You’ve just booked a big trip, and you’re debating whether you need to shell out that additional cash for travel insurance. The trip itself is costing upwards of a thousand bucks (read on to see our case study on foreign exchange rates) and at this point, signing up for another travel insurance fee seems like a nail in the coffin that is your savings account.
Travel insurance is just a waste of money anyway! I mean it’s not like anything will happen to you while on vacation and even if it did, insurance companies make it practically impossible to collect, so why bother, right?
We’d like to take this opportunity to dispel some the six most common myths about travel insurance, so that you see just why you should never leave home without it! Psst: Travel insurance is required on group tours, so even if you think you’re invincible and want to take the risk, your tour company won’t allow you to join if you can’t present confirmation of travel insurance.
Fact: If you’re a logical person, you’ll recognize the flaw in this way of thinking. You may have travelled abroad 100 times already and never had to deal with a difficult problem. If this is your case, give yourself a pat on the back and go buy a lottery ticket, please! Unfortunately, unforeseen weather, flight delays, illness, injury or other catastrophes can very quickly and easily derail the best of travel plans. The only way to protect yourself from these unanticipated problems is to invest in a travel insurance policy that will take care of both little bumps (such as a case of lost luggage or flight delay) as well as massive derailments (such as natural disasters or repatriation).
Fact: Unless you specifically purchased an insurance policy that includes full coverage abroad, your domestic health insurance, homeowner’s insurance and credit card policies do not always cover the costs of trip cancellation, medical expenses, or in the worst case, medical evacuation abroad. Same goes for natural disasters or catastrophes that interrupt your trip. Think about it: What happens when a monsoon hits during your trip to India, preventing travel to Calcutta, where a hotel room and bus ticket are waiting for you? Tough nuggets because unless you have travel insurance, you won’t be reimbursed for those costs. In some countries it’s 100% required to have travel insurance and you will be expected to show proof of insurance when entering the country. For instance, Cuba requires all tourists to have (non-American) travel medical insurance before visiting.
Fact: The right policy will not only cover catastrophic illness, injury, disasters and repatriation costs, but it’ll also serve as a way out of a sticky situation in case something less dramatic takes place. Let’s say you’ve booked a trip to Spain for a friend’s wedding, and you’re in full excitement mode when you get an email saying that the bride has called it off. Not only is your friend, the bride, in full crisis mode somewhere right now, but you’re stuck with a flight, hotel and various additional bookings that are essentially worthless now. If you have travel insurance, you can spend your time and energy worrying about your crisis-ridden friend rather than haggling with individual vendors about refunding your ticket and booking costs. Same goes for the situation in which your luggage gets lost after a 12 hour layover in Frankfurt. Your travel insurance should ensure that, while you may never see your favourite pair of flip-flops again, you will be reimbursed for the contents of the lost luggage (up to a certain value, of course).
Fact: While it’s especially important for the skydivers, ice-climbers and spelunkers of the world to have travel insurance, they’re not the only ones that can benefit from the security that comes from buying a travel insurance policy. Sure, it seems like they’re at a statistically higher risk of finding themselves in an emergency situation but emergency situations can happen to laid-back travellers too. If your tour bus breaks down halfway between Paris and Barcelona, causing you to miss your flight the next day, you will benefit from having travel insurance. If you get robbed while on a culinary tour in Chile, you will benefit from having travel insurance. So don’t fall prey to the idea that just because you don’t have plans to jump out of any planes on your vacation, you won’t need travel insurance.
Fact: For Americans, this one is partially true. It may seem like you may be able to get a heart transplant or a hip replacement abroad for the cost of an x-ray at home. But if you’re travelling to any developing countries, the old adage of “you pay for what you get” definitely applies. If you need stitches on your knee after falling off your bike in Bali, your travel insurance ensures that you qualify for a treatment standard “equivalent to home,” a.k.a. sanitized utensils, safely-packaged pain medication and the like. This helps negate the risk of infection through being treated in a medical facility in the developing world, so that you won’t have to evacuated home when your knee wound festers and turns into a full-blown blood infection.
Fact: If you wait to purchase travel insurance until after booking the rest of your trip, all of the x-factors that come into play while traveling could come back to bite you. For example, if you book those expensive flights to Paris now, hold off on buying the insurance, and then end up cancelling when your partner comes down with mononucleosis two weeks before departure, you can wave au revoir to not only your Parisian adventure but your cash money too!
At a relatively minimal cost to you, travel insurance can not only give you a leg to stand on in a multitude of sketchy situations, but it can also provide an irreplaceable peace of mind to anyone embarking on an adventure abroad. Shell out that little bit of extra dough and protect yourself from the myriad unexpected circumstances that plague travellers all too often. It’s always better to spend 80 bucks on travel insurance that you don’t use than to waste thousands due to lack of proper preparation!