Baggage – To Check or Not to Check

Came across an interesting article concerning the new restrictions for carry-on baggage. It does a good job explaining some of the restrictions put forth by the Transportation Security Administration in reaction to the foiled terrorist plot last month. The article mentions how travel insurance could help, stating:

It’s possible to buy insurance, but there are limitations. Most airlines sell excess valuation insurance, but it covers only the loss of luggage, not damage to the contents, and doesn’t cover computers or other valuables.

It then goes on describing some of the limitations of what baggage insurance covers:

Most travel-insurance policies limit the amount reimbursed for individual items. Access America’s standard trip insurance policy, for instance, puts a $500 cap on computers, cameras and watches, and pays out only when passengers can produce original receipts.

These sublimits are definitely something to keep in mind when buying insurance, as well as having receipts(very important!), along with:

  • Is the coverage primary or secondary?
  • Is there a per-item limit?
  • Are any of my baggage items excluded from coverage?

Primary and Secondary Coverage

Most plans that are available to travelers from the US have baggage insurance that is secondary, meaning that if there are any other plans(such as what the airline offers or your homeowners insurance) that cover your baggage it will coordinate its coverage around that. So if your primary plan covers your lost or stolen item these types of plans will expect you to go to your primary plan first. Not all travelers would like to put in a claim for relatively small losses with their homeowners. In this case Travel Guard’s Cruise Tour and Travel and Travelex’s TraveLite or Travel Plus would provide primary coverage and not require you to involve claiming with other plans.

Per-item Baggage Limits

Another type of sublimit commonly referred to as a per-item limit limits each item in your luggage to a set amount, no matter what the actual cash value is. This is similiar to the cap(also called an aggregate limit) in Access America’s plan mentioned above, but applies to every single item in your baggage, not just certain items such as cameras or jewelry. These types of plans would be a good choice if most items in your luggage are under $250-$300 each. If not CSA’s Freestyle and Freestyle Luxe as well as HTH’s Trip Protector and Trip Protector Preferred do not have set per item limits, or aggregate limits for that matter – but are secondary in coverage.


Most baggage insurance plans are all-risk policies – basically meaning that if it is not specifically excluded in the policy then it is covered. So the exclusions are important to know especially if you have unique items that you are bringing along with you. The average traveler usually doesn’t have to worry too much about general baggage items being excluded, but its still wise to read through the exclusions to make sure you understand what isn’t covered. Some of the most common exclusions are animals, items used for business and money.

With all the new regulations and restrictions on what you can carry-on it is definitely worthwhile to do a little bit of homework and see if baggage insurance will help ease your concerns about having to put more of your important belongings in your checked baggage. Make sure you visit the TSA’s list of permitted and prohibited items before you pack.

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