We never forget to get ourselves home insurance, life insurance, health insurance, and car insurance to protect ourselves from the unforeseen. Then why not also get travel insurance, while travelling? You can get travel insurance for as little as $US2.50 per day, but it’s the most imperative thing you hope you’ll never need. No matter for how long you are going away, it's a 'must have'.
Although travel insurance might be a very confusing topic as you can hear things like, “Just travel with light stuff that you can afford to replace and don’t worry about losing your bags” or “Insurance companies always tell you horror stories to get you to buy a travel insurance.”
While the last comment is blatantly true, you also should know that insurance companies do have to deal with thousands of emergencies and evacuations, but, you should also know that without an insurance coverage these emergencies and evacuations might cost a great deal out-of-pocket.
It's a nightmare to imagine yourself seriously ill or injured in a foreign country, but the last thing you need is not having a financial support to help you get treated and flown home.
While there are many misconceptions about what travel insurance really is and what it really does, I will discuss the most common queries about travel insurance.
What is travel insurance?
Just like any other insurance, it provides emergency care when things unpredictably go wrong while you’re on a trip. Depending on the policy you buy, it can provide cover for lost luggage, a fall while hiking, a popped eardrum while scuba diving, getting a parasite, or the need to cancel or cut your trip short. But don’t take it as an open checkbook to supplement your trip expenses, or a license to be crazy.
Are travel insurance and health insurance policies similar?
Honestly speaking, travel insurance can provide so much more than just health cover. While there is certainly a medical section for sudden illnesses and accidental injuries, travel insurance can also cover you for trip cancellation, trip disruptions, loss or theft of your gadgets, as well as emergency transference you need to get to the nearest hospital fast. It’s intended to be there for accidents (both health and non-health linked) and unexpected events you never thought could happen to you!!
Can I get treated for an illness I already have?
No. Most travel insurance policies don’t cover pre-existing conditions. If you get sick on your trip, yes, travel insurance is there for you. But if you need medical assistance for an ongoing chronic disease or a medical condition you have before purchasing the policy, you could be out of luck. Moreover, if you are under one policy and get sick, and then you start a new policy, in most cases your illness will be considered as a pre-existing condition and you won’t get coverage under the new policy.
My credit card offers some protection. Isn’t that good enough?
Even the best credit cards offer very limited protection. Very few offer coverage for lost or stolen stuff, medical expenditures, and trip termination if only you booked your trip with the card. Or bought those items with credit card, or paid for medical transactions with the card, but they may not cover you being flown home in the case of a medical emergency. You may also not be covered unless the policy has been activated before your trip. And, if they do cover something, the limit may be so low that you’ll be shocked to pay the difference. Conclusion: don’t rely on credit card coverage.
[Read our previous blog : Will My Cell Phone Work In Australia?]
How does the insurance actually work?
For major medical emergencies needing overnight hospitalization or emergency deportation, you (or someone else) would need to contact the emergency assistance team to help you make preparations and pre-approve costs. For all other situations, including day admission to hospital, you may need to pay out-of-pocket and then submit documentation to the insurance company after the fact. Be sure to keep all documentation, necessary police reports, and all receipts as companies only reimburse based on the evidence you provide.
We read online reviews. All companies suck. What’s up with that?
To that I’d say, most people don’t read the fine print of their policy. Do you know anyone who has ever read his iTunes agreement? Exactly. People don’t read the exact wording, and make assumptions about coverage. And when something goes wrong, they scream bloody murder for something isn’t covered to support their claim and write a nasty review online.
But let me remind you that this reimbursement process is no fun. It’s a lot of paperwork, but when you have all your ducks in a row, you get compensated. Reviews by users who didn’t read their policy carefully, doesn’t make insurance a bad idea. It just means people don’t follow instructions.
If I get drunk and get injured, will I be covered?
Possibly not. Let’s just say you’re unlikely to get compensated if you’re tanked and decide to play chicken in the middle of the road. That’s not to say that the insurance companies expect you to be sober for your entire trip, but if you're doing something silly (drinking or not), insurance companies will determine if putting yourself at unnecessary risk led to the injury. If, after investigating, they find you did, they can deny your claim.
So, don’t be a chump!
Does travel insurance apply for seniors?
Insurance companies view seniors as high risk and don’t like covering for them, so it’s a lot harder for older travelers to find inclusive coverage. However, a few companies have some limited policy for seniors.
Note: Be sure to read the fine print of your policy to find out what is and isn’t covered. Policy conditions vary greatly from company to company, state to state and country to country. So, read them and go with the company that gives you what you need!
I’ve always used travel insurance and it’s helped me, my friends, my clients and readers of this website. So, I can’t emphasize its reputation enough. I hope you never have to use it, but, if you do, you’ll be happy that you bought it. So, like a responsible adult, be prepared.