By Marci Clark
When preparing for vacation there are a million things to consider: when and where to go, what to pack, stopping mail and newspaper delivery, keeping your home safe while away…the list goes on. But one thing many of us overlook is travel insurance.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is just as it sounds: a nice warm security blanket that offers financial reimbursement for lost luggage, delays due to bad weather, and even reimbursement if your trip must be cancelled for an unforeseen reason.
If you become ill or are injured while on the road, travel insurance offers coverage for healthcare and medical evacuation. Imagine trying to pay the cost of an ambulance or helicopter to transport you for immediate care out of pocket—or worse, a private air ambulance or a block of seats on a commercial flight to bring you home.
As a bonus: travel insurance also offers 24-hour assistance in finding doctors, accommodations, and contacting family members in case of emergency.
A Crucial Investment
Though it may feel like an unnecessary expense, travel insurance is crucial—unforeseen injuries, accidents and illnesses happen and having a safety net can save a lot of stress and concern. You’ll also have some peace of mind knowing your financial investment will be reimbursed if the trip is cancelled or cut short.
But what if you know your trip is definitely going to happen? Well…
- You may become ill
- Someone you love may have an accident and you simply cannot leave
- The weather could delay your flight and cause you to miss your cruise ship
- You might need legal assistance while abroad
- Something could prevent you from catching the last flight home for the night, leaving you with nowhere to go
As you can see, all kinds of situations from small, annoying instances to larger emergencies can pop up and put a real dent in your travel plans.
A Note about Medical Coverage
Many standard health insurance providers do not offer coverage outside of their country of purchase, or even over international waters. Medical evacuation often is not covered either, meaning if you are ill or injured and need and ambulance or require special accommodations to return home, your regular health insurance provider likely won’t cover that cost. A cost that could extend beyond thousands of dollars. Consider looking into travel health insurance to supplement your own personal plan before embarking on your journey.
Choosing a Travel Insurance Provider
When deciding which travel insurance provider to go with, you should consider the following:
- If you might have any preexisting conditions that could alter coverage
- What types of circumstances are covered—for example, some providers may not cover claims due to civil disturbances or terrorist attacks
- Whether you’re still covered if the insurance provider goes out of business while you are traveling
- If it covers injury or cancellation for your entire trip, including air travel, cruise ship, and tour packages
The average cost for travel insurance ranges from four to eight percent of the trip total, with variations based on the trip length, age and health of the policyholder, and the destination. Frequent travelers may look ahead to purchase insurance annually as part of their regular coverage. Travel insurance can easily be purchased from travel agents, suppliers, private firms and brokers, or online. If you’re considering buying insurance from a business you haven’t worked with before, be sure to research the company, as you would with any important purchase, to verify the legitimacy of their coverage.
No matter how you look at it, whether as coverage for the trip itself or backup medical insurance just in case, travel insurance is just common sense security.
Now it’s your turn—post your favorite (or least favorite, as the case may be) providers in the comments below!