Do or Don’t? Travel Insurance Edition

I have travelled a lot during my lifetime, but I have to admit that I didn’t know about the concept of travel insurance until after an embarrassing amount of trips. Many people think that travel insurance is just an added expense to a trip and that they don’t really need it because everything will be okay, and those people would probably be accurate; but it takes just that one time for something to go wrong for you to wish you got that extra bit of cushion to cover a plethora of problems that could arise.

Travel insurance isn’t just for lost baggage or when you need to change something in your itinerary, the most crucial part of this extra assistance is if heaven forbid something were to happen to you while you are on your trip. There are four key elements to travel insurance, and we are going to break it down for you one by one:

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Medical

If you decide to get travel insurance, let this be the reason. Most of us don’t realize how much money it would cost us if we got injured while abroad and would need some form of emergency evacuation, hospitalization, medication, and basically any form of treatment. The cost of a hospital stay just in the US is $10,000 a day, while emergency evacuation and treatment can easily cost you more than $100,000.

These numbers are astonishing, to say the least, and we obviously don’t wish any harm to come to anyone, but if this were to happen to you and you did not have the forethought to get travel insurance, you are looking at some serious debt. Travel insurance costs vary (we will get to the cost comparison a little later), and is worth every penny when considering it could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees if something were to happen to you.

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Cancellations

Life is unpredictable, and as such, travel insurance has your back. Many travel insurance policies cover (at least in part) trip cancellations in case of emergency – death in the family or illness. The trick to this part is that you need to get your travel insurance when you book your initial flights in order to have the insurance apply for your nonrefundable plane tickets (which is what most of us get- cheaper and all that). Some travel insurance doesn’t cover this section at the base price, but with an added daily amount they will add it to your policy.

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Baggage

This is the most common issue we face as travelers – lost baggage. This is the reason most people get travel insurance; there is little more frustrating than arriving at your destination, or home, to find that your suitcase is somewhere else. Most of the time the airline will recover the baggage after a couple of days and send it to where you are staying, but those times when they entirely lost your luggage is when travel insurance really kicks in. When applying for the policy, you declare how much your bags are worth, if for some unlucky reason they get lost, the insurance company will reimburse you for the amount of your luggage. While it doesn’t bring back what you had in your bags, it does make it slightly more bearable.

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Liability

This section is one that is a perk, if you will. What liability means is if you get into a car accident or any form of altercation while abroad, this clause will pay for the legal fees incurred by the situation. While you should ALWAYS have car insurance, for instance, especially when renting a car, the liability clause will not cover the damage, but will cover your liability and solicitor fees.

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As much as these four reasons are more than enough to get travel insurance, there are those, like me, who decide to opt for the medical part alone. You can easily get free medical insurance for your trip via your credit card (American Express, MasterCard and VISA customers), or for an additional fee you can get your own personal medical insurance through your personal insurance company.

There are ways to figure out if it is worth it for you to get just medical or the full travel insurance package. For one, the length of your trip is factor. If you are planning on going abroad for over a month, travel insurance is probably a better idea for you, as the longer you are away the more could go wrong. Secondly, the location of your travels. I know many people who have gone on six-month trips to the far East – India, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, etc. and they all opted for travel insurance, rightly so. Those places not only have a vastly different medical system than the Western world, but there is also the issue of the language barrier and rural geography to consider; there is a major difference if you are going to India on a trip for months or going to Paris for a couple of weeks.

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The best way to compare the massive amount of companies offering travel insurance and within them the various policies they propose, is to go or sites like World Nomads and Insure My Trip and plug in your trip information; they will provide you with everything you need – from medical plans, cancellation options, and liability policies. If you are someone who worries, taking out travel insurance is not only easing fate, but easing your worries as well. Many people decide against travel insurance just because of the cost, not that it is much if you are comparing it to how much you are likely to spend if something does go wrong (hence the comment on the worrier). At the end of the day, there are a lot of factors to consider when looking into travel insurance, as stated above.

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You also have the option of customizing your travel insurance to fit your needs even more. Most travel insurance is offered in packages, but there are companies who will break apart each element of the policy and allow you to pick and choose what works best for you. This customization is best for those experienced travelers who know the do’s and don’ts of where they are traveling to, especially if we are talking about travelers who are going on long and rough treks through mountains and various other terrains. Like we mentioned before, not all travel is created equal, and you are most likely going to look into travel insurance if you are going on a longer and more remote trip than one that is ‘comfortable’ and common.