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What the travel warning for Mexico means for your wallet

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Sally McDonald, Clark.com

The U.S. Department of State recently issued a travel warning to U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain parts of Mexico. This is especially relevant because the warning includes numerous popular destinations like Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Riviera Maya, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta and Tijuana.

Clark’s rules for buying travel insurance

While many Americans will choose to continue with their travel plans, others will consider calling off their trips. But can you get your money back if you cancel a vacation? That’s where travel insurance can help.

In fact, money expert Clark Howard typically recommends travel insurance for a cruise, a tour or a trip that requires prepayment of thousands of dollars. The key is to understand your needs and what to look for in a policy.

Understand the coverage

It’s essential to know what’s covered because travel insurance doesn’t cover everything. Policies are designed to protect consumers by giving them refunds in the event of illness to the traveler or immediate family member, or to provide a refund in the case of company, tour operator or airline default.

In most cases, travel insurance doesn’t cover a State Department advisory or acts of terrorism. To get any money back if you decide to cancel, you need to opt for a more expensive policy. You’ll pay about 50% more, and if you do cancel, you’ll be reimbursed up a certain percentage (likely 70%) of your prepaid trip.

Shop around

It is always important to comparison shop — especially for insurance! You can review several plans and providers at sites like InsureMyTrip.com to get a better idea. Be sure to pay special attention to any exclusions!

Understand the insurer

If you decide to purchase travel insurance with a booking website like Travelocity, Orbitz or Expedia, take a look at which company is actually writing the policy (it’s usually not the booking company) so you can get the claim process started quickly and efficiently.

Consumers should always purchase a policy independent of the cruise, tour or vacation planner. They are designed to protect only the company and not the consumer.

More resources for travel insurance

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