You’ve saved your money, spent hours choosing a destination, requested your time off and booked your trip. There’s one more thing you might want to consider, travel insurance.
There are two trains of thought when it comes to purchasing travel insurance: “it’s money wasted” or “it’s money well-spent.” Most of us fall into one category or the other—me, I’m in the “it’s money well-spent” group. I’m not here to change your mind, one way or the other, just to let you know a little bit more about travel insurance. I’ll let you make your own decision about whether or not to purchase it.
There are two basic types of insurance to be aware of. You may save money by purchasing a package insurance that includes both these insurances plus extras such as baggage insurance and trip accident insurance.
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance
This insurance will reimburse you if you have to cancel your trip unexpectedly or if you fall ill during your trip and end up not being able to use any prepaid arrangements. Things to be aware of:
- You will only be reimbursed if your reason for canceling falls into the insurance company’s list of acceptable reasons. “I’ve changed my mind” doesn’t count! Be aware of any clauses about “preexisting conditions” and make sure they don’t apply to you before you purchase the insurance.
- The cost of your insurance depends on how much you stand to lose if you cancel your trip. The more expensive your trip, the more expensive the insurance.
- Make sure you know what the cancellation fees are and when they come into effect on each piece of your trip. If your airline ticket is fully refundable there’s no point in insuring it, or, if you can cancel it and get a credit, valid for a year, you might want to think about whether or not it’s necessary to cover it.
- Most tour companies will have cancellation fees in effect from the minute you pay your deposit. This isn’t an effort to be mean or penalize you; it’s because the tour operator has to pay a deposit to the hotel, international tour operator or airport transfer company in order to hold your space. The tour company stands to lose money if you cancel and the non-refundable amount of your tour covers its expenses. The closer you get to departure, the higher the cancellation fee.
Medical and Emergency Evacuation Insurance
This insurance will reimburse you for unexpected medical situations that may occur while you’re away from home. Things to be aware of when purchasing are:
- The cost of your insurance will depend on a number of factors, such as how long you’ll be traveling, your age and where you’ll be traveling. Some insurance companies may not insure you once you reach a specific age or may be very expensive to do so.
- Be sure you read the list of inclusions and exclusions in the policy before you purchase. Some insurance companies will cover activities such as deep-sea diving or sky-diving and some won’t. So think about your plans before you purchase a specific policy.
- A common exclusion is coverage for a preexisting medical condition. Understand the description of preexisting as it may be defined differently depending on the insurance company.
- Emergency Evacuation insurance is important when you’re traveling to remote areas such as Bhutan or Papua New Guinea. If you fall ill or break a limb when you’re off hiking the Himalayas, it would be nice to know that you have the option of being medevaced out to a hospital. When I was a travel agent, we had a client who had a heart attack aboard a cruise ship in Alaska. He had to be removed from the ship by helicopter and taken to the nearest hospital. As a Canadian seeking medical treatment in the U.S., with the helicopter rescue, his bill was over $100,000…and he had no insurance!
So, when you’re planning your next big adventure, at least consider whether or not you need travel insurance. Sure, it may cost you a few hundred dollars, but how much do you stand to lose if you don’t get it? Weigh the odds, know how much you will lose if you cancel, take a look at coverage you may already have through work or your credit card and make an informed choice.
We have now partnered with Travel Insured International so that you have ability to purchase “cancel for any reason” insurance. We HIGHLY recommend this option on your travel insurance policy (no matter who your provider is) to protect your travel investment from any future issues.