Think about the last time you rented a car.
Did you take the optional insurance?
Do you see that insurance as a good investment or a waste of money? It seems like a good percentage of travelers say no to this optional upgrade for a variety of reasons.
The most common reasons are that they believe themselves to be a “good driver” and that they have car insurance at home that will cover them in a rental car… or that the credit card they used to pay for the rental offers additional coverage as well.
I don’t have strong opinions on rental car insurance, but when it comes to travel insurance, I’m always ready to hop up on my soapbox and let my clients know what I think!
I, like any travel professional worth their salt, recommend travel insurance to each and every one of my clients. Unfortunately, most travelers don’t understand what the policy covers and when they really should be spending the extra money to purchase travel insurance.
“We know we aren’t going to cancel so we don’t need cancellation insurance.”
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a client speak those words, I’d be jet setting the world and probably writing this from a luxury villa on the beach in the Bora Bora!
Let me be clear, travel insurance is so much more than cancellation insurance! In fact, as a travel professional, it’s my opinion that the “cancellation” part of your policy is one of the least important things to consider!
While there are simple cancellation insurance policies available, true travel insurance covers so many things that you probably aren’t even thinking of when you book your vacation. Things like travel delays, lost luggage, lost or stolen valuables, medical emergencies (for a member of your travel party or a loved one at home), dental emergencies, evacuations, lost travel documents, and more.
“We have health insurance coverage so we’ll be fine.”
That’s another comment I hear often, and while that may be true if you are traveling within the US, more than likely it isn’t going to help for international travel.
It is highly unlikely that your regular health insurance will cover anything at all if you are outside of the US. (Your passport even states taht Medicare will not cover you outside of the United States.) Check your policy carefully before you decide to rely on it for international travel. Even if it provides some coverage, you will probably be required to pay for any treatment or medication out of pocket and then file for reimbursement when you return. A good travel insurance policy will usually allow the doctor or hospital to bill them directly up to your coverage limitations.
There are certain situations where I believe travel insurance should be considered a must. I feel so strongly about this that I ask my clients in these situations to sign a waiver if they choose to decline to purchase a travel insurance policy.
- International travel – A medical or dental emergency abroad can be financially devastating. Many hospitals will collect your passport at admission and will not return it until your bill has been paid. Do you have the financial resources to handle a medical emergency should one arise?
- Cruises – While there is a doctor on board every cruise ship, the ship’s infirmary can only handle simple things. Should you have a medical emergency, you would need to be evacuated off of the ship by helicopter. Onboard a cruise ship, a medical emergency can be something as simple as a broken ankle. The cost of evacuation from the ship is typically in the tens of thousands of dollars… and it won’t be covered by your health insurance even if you are evacuated to a US port. (See article: Couple says cruise ship abandoned them in Mexico during medial emergency)
- You, a travel companion or someone at home has a chronic medical condition – Travel insurance will cover cancellation for illness or injury of a member of your travel party or a family member at home. The decision to stay home and lose potentially thousands of dollars in nonrefundable fees can make an already stressful situation even worse. Better to be able to get those fees reimbursed and plan your travel for a better time. (NOTE: make sure to check your travel insurance policy for any pre-existing condition terms. There are policies available that waive these clauses if purchased within a specified time frame after booking).
A client of ours had declined travel insurance then broke his leg shortly after making final payment. He decided to go on his river cruise. The ship’s crew had to help him on and off the ship because he was in a full let cast. One crew member asked him why he hadn’t cancelled. His answer, I didn’t buy travel inurance and would have had to forfeit the money I paid, so here I am.
Travel is an investment. You’ve likely saved for your vacation for quite some time. Be sure you are making a smart decision in how you want to protect that investment! Take the time to review and discuss your travel insurance needs before each trip. What are your thoughts on travel insurance? Please comment below.