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Why getting travel insurance should be the first step after booking a vacation

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Booking a plane ticket almost always comes with an offer to insure your flight, but travel experts warn not all offers are created equal.

CBS Austin breaks down what travel insurance covers and what to look out for.

When planning a trip, thinking about what could go wrong is probably the last thing you want to do, but experts say it should be the first step after booking a vacation.

"What is the worst thing that could happen? Is it a family member having a medical issue, death?" said family economics and life management professor Karrol Kitt.

Kitt said the worst thing that can happen on a trip rarely does, but that's when it pays to be pessimistic.

Buda resident Patti Farber learned firsthand just how important travel insurance can be when her step father decided to fly to China.

Farber said her step dad wasn't in very good health when he decided to make the trip overseas, but he was determined so, he bought a policy to ease her worries.

"He wasn't there three days and he got sick and stuck in the hospital for three weeks," Farber said.

She said the $250 insurance policy he bought likely saved his life.

"He stayed there in ICU for another few weeks, and when he was well enough to fly home they flew him home and drove him to the front door with a doctor on board with him and it never cost him another dime," Farber said.

But when considering if you need travel insurance Kitt said the answer isn't black and white.

"The major factor is you, your lifestyle, your health or your family's health," Kitt said.

Industry experts say insuring international trips are a must, primarily because your medical insurance won't work abroad.

Kitt also suggests going with a third-party plan. She said when you're prompted by the airline to protect your flight, just keep scrolling. Most credit cards have your back.

Most insurance plans should cover trip interruption, cancellation and emergency medical needs, but experts warn that "cancel for any reason policies" can be misleading.

"Total coverage is never total. It may be 50 percent, it may be 70 percent, but it's not 100 percent," Kitt said.

Policies can range from five to 10 percent of the total trip cost. For example, if you want to insure a $2,000 vacation and your policy is on the expensive side, it will cost you an extra $200.

It's an expense Farber said is well worth it.

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"I would not travel without it. Not out of the U.S. for sure," Farber said.

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