Every traveler begins her journey with a complex web of connections, coupled with dreams of blue skies, unlimited horizons, fair weather and unlimited upgrades.
But, as in everything in life, risk and reward live together and in this complex fine print driven world we all live and travel in the “devil truly is in the details.”
You are out there in the wilds ready to re-enact your favorite Bear Gryll’s survival technique and you hear the dreaded words: “your luggage did not make it…..”
Or, worse, “we have no idea what kind of fungus this is and we may need to put you in quarantine for a few days…”
But to practical discussion. Many will tell you traveling without travel insurance has too much risk and not enough reward.
Travel insurance exists to protect you from the slings and arrows of modern travel: lost or stolen luggage, medical issue on the road, unforeseen mishaps of just about any kind – it can take the sting out of potentially serious issues that can ruin a trip or your financial position, if it’s serious.
Practical Drivers for Taking the Plunge and Buying Travel Insurance
Most travelers have a tendency to buy insurance if they believe their may or could have a problem out there on the road that’s unforeseen and significant.
For many of you it’s the smart thing to do – your dropping some serious money on a trip and spending $100-200. in travel insurance is really not a significant cost vs. the level of protection you will receive.
Like everything in life, getting comprehensive travel insurance is about perspective. If you”re on a Rick Steves tour of Europe and staying at five star hotels it may be a wash.
But, if you are heading into the deep jungle with no guide and a satellite phone it’s probably going to be a good buy. Again: #perspective should be your guide.
In most cases travel insurance is sold in grouped packages that combine various types of coverage. So, work through these carefully to figure out what “maps” (sorry for the pun) to your concerns, where you are going and what you are doing.
If a single source package doesn’t seem like a “fit” then go with an a la carte option and get a customized package.
On a serious note, medical treatment varies significantly depending on where you are going – if you get stuck in a situation where you have to be medievacked off the side of a mountain, or out of a region with no access via land, it can put a serious dent in your finances.
Of course, if your regular health insurance provider covers you outside the country you may be fine; but, for Medicate participants and citizens of countries not covered by national health insurers, you will probably need supplemental travel insurance.
Critical Option You Should Weigh Prior to Boarding
As above, dear traveler, the devil is in the details. So, don’t multitask this with a carrier on a land line and your smartphone logged in to Instagram.
Pay attention, these details are important and you need to overlay your trip with the carrier in a meaningful way. The Pacific Crest Trail or a hike on the Nepali Coast is not the same as going up the Amazon in a dugout with no guide. #stuffhappens
Go Deep and Long if You are out there on the Frontier You can get unlimited medical coverage from some providers and a lower cost policy might just cover up to $1M.
You are much better off going with the more expensive premium. Put your carrier through the wringer if you are gong to some place off the beaten path.
Know if you are Covered with Reciprocal Healthcare Some countries have agreements with other countries, you may be entitled to free or reciprocal coverage if their is reciprocity between the countries.
Are All or Some of Your Belongings Covered? If your iPad falls into the Thames are you covered? Is your luggage covered for theft and damage of any kind, are electronic devices covered – get the details from your provider, they are obligated to walk you through the fine print.
What does “Cancellation” Mean? With many providers you can define the amount of coverage based on a specific event that prevents you from traveling – look for a policy that covers the full cost of your trip and any incremental costs. Like all things in business, a higher amount triggers a more costly premium.
Provider Insolvency If your provider goes out of business while you are traveling make sure you have a minimum of $250K in coverage and this can be an exotic clause for some providers and your airline should be factored into this coverage.
Car Rental Coverage In most cases mainstream coverage bundled with the car rental may not cover all of your costs if you are involved in an accident. And, in many/many cases you will probably have to get double coverage with the car rental company and a provider.
The coverage can be complex and be aware personal liability provided by your rental agency will have some limitation. Supplement this with a provider once you know what the variables are.
Personal Liability Coverage This should be $2-3M at a minimum and you want blanket coverage that prevents someone from suing you for any type of exotic or weird happenstance.
Be Prepared for Challenges Travel with emergency numbers and contacts and keep a copy of these on you physically in case you are injured and unconscious and don’t rely on information backed up on a device, paper is better.
Keep Your Paperwork if you have a problem be diligent in keeping all receipts, police reports, hotel records, whatever else you need to substantiate a claim.
Be safe, have a great time and shop around for travel insurance and make sure you get localized comprehensive coverage that fits your travel plans.