On the surface, travel insurance seems like one of those pesky little questions posed to you at the check-out time of a trip that will just add a seemingly unnecessary cost to your trip. It resembles the annoying extended warranty offered at check out on your computers, refrigerators, and other electronics and household appliances.
When asked my opinion on whether or not it is necessary, I am quick to give my honest responses because I would certainly rather someone spend their money on special dinner reservations, lavish spa treatments, and fun excursions. However, there are quite a few times that had it not been for the travel insurance purchased, my clients could have been stuck in a hospital out of the country with no funds to leave. While some countries do not even treat you if you don’t have travel insurance, others will not let you leave without paying.
Travel insurance typically costs around 5 to 7 percent of the trip cost. Most insurance companies will also charge according to the age of the travelers as well. What this really means is that if your trip is a very expensive trip you will be paying a rather high premium. In many instances this price can be worth it. Consider the fact that even if your regular health insurance policy covers you wherever you are in the world it usually has “preferred suppliers” and who wants to try to find a preferred supplier in a foreign country if they are in desperate need for medical care? It is hard enough to find those “in network” suppliers in the USA, much less trying to communicate overseas! They also do not usually offer to pay for medical evacuation and transport services that can cost between tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars!
If you purchase a good travel insurance policy, it not only protects your valuable trip in case of a family emergency or sickness, it also covers loss of baggage, (including expenses while luggage is delayed), trip delay and interruption, and even covers you if your connecting flights don’t match up. I have had clients that would have been stuck in Greece with another hotel bill to pay because their connecting flight was late. They called their 24/7 hotline for the insurance and were re-scheduled on another flight the next morning and had a complimentary hotel stay at the airport that night!
Bottom line, I recommend travel insurance for ALL trips abroad. If you have a trip in the United States that is a very expensive trip or an adventuresome trip that may include accidents or have a pre-existing medical condition that could possible cause you to need to cancel, it is definitely a necessity. Word of caution for pre-existing conditions: insurance must be purchased within 7-14 days of initiating travel.
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