plane taking off
The truth is, if you decide to opt out of getting travel insurance, it may become one of your biggest travel regrets.
Photo Credit: iStockPhoto / MauritsVink

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance Is a Travel Necessity

It’s a beautiful day in Paris and you’re on a cycling tour of the Palace of Versailles. Distracted by the sunlight gleaming on the water in the garden pools, your foot slips off the pedal of your bicycle and gets jammed in your front wheel.

You careen over the handlebars, stretching your arms out to break your fall. Landing roughly on the gravel path, you immediately feel a dull ache in your wrist that quickly begins to throb, making you dizzy with the pain.

A trip to the emergency room confirms: you’ve broken the bone. Not only will your injury put a damper on your explorations in Europe, you will be faced with a pricey bill from a French hospital.

The truth is that accidents can happen all the time — even when you are traveling. If you hurt yourself at home, you will be protected by your normal health insurance.

However, when you get injured abroad you are at the mercy of whatever the local hospital charges a foreign patient without insurance. Depending on the country, that unexpected expense can blow your budget or possibly even bankrupt you (looking at you, USA).

So whether you fall out of a tuk tuk in Thailand, wipe out on your surfboard in Nicaragua or get bitten by bedbugs in Colombia, it’s always worth it to have travel insurance.

Why You Should Always Have Travel Insurance

Do you need travel insurance? The truth is, if you decide to opt out of getting travel insurance, it may become one of your biggest travel regrets. Here’s what insurance can do for you:

  • Travel insurance protects you from other things that could go wrong, such as flight cancellations, lost luggage, theft and much more.
  • If your luggage is lost and you don’t have any clothes during your trip, you can buy yourself something to wear and get it covered on your travel insurance.
  • In the event of a natural disaster or act of terrorism most airlines will not refund your ticket, but the refund may be covered on travel insurance.
  • If you are involved in a serious accident and need medical evacuation, this can cost thousands if you are not covered by travel insurance.
  • Some travel insurance companies will offer you assistance in your own language to find a suitable hospital if you hurt yourself.
  • If something comes up and you have to cancel your trip, travel insurance will often cover this.
  • If your flight is cancelled the travel insurance company can help you to find a new one and sometimes even cover your stay at the airport hotel if necessary.
  • Many travel insurance policies cover financial default, so you can get your money back if the travel company files bankruptcy and cancels your tour.
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How to Find the Right Travel Insurance for You

There are many policies to choose from, so how do you find the right one for you? First, you want to make sure the plan has a high coverage limit on all of your medical expenses.

A good insurance policy should cover you for up to at least $100,000 in care, but some will cover you for more.

As well, make sure the policy will cover emergency care and evacuation. For example, if you are off on a safari in the middle of nowhere and you get injured, your policy will need to cover the cost of air-lifting you to hospital.

It should also cover lost, damaged or stolen possessions as well as cancellations.

Think about what you usually carry with you on your travels. If you have an expensive camera or laptop, make sure that the policy limit on electronics will cover it.

You will also need to consider what you plan to be doing on your trip. If you will be enjoying outdoor activities such as white-water rafting, surfing, hiking or scuba diving, make sure you read the fine print of the policy to check that those activities are covered.

Also of importance is how easy it is to make a claim. Can you do it quickly online or is it a complicated process with a lot of paperwork?

Don’t necessarily go for the cheapest insurance, even if you are travelling on a budget. You get what you pay for and an incredibly cheap policy might not offer you the coverage you need if you have to make a claim.

Take a look at the different options and choose the one that offers you the best possible coverage for the type of trip you are taking and the activities you will be doing. Then, enjoy your travels knowing that if anything goes wrong you will be covered.

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