Since Spain for most of us is far from home, and a number of things could go wrong -- lost luggage, trip cancellation, a medical emergency -- consider the following types of insurance.
For travel overseas, most U.S. health plans (including Medicare and Medicaid) do not provide coverage, and the ones that do often require you to pay for services upfront and reimburse you only after you return home. As a safety net, you may want to buy travel medical insurance. If you require additional medical insurance, try MEDEX Assistance (tel. 410/453-6300; www.medexassist.com) or Travel Assistance International (tel. 800/821-2828; www.travelassistance.com; for general information on services, call the company's Worldwide Assistance Services, Inc, at tel. 800/777-8710).
Canadians should check with their provincial health plan office or call Health Canada (tel. 866/225-0709; www.hc-sc.gc.ca) to find out the extent of their coverage and what documentation and receipts they must take home if they are treated in Spain.
Travelers from the U.K. should carry their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) as proof of entitlement to free/reduced-cost medical treatment abroad (tel. 0845/606-2030; www.ehic.org.uk). Note, however, that the EHIC only covers "necessary medical treatment," and for repatriation costs, lost money, baggage, or cancellation, travel insurance from a reputable company should always be sought (www.travelinsuranceweb.com).
Travel Insurance -- The cost of travel insurance varies widely, depending on the destination, the cost and length of your trip, and your age and health. You can get estimates from various providers through InsureMyTrip.com. Enter your trip cost and dates, your age, and other information for prices from more than a dozen companies.
Families who make more than one trip abroad per year may find an annual travel insurance policy works out cheaper. Check www.moneysupermarket.com, which compares prices across a wide range of providers for single-trip and multitrip policies.
Most big travel agents offer their own insurance and will try to sell you their package when you book a holiday. Think before you sign. Britain's Consumers' Association recommends that you insist on seeing the policy and reading the fine print before buying travel insurance. The Association of British Insurers (tel. 020/7600-3333; www.abi.org.uk) gives advice by phone and publishes Holiday Insurance, a free guide to policy provisions and prices. You might also shop around for better deals: Try Columbus Direct (tel. 0870/033-9988; www.columbusdirect.net).
Trip-Cancellation Insurance -- Trip-cancellation insurance will help you retrieve your money if you have to back out of a trip or come home early, or if your travel supplier goes bankrupt. You won't get back 100% of your prepaid trip cost, but you'll be refunded a substantial portion.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.