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Travel insurance doesn’t always work. 

There, I said it. 

Sometimes, travel insurance is worthless. I know, because a few weeks ago, I wrote a column about how travel insurance can sometimes save the day, and many of you, dear readers, begged to differ.

More: Travel insurance can save the day

Diane McGrew says she always buys insurance and assumed it would protect her vacation when she canceled her trip to Europe last year after terrorist attacks in Belgium. 

“It didn’t,” says McGrew, a retired print manager from St. Joseph, Minn. “We were shocked. It was a $4,500 loss to us. We never received one penny back.”

That’s the thing about travel insurance. It covers you — except when it doesn’t. 

Most policies place strict limits on terrorism-related claims. In McGrew’s case, she canceled because of worries about terrorist activity in Belgium. “The denial was based on something regarding known terrorist cells as opposed to an actual event,” she recalls. 

Right now, during one of the busier times of the year for insurance claims, it helps to know what that shiny new policy will really do — and won’t do — for you.

“Travel insurance means different things to different travelers,” says Mike Kelly, a risk consultant with AHT Insurance, an insurance brokerage and consulting firm. “Most travel insurance policies vary widely.”

That’s true. What do you do when a policy fails to deliver as advertised? Insurance insiders might argue that there’s no such thing, that the real problem is travelers who don’t take the time to read the policy. 

“I’ve never heard of insurance that did not work as advertised,” says veteran travel agent Michelle Weller, who works for Travel Leaders in Houston. “But I have noticed some people do not read the fine print.”

Before you write off your policy as a failure, take a moment to read everything. Remember, only the more expensive “cancel for any reason” policies actually let you cancel for any reason — and even those policies have rules.

Reading before a purchase can be a frustrating experience. Tom Moore, a retired college professor from Grinnell, Iowa, sometimes considers travel insurance for his trips. Then he reviews the policy. 

“I get into the morass of…