Do I Need Travel Insurance?

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Planning on taking a trip and not sure if you need travel insurance? Well, the simple answer is yes, you need it.

It can give you medical coverage when you’re injured or sick, plus it can reimburse your if your expensive camera or smartphone is broken, if you need to return home if a family member becomes sick or injured, or if your flight is cancelled.

We always strongly advise people to get travel insurance. It only costs dollars a day. We’ve seen good insurance help us and so many other people, and we’ve also seen others regret being cheap and not getting good insurance.

Micki and Charles on Motorbike in Thailand

The two of us cruising around Thailand on a motorcycle – probably an accident waiting to happen

We’ve been grateful for  insurance when Micki had a three day hospital stay in Thailand, when our son needed stitches for his ear in Greece, and when we needed the addresses of the nearest hospitals in Quito, Ecuador.

Why you need travel insurance

So why do you need travel insurance? The same reason you need car insurance, home insurance and so forth. It’s insurance, something you need to insure that you don’t lose everything else you have in your life in case something bad happens. Without it you open yourself to a lot of unnecessary risk.

Now, you might be thinking, how much can it cost me if I don’t have insurance? I mean, you’ve traveled dozens of times and haven’t needed it. Why should you bother giving your hard earned money to some  insurance company?

Simple, no one plans for an accident to happen, that’s part of the definition of an accident. If you haven’t needed to use your travel insurance on previous excursions out of country then consider yourself fortunate. If you travel often, the odds are that sooner or later you’ll need it and hospital stays in foreign countries can easily cost you tens of thousands of dollars.

What is travel insurance

So what exactly is travel insurance? It’s a hedge bet that something will happen on your next trip that you’re not prepared for.

It might be a stolen phone or camera. It could be a sudden case of a nasty flu or it could be that a car swerves and hits a truck that unleashes a herd of geese that distracts a driver that nearly hits you and, as you back away, you fall down a flight of stairs. Now, it wasn’t the fall that hurt you, it was slipping on the ice at the bottom as you were dusting yourself off that broke your arm while you were trying to grab the handrail. The bad part is that you need to use your arm when you get home and it’s going to take 6 weeks to heal.

Some of our electronics gear

Sound too far fetched? Maybe, but that’s the nature of accidents. If they were planned, they’d be called on purposes.

Travel insurance is piece of mind

So yes, accidents happen, at home or abroad. It’s called life and it’s not simple, clean or easy. We’ve been fortunate the we only needed travel insurance a few times over the course of our travels, but it’s still something we firmly believe every traveler should carry.

Not only can a good plan give you piece of mind, the company behind it can often help guide you to a good doctor, they can help with your emergency return to your home, pay for follow up treatments in case it’s warranted, cover your lost or stolen goods, cover your cancelled flights and even pay for your hospital bills.

They can also provide money to your family should you not make it back home. Not something people like to discuss but it’s a reality whether you’re getting in the car to go to work or getting on a plane and heading to Rio. Leaving enough so your family can properly do what they need will make their lives easier in times of loss and there’s no price too high for that.

Travel insurance options

So now that you’ve decided you need travel insurance, what are your options? The good and bad side are that there are tons of options to choose from. Not only are there hundreds of companies and brokers, there are single trip plans, multi trip plans and comprehensive plans. Plans that have deductibles and plans that are deductible free. There’s cancellation insurance, liability insurance even dismemberment insurance. There are evac only plans, hostage and negotiation plans and even natural disaster only plans.

Amid all that there are different price points for each plan. So I ask again, how do you choose your travel insurance?

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

Snorkeling in the Marietas Islands, Mexico

The hard truth is there is no simple way to choose insurance. You need to decide which factors are the most important to you and how much you’re willing to pay for each service because the fact is, the more comprehensive the  insurance, the more it’s going to cost you.

Doesn’t seem fair? Well, think of it from the company that’s insuring you’s side. It’s no secret they’re into this business to make money. That’s why they have actuarial tables and the risk each person faces and the likelihood that they’ll have to pay out in case an accident occurs. They can’t offer more services without charging for it.

Get what you need

On the other side of the fence we have people that often over buy insurance. They get enough insurance that if they have to make a claim they equate it to winning a lottery. That’s not right either. To us, the purpose of travel insurance is to mitigate as much risk as possible while also realizing that sometimes bad things happen.

However, just like I don’t make my kids walk around in helmets in the odd chance they fall and hit their head, so too don’t I rely on insurance to make my life better. In this way we often plan for the worst case scenario and no matter the outcome we know we’ll be at a loss when it comes to insurance, but our family on the whole will survive.

To us that often means getting a good insurance plan with a reputable company with a little less bells and whistles than we’d need. We save on fees a ton that way, like by including a deductible on our plans. We know we don’t often end up using our  insurance and having a deductible often lowers our initial cost. That said, we know that if we do have to make a claim it will cost us a few hundred dollars. This also ensures that if we really need to use our insurance it has to be worth it.

A personal travel accident story

To give you a good example, while we were in Greece a few years back, our son slipped on a merry go round and tore his ear wide open. Seeing as Greece was in economical turmoil, the hospital was closed down so we walked to the private hospital service across the street. For $180 dollars they had him sewn up and as good as new in a few hours. Now, we could have filed a claim, but however considering our deductible was $200 there was no point. That was an acceptable cost to us and didn’t really affect us monetarily in a big way, however had he severely injured his leg, we would have happily paid the deductible and considered ourselves fortunate that we had travel insurance.

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Kos Agora Greece

Kids playing on the fallen columns at the Agora in Kos, Greece

So what’s the purpose of that story? It’s to affirm that yes, accidents happen everywhere as well as to highlight that every traveler has their own needs and what’s acceptable to them. It’s up to you to decide what’s right for you and your family.

Choosing what matters to you

If having your bags lost or stolen worries you, get baggage insurance. If you never file claims, consider increasing your deductible to save a little money. If you travel often, especially for short periods, consider getting a multi trip plan since it will save you in the long run and you won’t be having to buy travel insurance every time you leave the country.

Just like every traveler is unique, so is every plan. Make sure you compare your plan with others before deciding which one is right for you.

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