Let’s say you are an expert traveller. You can cleverly navigate airports and fill out custom cards even with your eyes closed. You can even be packed and ready to go for a quick weekend getaway in a matter of minutes. However, there is still one part of the travel experience that surely continues to challenge you – how to choose travel insurance. But before you dig in deeper, check out 5 of the most common travel insurance myths and truths. These should make you a better traveller and help you to choose the best travel insurance for your trip.
Travel Insurance Myths & Truths
The Myth: The travel medical coverage through your work benefits and/or credit card is all that you need.
The Truth: Sure, you already have travel medical coverage through the aforementioned channels. However, keep in mind that additional non-medical travel insurance may always be necessary. This is why you need to check your existing coverage carefully, so you can ensure that it covers everything you need or want.
The Myth: It is difficult to purchase or choose travel insurance because it is nothing but a complicated and lengthy process.
The Truth: This is where you are completely wrong. Most plans nowadays can be processed or even purchased in different ways, such as online or over the phone, among others. And mind you, all of these can be done in a matter of minutes. The same thing can be said for plans that require information about your health.
The Myth: The airlines are the ones covering delays.
The Truth: Not always. In the EU, if your flight has been delayed by at least three hours or cancelled then you have the right to compensation under European law. However, airlines don’t always have to pay out and can avoid doing so if the delay is caused by an extraordinary circumstance, such as bad weather or crew strikes – which seems to be happening a lot in Europe lately! In this case, airlines still have a duty of care to provide accommodation, meals and refreshments, and transport between the accommodation. However, they will pay the minimum they can get away with, and outside of Europe these rules do not apply. Travel insurance, on the other hand, will reimburse you irrecoverable and unused accommodation, travel, and other pre-paid charges involved.
The Myth: Travel insurance will cost a fortune so it is prohibitively expensive.
The Truth: Travel insurance has become affordable these days. There are tons of ways for you to save on coverage costs. Besides, the coverage you need might not even be as expensive as you think. It would cost you more to pay for medical care abroad than getting travel insurance. It is absolutely well worth a few extra pounds.
The Myth: Going to Europe means being covered by the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
The Truth: The EHIC card is not a substitute for travel insurance, as it will not always cover your medical costs. Neither will it cover the cost of your family or relatives flying nor their accommodation, as well as the money needed to return home when they are deemed not fit to travel.
Consider yourself warned. Remember that ignoring the myths and knowing the truth will help you become a more informed traveller and better consumer.
Why You Need Travel Insurance
Still not convinced? I count myself lucky as I have only needed to make an insurance claim once, when I had my laptop, passport & phone stolen in Ecuador. Without my travel insurance I would have been left $500 out of pocket – which is a lot of a backpacker’s budget in South America! I never travel without insurance, so you shouldn’t either.
To be honest though, theft isn’t the main benefit of insurance to me, the real costs come if you get sick. Imagine being thousands of miles away from home and needing urgent medical care. You slip and fall on a hike and need airlifting to the nearest hospital. Do you think a helicopter is cheap? A mosquito bite turns into Dengue Fever or Malaria would you want to risk paying for that out of your own pocket? Your health is the most important thing, do you really want to risk that for the sake of a few quid?
Things to Remember when Looking for Travel Insurance
Check the coverage carefully. Are you covered for all the activities you want to do? Hiking the Inca trail for example is considered as a higher risk as you will go above 4000m, so make sure you are covered. Other ‘extreme’ sports such as diving, horse riding, skiing, etc. may not be covered either.
Don’t lie. They will know! If you have gone to the trouble of getting travel insurance, make sure you complete the application form accurately. If you do need to make a claim and the insurance company finds out you fibbed about your existing health issues or anything else, they may not honour your claim.
If you are travelling for a long period, can you extend the coverage? Most ‘usual’ travel insurance only covers you for a limited number of days away from home – perhaps 30 or 60 days. If you are backpacking without any fixed itinerary, you need special coverage for longer, and you may need to extend the validity of your coverage if your plans change. Not all companies allow this.
Read the fine print, read the fine print, read the fine print. So important I wanted to say it three times! Yes, it is hard to understand and not the most fun way to spend your time, but the details of the coverage and fine print are really important. You may not be covered if you travel to countries where your government advises against travel, and you may not be covered if you have an accident while drunk or under the influence of drugs. Make sure you know before you go!
Make sure you have a copy of your coverage with you, a digital copy on your email, and a copy with a trusted emergency contact back home, so they have all the details to hand should you need their help.
All that said, travel insurance is just a small part of your trip. Important, but small, so get covered and you can relax and enjoy your trip!
Have you ever claimed on your insurance? Or needed to claim? but didn’t get insurance? I’d love to hear your travel insurance successes and nightmares!
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