip. Just make sure to do a little bit of research before settling on a policy. Pay attention to both the price and the coverage.

If you purchased your trip using a credit card, you may have built-in travel insurance. Many cards cover trip interruptions or delays, trip cancellations and lost baggage. Before you invest in a travel insurance policy, call your credit card company and see whether you’re already covered.

If you’re driving

Hitting the open road instead of the friendly skies? Review your auto insurance policy. Do you have sufficient coverage? Should you add any additional coverage, such as roadside assistance? Once you’ve gotten a refresher of your auto policy, make sure you’ve got your insurance ID cards handy for your trip.

If you’re renting a car, your personal auto insurance policy may extend its coverage to your rental car. However, call your auto insurance company to nail this down. Depending on the type of policy you carry, you may not have sufficient coverage.

If you plan to pay for the rental car with a credit card, your card might cover damage to a rental car. Again, call the credit card company ahead of time to check.

Taking these steps means you know the answer without even thinking when the rental car agent pitches the company’s insurance coverage. If you don’t have the coverage on your personal auto policy or a card, you might want to take the plunge on the rental car plan. Otherwise, you could wind up paying for costly repairs to the vehicle and for income lost to the company while the repairs are being made.

Protecting your belongings

While you’re on vacation, it’s easy for your personal belongings to get lost or stolen. Burglars love the summer, too. That’s why it’s important to take extra precautions in securing your belongings both on your trip and back home.

On your trip

From the airport to the hotel, there are plenty of opportunities for your possessions to go missing or get damaged. Luckily, your standard homeowners insurance policy likely includes personal contents coverage, which can protect your things even when they aren’t at home. Call your insurance company to find out for sure if you’re covered.

While your home insurance policy may give you peace of mind, there are still ways to prevent your items from winding up lost or stolen. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your money, passport and credit cards with you at all times. Leave any unnecessary IDs or credit cards at home.
  • Utilize your hotel room’s safe for valuable items — or better yet, don’t bring them.
  • Whether you are at the airport or hanging by the pool, never leave your personal belongings unattended.
  • It may not be tangible, but you don’t want your identity stolen, either. Always be wary of public Wi-Fi. If there’s no password, it’s probably not a secure network.

Back home

While you’re away, your home could be more vulnerable to break-ins. Here are a few ways to keep it secure:

  • Before you leave, ask a close friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your house and notify you or the police if something looks awry.
  • Be careful when posting details about your vacation online. You could tip off criminals in the process. You can always brag and show off photos after you return.
  • Purchase light switch timers. You can program lights to go off and on at certain times so it looks like someone is home.
  • Unplug electronics and appliances. You won’t just protect them from power surges, you’ll also save on electricity.

A vacation should be fun and relaxing. Don’t let it become stressful by forgetting to consider insurance.

More from Zillow.com:
The 5-Step Plan for Buying a Vacation Home
Will a Vacation Home Work as a Retirement Home Later?
Insuring Your Long-Distance Move