Monthly Archives: July 2019

UK Style Acid Attacks Begin in U.S.

acid-attack NYC

A teen badly injured when she was doused with acid at an East Village party in May is calling on cops to catch the person who left her with debilitating third-degree burns.

Ava Aldrich, 18, spent two nights in the ICU at Weill Cornell Medical Center and underwent skin-graft surgery in June after she was among a dozen teens burned when drain-clearing sulfuric acid was thrown at them during a party at a NYCHA development.

“It was extremely painful,” the young Manhattan woman told The Post. “I felt like my legs were burning. I saw holes in my jeans, and it was eating into my skin.”

Aldrich and more than 100 other teens had shown up at the First Houses on East Third Street on May 4 for a party advertised on social media when paint and a caustic substance — later revealed to be an industrial drain cleaner — started raining down on them from above at around 10 p.m.

Witnesses said it came from a fourth-floor apartment which overlooks an outdoor entrance to the basement where the party was held, according to law-enforcement sources.

At least 10 teens between ages 15 and 18 were hospitalized with minor burns — but Aldrich was severely injured. 

She suffered third-degree burns to her legs and will have to wear compression bandages 23 hours a day for at least the next nine months.

“I’m obviously frustrated because they can’t arrest who did this,” said Aldrich, a recent Eleanor Roosevelt HS graduate.

She plans to attend the University of California Santa Cruz next year, and will spend her first year of college in the bandages.

Detectives from the Ninth Precinct have talked to several people who were in the apartment at the time, but they denied throwing anything, law-enforcement sources said.

A 911 call came from the same apartment, they said. But without someone identifying the attacker, it will be hard to make an arrest.

“It’s hard to not think about it all the time,” Aldrich said. “I just try to deal with it, but sometimes, I’ll get upset or angry.

“I’m not really the person to be like, ‘Why did this happen to me?’ I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” she said.

Her mom, Amy Aldrich, praised her daughter’s bravery but said the past three months had been “really terrible” for the family.

“Just about every medical professional, when they see her legs, say, ‘Why hasn’t someone been caught?’ ” the mom said.

Crime Stoppers is offering a $2,500 reward for information on the assault. Anonymous calls may be made to (800) 577-TIPS.

By Ebony Bowden and Larry Celona

TRAVEL ALERT! The 20 most dangerous cities in the world. Cancún makes List.

Travel SERAPH

24/7 Wall St. reviewed the world’s 20 most dangerous cities – the ones with the highest murder rates – as reported by El Consejo Ciudadano para la Seguridad Pública y la Justicia Penal (The Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice), a Mexico City-based advocacy group.

 20. Ciudad Obregón, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 52
• Homicides in 2018: 179
• Population: 343,613

This northwestern Mexican city debuted on this annual ranking in 2014 with a homicide rate of 37.7 murders per 100,000 residents, the world’s 31st and Mexico’s fourth most dangerous city that year. After nearly dropping from the list in 2015, ranking 50th that year, the murder rate rose to 52 per 100,000 in 2018 largely due to local rival drug-gang violence.

 19. Kingston, Jamaica
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 54
• Homicides in 2018: 639
• Population: 1,180,771

Local organized crime drove the homicide rate in Jamaica’s capital city to a recent peak of nearly 60 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017. That rate has declined to 54 per 100,000 in 2018, pushing Kingston’s ranking up from 16th to 19th in this annual list of the world’s 50 most dangerous cities that started with 2013 data.

 18. Uruapan, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 55
• Homicides in 2018: 189
• Population: 346,640

A recent increase in violent crime has put this highland inland city on this list of the world’s most dangerous cities for the first time since records began in 2013. Violent crime, largely in the form of gun-related homicides, continued in 2019, despite reported heightened security operations. The governor of Michoacán state has pledged to further increase police presence to stem a rising tide of organized criminal activity.

 17. Barquisimeto, Venezuela
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 57
• Homicides in 2018: 683
• Population: 1,205,142

Venezuela’s fourth most populous city became its fourth most dangerous in 2018. The city’s murder rate rose from 8.2 per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 57 per 100,000 residents in 2018. The murder rate has hovered between 46 and 60 per 100,000 residents since 2014.

16. Culiacán, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 61
• Homicides in 2018: 585
• Population: 966,609

The capital of northwestern Sinaloa state has a long history as a center of drug cartel activity, and though it ranks high among Mexico’s most dangerous cities, it’s fallen from second place in 2014 to seventh in 2018. The homicide rate declined in 2018 from 70.1 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017. Like other cities in Mexico’s northwest and border regions, Culiacán struggles to contain drug-gang gun violence with only a recent modest decline in killings.

 15. St. Louis, USA
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 61
• Homicides in 2018: 187
• Population: 308,626

Chicago is often derided for its violent crime, but St. Louis has been the murder capital of the United States since 2014, while Chicago has never made this list. The homicide rate in St. Louis declined in 2018 to 61 murders per 100,000 residents from nearly 66 per 100,000 in 2017. The last time the rate was below 50 was in 2013 (the first year of this annual report), when the murder rate was 34 per 100,000 and St. Louis as the fourth most dangerous U.S. city.

 14. Feira de Santana, Brazil
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 63
• Homicides in 2018: 386
• Population: 609,913

Located roughly 60 miles northwest of Salvador, Brazil (ranked 29th on this list), the homicide rate in this inland city increased in 2018 from 58.8 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017. This is the fourth consecutive year that Feira de Santana appears on this annual report. The city is a major commercial center for Bahia state, making it an ideal conduit for regional drug trafficking.

 13. Cancún, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 64
• Homicides in 2018: 547
• Population: 848,465

The popular tourist destination of Cancún on the country’s Caribbean coast has emerged for the first time on this annual ranking. The local murder rate more than doubled in 2018 as violence escalated amid a nationwide record-breaking homicide rate in 2018 attributed to drug and non-drug related criminal gang violence. More Mexican cities have appeared on this list for the first time than the number cities that dropped from the list last year.

 12. Belém, Brazil
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 65
• Homicides in 2018: 1,627
• Population: 2,491,052

This eastern gateway city in the lush Amazon region, the capital of Pará (Brazil’s second largest state by landmass) is Brazil’s third most dangerous city for a second consecutive year. The city was the country’s second most dangerous city in 2016 with a rate of 67.4 homicides per 100,000 residents. The rate increased a year later, to 71.4 per 100,000, but the city’s ranking among Brazil’s most dangerous cities fell from second to third place in 2017 because of a sharper increase in murders in Fortaleza (No. 9 on this list) and Natal (No. 8 on this list).

 11. Cape Town, South Africa
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 66
• Homicides in 2018: 2,868
• Population: 4,322,031

South Africa’s legislative capital is consistently also the country’s murder capital, with a homicide rate that hit a record high since the first edition of the annual report by The Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice in 2013. The murder rate increased last year to 66 homicides per 100,000 residents following two consecutive annual declines from 65.5 per 100,000 in 2015. Cape Town also fell in the ranks from the world’s 15th most dangerous city in 2017 to 11th in 2018. In 2015, the city was the top 10 most dangerous cities on this list, at No. 9.

 10. Ciudad Bolívar, Venezuela
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 69
• Homicides in 2018: 264
• Population: 382,095

Violent crime has flourished as Venezuela has been in the process of collapsing into a failed state. Ciudad Bolívar, located 75 miles up the Orinoco River from Guyana City (No. 7 on this list), debuted in 2018 on this list of the 50 world’s most dangerous cities. In addition to the rise in violent crime in the city, Bolivar was flooded in August of last year. This may lead to a rise in opportunistic criminal activity.

 9. Fortaleza, Brazil
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 69
• Homicides in 2018: 2,724
• Population: 3,939,460

The murder rate in one of Brazil’s biggest cities dropped from 83.5 homicies per 100,000 residents in 2017, the highest rate for the city in over five years. Located about 1,400 miles north of São Paulo, the capital of northeastern Ceará state, Fortaleza was Brazil’s second most dangerous city last year.

 8. Natal, Brazil
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 75
• Homicides in 2018: 1,185
• Population: 1,587,055

The capital and largest city in Rio Grande do Norte, the second largest oil-producing state in Brazil, experienced a decline in the homicide rate from nearly 103 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 75 per 100,000 in 2018. Fortaleza (ranked ninth on this list) slightly edged out Natal as the country’s most dangerous city in 2015. But since then, Natal, a port city 120 miles up the coast from João Pessoa (44th on this list), has been country’s murder capital for three consecutive years.

 7. Ciudad Guayana, Venezuela
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 78
• Homicides in 2018: 645
• Population: 823,722

This Venezuelan port city on the banks of the Orinoco River is Venezuela’s second most dangerous city for the second consecutive year despite a slight drop in the homicide rate last year, from 80.3 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017. Violent crime appears to be spreading along the Orinoco, with Ciudad Bolivar, 65 miles west of Guyana City, appearing on this list for the first time at No. 10. Like elsewhere in the country, the region’s cities are struggling with food scarcities and high crime amid Venezuela’s years-long and worsening economic and security crisis.

 6. Irapuato, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 81
• Homicides in 2018: 473
• Population: 580,808

A newcomer to this annual ranking, Irapuato has debuted with 81 murders per 100,000 residents in 2018. Suddenly, this lush city in the center of Mexico’s Guanajuato state, known for its scenic gardens, has become Mexico’s fifth most dangerous city. Irapuato has been sucked into a regional rise in criminal gang activity, including kidnappings and extortion.

 5. Ciudad Juárez, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 86
• Homicides in 2018: 1,251
• Population: 1,462,133

This border city of over 1.4 million people across the river from El Paso experienced a sharp increase in murders in 2018, with the murder rate rising from 56.2 homicides per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 86 per 100,000. The city appeared first on this list with a homicide rate of nearly 38 per 100,000 residents in 2013, at the time Mexico’s seventh most dangerous city. The city fell off the list in 2015 but reappeared a year later. Since then, the homicide rate has increased in each of the past three consecutive years, and Juárez now has the third highest murder rate in Mexico.

 4. Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 86
• Homicides in 2018: 314
• Population: 365,089

The capital of Tamaulipas state, at Mexico’s northeastern border with Texas, has been ravaged in recent years by turf wars between offshoot gangs that split off from the Gulf and Zeta cartels in the wake of heightened security operations. Killings flared in 2016, when the city’s homicide rate jumped to nearly 85 murders per 100,000 residents from just over 30 per 100,00 a year earlier. Victoria is currently Mexico’s third most dangerous city.

 3. Caracas, Venezuela
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 100
• Homicides in 2018: 2,980
• Population: 2,980,492

Caracas holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s most dangerous national capital each year since data was first compiled for the study in 2013. It’s also been either the most or second most dangerous city on this annual ranking until it fell to third place in 2018, displaced by the Mexican cities of Tijuana and Acapulco.

 2. Acapulco, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 111
• Homicides in 2018: 948
• Population: 857,883

Tijuana may have been the murder capital of Mexico last year, but the touristic western port city of Acapulco has been the most or second most dangerous Mexican city every year since 2013, the first year of this report. Acapulco has racked up a significantly higher body count over the years than other Mexican cities on this list, with homicides rates of between 104 and 113 murders per 100,000 residents in each of the past six years.

 1. Tijuana, Mexico
• Homicides per 100,000 in 2018: 138
• Homicides in 2018: 2,640
• Population: 1,909,424

This Mexican border city 15 miles south of downtown San Diego has long been one of Mexico’s most violent cities. But even by murder-capital standards, Tijuana has an extremely high murder rate, with no signs of the killings abating. Already, 2019 kicked off with three murders on New Year’s Eve. The city’s homicide rate jumped from roughly 100 murders per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 138 per 100,000 in 2018.

The Heart of Darkness: The Sexual Predators Within America’s Power Elite

Hollywood Child Abuse

“As political and economic freedom diminishes, sexual freedom tends compensating to increase. And the dictator (unless he needs cannon fodder and families with which to colonize empty or conquered territories) will do well to encourage that freedom.”—Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Power corrupts.

Anyone who believes differently hasn’t been paying attention.

Politics, religion, sports, government, entertainment, business, armed forces: it doesn’t matter what arena you’re talking about, they are all riddled with the kind of seedy, sleazy, decadent, dodgy, depraved, immoral, corrupt behavior that somehow gets a free pass when it involves the wealthy and powerful elite in America.

In this age of partisan politics and a deeply polarized populace, corruption—especially when it involves sexual debauchery, depravity and predatory behavior—has become the great equalizer.

Take Jeffrey Epstein, the hedge fund billionaire / convicted serial pedophile recently arrested on charges of molesting, raping and sex trafficking dozens of young girls.

It is believed that Epstein operated his own personal sex trafficking ring not only for his personal pleasure but also for the pleasure of his friends and business associates. According to The Washington Post, “several of the young women…say they were offered to the rich and famous as sex partners at Epstein’s parties.” At various times, Epstein ferried his friends about on his private plane, nicknamed the “Lolita Express.”

This is part of America’s seedy underbelly.

As I documented in the in-depth piece I wrote earlier this year, child sex trafficking—the buying and selling of women, young girls and boys for sex, some as young as 9 years old—has become big business in America. It is the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

Adults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

It’s not just young girls who are vulnerable to these predators, either.

According to a 2016 investigative report, “boys make up about 36% of children caught up in the U.S. sex industry (about 60% are female and less than 5% are transgender males and females).”

Who buys a child for sex?

Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life. “They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

Ordinary men, yes.

But then there are the extra-ordinary men, such as Jeffrey Epstein, who belong to a powerful, wealthy, elite segment of society that operates according to their own rules or, rather, who are allowed to sidestep the rules that are used like a bludgeon on the rest of us.

These men skate free of accountability by taking advantage of a criminal justice system that panders to the powerful, the wealthy and the elite.

Over a decade ago, when Epstein was first charged with raping and molesting young girls, he was gifted a secret plea deal with then-U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta, President Trump’s current Labor Secretary, that allowed him to evade federal charges and be given the equivalent of a slap on the wrist: allowed to “work” at home six days a week before returning to jail to sleep. That secret plea deal has since been ruled illegal by a federal judge.

Yet here’s the thing: Epstein did not act alone.

I refer not only to Epstein’s accomplices, who recruited and groomed the young girls he is accused of raping and molesting, many of them homeless or vulnerable, but his circle of influential friends and colleagues that at one time included Bill Clinton and Donald Trump. Both Clinton and Trump, renowned womanizers who have also been accused of sexual impropriety by a significant number of women, were at one time passengers on the Lolita Express.

As the Associated Press points out, “The arrest of the billionaire financier on child sex trafficking charges is raising questions about how much his high-powered associates knew about the hedge fund manager’s interactions with underage girls, and whether they turned a blind eye to potentially illegal conduct.”

In fact, a recent decision by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals allowing a 2,000-page document linked to the Epstein case to be unsealed references allegations of sexual abuse involving “numerous prominent American politicians, powerful business executives, foreign presidents, a well-known Prime Minister, and other world leaders.”

This is not a minor incident involving minor players.

This is the heart of darkness.

Sex slaves. Sex trafficking. Secret societies. Powerful elites. Government corruption. Judicial cover-ups.

Once again, fact and fiction mirror each other.

Twenty years ago, Stanley Kubrick’s final film Eyes Wide Shut provided viewing audiences with a sordid glimpse into a secret sex society that indulged the basest urges of its affluent members while preying on vulnerable young women. It is not so different from the real world, where powerful men, insulated from accountability, indulge their base urges.

These secret societies flourish, implied Kubrick, because the rest of us are content to navigate life with our eyes wide shut, in denial about the ugly, obvious truths in our midst.

In so doing, we become accomplices to abusive behavior in our midst.

This is how corruption by the power elite flourishes.

For every Epstein who is—finally—called to account for his illegal sexual exploits after years of being given a free pass by those in power, there are hundreds (perhaps thousands) more in the halls of power and wealth whose predation of those most vulnerable among us continues unabated.

While Epstein’s alleged crimes are heinous enough on their own, he is part of a larger narrative of how a culture of entitlement becomes a cesspool and a breeding ground for despots and predators.

Remember the “DC Madam” who was charged with operating a phone-order sex business? Her clients included thousands of White House officials, lobbyists, and Pentagon, FBI, and IRS employees, as well as prominent lawyers, none of whom were ever exposed or held accountable.

Power corrupts.

Worse, as 19th-century historian Lord Acton concluded, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about a politician, an entertainment mogul, a corporate CEO or a police officer: give any one person (or government agency) too much power and allow him or her or it to believe that they are entitled, untouchable and will not be held accountable for their actions, and those powers will eventually be abused.

We’re seeing this dynamic play out every day in communities across America.

Abuse of power—and the ambition-fueled hypocrisy and deliberate disregard for misconduct that make those abuses possible—works the same whether you’re talking about sex crimes, government corruption, or the rule of law.

It’s the same old story all over again: man rises to power, man abuses power abominably, man intimidates and threatens anyone who challenges him with retaliation or worse, and man gets away with it because of a culture of compliance in which no one speaks up because they don’t want to lose their job or their money or their place among the elite.

It’s not just sexual predators that we have to worry about.

For every Jeffrey Epstein (or Bill Clinton or Harvey Weinstein or Roger Ailes or Bill Cosby or Donald Trump) who eventually gets called out for his sexual misbehavior, there are hundreds—thousands—of others in the American police state who are getting away with murder—in many cases, literally—simply because they can.

Unless something changes in the way we deal with these ongoing, egregious abuses of power, the predators of the police state will continue to wreak havoc on our freedoms, our communities, and our lives.

And powerful men (and women) will continue to abuse the powers of their office by treating those around them as underlings and second-class citizens who are unworthy of dignity and respect and undeserving of the legal rights and protections that should be afforded to all Americans.

As Dacher Keltner, professor of psychology at the at the University of California, Berkeley, observed in the Harvard Business Review, “While people usually gain power through traits and actions that advance the interests of others, such as empathy, collaboration, openness, fairness, and sharing; when they start to feel powerful or enjoy a position of privilege, those qualities begin to fade. The powerful are more likely than other people to engage in rude, selfish, and unethical behavior.”

After conducting a series of experiments into the phenomenon of how power corrupts, Keltner concluded: “Just the random assignment of power, and all kinds of mischief ensues, and people will become impulsive. They eat more resources than is their fair share. They take more money. People become more unethical.They think unethical behavior is okay if they engage in it. People are more likely to stereotype. They’re more likely to stop attending to other people carefully.”

Power corrupts.

And absolute power corrupts absolutely.

However, it takes a culture of entitlement and a nation of compliant, willfully ignorant, politically divided citizens to provide the foundations of tyranny.

As researchers Joris Lammers and Adam Galinsky found, those in power not only tend to abuse that power but they also feel entitled to abuse it: “People with power that they think is justified break rules not only because they can get away with it, but also because they feel at some intuitive level that they are entitled to take what they want.”

We need to restore the rule of law for all people, no exceptions.

Here’s what the rule of law means in a nutshell: it means that everyone is treated the same under the law, everyone is held equally accountable to abiding by the law, and no one is given a free pass based on their politics, their connections, their wealth, their status or any other bright line test used to confer special treatment on the elite.

This culture of compliance must stop.

The empowerment of petty tyrants and political gods must end.

The state of denial must cease.

Let’s not allow this Epstein sex scandal to become just another blip in the news cycle that goes away all too soon, only to be forgotten when another titillating news headline takes its place.

Sex trafficking, like so many of the evils in our midst, is a cultural disease that is rooted in the American police state’s heart of darkness. It speaks to a far-reaching corruption that stretches from the highest seats of power down to the most hidden corners and relies on our silence and our complicity to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing.

If we want to put an end to these wrongs, we must keep our eyes wide open.

By John W. Whitehead

Terror watch: Shame on Antifa’s Apologists

Nazi KKK Antifa

The hard left’s ideology isn’t popular at the ballot box, “so they must resort to caustic measures of their own to literally beat the right,” warns Raheem Kassam at Human Events.

Witness the group Antifa, which over the weekend physically assaulted the journalist Andy Ngo in Portland, Ore., sending him to the hospital.

Despite Antifa’s history of violence, “Democratic candidates, their fellow travelers in the media and international politicians of the left have long attempted to defend” the group — from former Rep. Keith Ellison, “who endorsed the Antifa handbook which encourages ‘militant’ behavior,” to CNN’s Don Lemon and The Nation magazine’s Natasha Lennard, who’ve both offered apologia.

“Given what happened to Ngo,” writes Kassam, “it is time they were all shamed.”

The Truth About Hate Crimes At Universities

Truth Hate Crimes in the U.S.

Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center make headlines by claiming hate crimes have surged since Trump’s election, but the real surge is in hate hoaxes, especially among college students.

The day after the 2016 election, Eleesha Long, a student at Bowling Green State University, also in Ohio, said she was attacked by white Trump supporters, who threw rocks at her. Police concluded that she had fabricated the story.

That same day, Kathy Mirah Tu, a University of Minnesota student, claimed in a viral social-media post that she’d been detained by police after she fought a racist man who had attacked her. Campus and local police said that they had had no contact with her.

Again that day, a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette made up a story about being attacked and robbed by Trump supporters, who supposedly ripped off her hijab. For weeks after Trump’s election, America was fed a series of outrageous stories of campus race-hatred that fell apart upon examination.

This hate-hoax trend has continued unabated since. In May 2017, mass “anti-racism” protests roiled St. Olaf College in Minnesota, causing classes to be canceled. Authorities discovered that Samantha Wells, a black student activist, had left a racist threat — on her own car.

In September of that year, five black students at the US Air Force Academy Preparatory School found racial slurs written on their doors. An investigation later found that one of the students targeted was responsible for the vandalism.

In November 2018, students at Goucher College in Maryland demanded social-justice training and safe spaces after “I’m gonna kill all [n - - - - s]” was discovered written in a dorm bathroom. Fynn Arthur, a black student, was responsible for the hoax.

That same month, thousands of students at Drake University in Iowa protested after racist notes turned up on campus. Kissie Ram, an Indian-American student, admitted to targeting herself and others in the hoax. She later pled guilty to making a false report to a public entity.

And there are dozens of other examples. They all point to a sickness in American society, with our institutions of higher education too often doubling as “hate-hoax mills,” encouraged by a bloated grievance industry in the form of diversity administrators.

At Oberlin, in particular, this problem precedes the Trump era. In 2013, students at the elite liberal-arts college panicked after someone reported seeing a person in a Ku Klux Klan robe on campus. The administration canceled all classes for the day.

The phantom klansman was never found, though police did find someone wrapped in a blanket. This overreaction was preceded by a month-long spate of racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay posters around campus. These, too, were found to be hoaxes.

Obsessed with identity, privilege and oppression, our institutions of higher education increasingly promote a paranoid climate of perpetual crisis. Is it surprising, then, that young men and women caught in this hothouse environment would ­respond to an incentive structure that rewards manufactured victimhood?

Andy Ngo

8 Things to Know About Travel Insurance

Travel SERAPH

Will you regret not buying travel insurance? Sometimes costly and often confusing, travel insurance coverage might seem like a trip-planning technicality that’s all too easy to ignore. But Murphy’s law is Murphy’s law, and a good policy could afford you priceless peace of mind. Below are a few things to know about travel insurance before you purchase coverage, including which policies might work best for your type of trip, which policies could be completely useless, and how to shop for the best plan.

You Might Need It

Is travel insurance worth it? That’s the big question for any traveler considering travel insurance. Here’s my general rule: If you’re taking a long, expensive, or ambitious trip to a far-flung destination, travel insurance could be a smart choice. If a natural disaster or sudden illness were to ruin your travel plans, would you lose a great deal of money? Is this the trip of a lifetime? Have you been saving for this getaway for years? Are you traveling to a place with poor local healthcare facilities? Are your accommodations and plane tickets costly and nonrefundable? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you’d do well to seriously consider a plan.

Policies generally cost 5 to 15 percent of the total cost of a trip, depending on the age of the traveler, the level of coverage, and your trip details. If a good policy fits within your budget, it certainly can’t hurt to guard your health and your wallet against calamity.

Your Homeowner’s or Renter’s Insurance Might Offer Sufficient Coverage

If it’s simply your valuables you’re worried about, travel insurance might not be your best bet. Although many travel insurance policies include coverage of stolen or lost items, your belongings may already be covered by homeowner’s or renter’s insurance.

Most homeowner’s and renter’s policies will cover your belongings even if they’re off premises, though you may be limited to 10 percent of the total value of your coverage. If you have a policy like this, travel insurance policies that include coverage for baggage or personal items could be unnecessary. Consumer advocate and SmarterTravel contributor Ed Perkins advises, “Buying a bundled policy is clearly overkill if you just want property coverage.”

Your Credit Card Might Be Enough

Check your credit card’s travel protections, too. According to Ed Perkins, “Several premium credit cards include baggage coverage, provided you pay the entire trip cost with the card. The American Express Green Card, for example, covers replacement cost, not just depreciated cost, and it even covers up to $1,250 for carry-on baggage. This is a no-charge extra. Many Mastercard and Visa credit cards also offer similar benefits, depending on the issuing bank.”

Trip Cancellation Insurance Only Covers Select Reasons

Trip cancellation insurance is a good coverage option when you’ve paid a substantial amount of money for a getaway and wouldn’t be able to comfortably absorb the financial loss if your trip fell through. If things don’t work out, you’ll at least get your nonrefundable, prepaid travel costs back.

It’s important to note, though, that you’ll only get a payout if your travel plans are canceled for reasons listed in the policy. For example, the OneTrip Cancellation Plus plan from Allianz Travelcovers trips canceled for a range of reasons, including illness or injury to you or a travel companion, the loss of your job, and a natural disaster that prevents you from getting to your destination. Not on the list? If your family member has a baby, if you get a new job voluntarily and can no longer take the time off for vacation, or if your pet falls ill.

You can protect yourself against any conceivable reason for cancellation with a cancel-for-any-reason policy.

Read the Fine Print

This one’s a given, but it’s one of the ultra-important things to know about travel insurance: Read the fine print. In the unlikely event that you’ll have to use your travel insurance policy, you want nothing to come as a surprise. For example, depending on the policy, hurricane coverage doesn’t apply if you buy the insurance after the storm in question has been named; that’s a bit of (seemingly arbitrary) fine print that could essentially nullify a policy purchased too late. Take the time to read the details of your plan and become familiar with the documentation you might need when submitting a claim. Take note of coverage limits and exclusions.

Many travel insurance plans come with a review period; this is a grace period during which you can look over your policy and make adjustments.

You Might Be Covered Under Your Current Health Plan

Check your health insurance policy to see whether you’re covered for medical care in a foreign country. Some plans offer full coverage abroad; others offer spotty coverage; and still others, such as Medicare and Medicaid, don’t provide much medical coverage outside of the U.S. at all.

If you lack adequate medical coverage overseas, consider a travel insurance policy with primary or secondary medical coverage. A primary policy will function as your go-to coverage in the event of accident or illness, whereas a secondary plan can be used as a backup to a health insurance policy that offers limited overseas coverage.

An Evacuation Plan Could Be a Good Idea

Various firms offer Travel Safety Planning and training such as SERAPH. Some insurance plans are evacuation plans; that is, in the event you need medical care, your insurance provider will pay for the costs of getting you to a hospital. If you suffer a serious illness or accident while abroad in a remote location, the most expensive component of treatment will likely be evacuation. Depending on where you are, it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly you to a hospital or your home country for emergency treatment; an evacuation plan will cover these costs.

There are two things you should know about this benefit: First, evacuation policies may only cover the costs of transportation to the hospital—not your medical expenses. Second, you may not be able to choose your hospital. While some policies offer a “hospital of choice” option that allows you to pick a preferred hospital, others don’t and will simply take you to the nearest facility deemed appropriate by the insurance company. As always, read the fine print.

Aggregator Sites Can Help You Shop

An easy way to compare plans when shopping for insurance is to use an online agency that functions as an aggregator. On such sites, you’ll enter details about yourself and your trip and get a results list of suggested policies. Check out sites like InsureMyTrip and Squaremouth, both of which allow users to perform side-by-side comparisons of different travel insurance plans and to read customer reviews.

CAROLINE COSTELLO