Think about the last time you rented a car.
Did you take the optional insurance?
Do you see that particular 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 particularly strong opinions on rental car insurance (the best thing to do is consult with your auto insurance agent on what your personal coverage is and what exactly is covered).
Now, 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.
Trust me... I've heard all the objections, all the reasons, of why travel insurance isn't necessary. I used to think the same until I started in this industry and quickly became aware of what routinely goes awry. Then it became personal... and I needed it myself.
"I've never used it before, I doubt I'll need it now."
"I'm going on this vacation no matter what!"
“We know we aren’t going to cancel so we don’t need cancellation insurance.”
Truthfully, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a client speak those words, I’d be jet setting the world monthly and probably writing my blogs from a luxury villa on the beach in Bora Bora!
Let me be very 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 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. Did you know certain companies will work on your behave, with the airlines to track down your lost luggage? Yup, and from what I've experienced they have some inside connections, not at a call center overseas, to expedite this. Keep on them, and do everything they can to get it to you as soon as reasonably possible.
“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. Check your policy very 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, or they will guarantee payment on your behalf.
Have you seen the numerous GoFundMe pleas on Facebook? I have. Many of them. Like a four-wheeler accident in Costa Rica that left a person in the hospital recovering for weeks. Only to be held until the bill was paid in full. Or the traveler with a medical emergency onboard a cruise ship. Medivaced to the nearest medical facility, on an island, in the Caribbean, with dealing with getting home on their own. And the worst... a traveler passes away during their trip. Leaving the family with the task of figuring out how to repatriate their remains from a foreign destination. It happens. All the time! And God forbid it happens to you or a loved one, I hope that you are prepared.
While I do sympathize with their situations, many that I have seen could have been avoided with a good travel insurance policy purchased in a timely matter.
So, 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 to sign a waiver if they choose to decline to purchase a travel insurance policy for every single trip that I book.
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? Definitely think about this. I have seen real cases that cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars to treat and fly the patient back to their home state in a special aircraft with trained medical professionals during the entire flight.
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.
You, a travel companion or someone at home has a chronic medical condition – many travel insurance policies 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 your trip).
Having been in the travel industry for over 13 years, I have seen many heart-breaking situations occur. From my clients to colleague's clients, to family and friends that chose to book on their own and were not even aware of the importance of travel insurance. And the multitude of people affected by unpredictable weather around the globe. There are a number of things beyond our control at any given moment. Have a solid, reliable insurance policy can assist and navigating those situations a bit easier.
Bottom line... Travel is an investment. You’ve likely saved for your vacation for quite some time. You are taking your most-loved family members with you or will be leaving them behind with people you trust. Be sure you are making a smart decision in how you want to protect that investment and them! Take the time to review and discuss your travel insurance needs before each trip.
I am here to assist you with this decision. Help you to select the best option for your individual situation, help to protect your precious investment, and make your vacation is effortless, enjoyable and smooth as possible.