Chuck Groot Financial Consulting

Travel Insurance — To Buy or Not to Buy?

Are you a gambler? Do you like rolling the dice? Playing the odds? Then travelling should not be in the cards, particularly abroad.

The universe abounds in horror stories of people going travelling, and in a blink of an eye, their world was turned upside down and their wallets inside out. The scary part is that it doesn’t even have to be a serious illness or injury.

Here are some of the headlines:

  • Elephant Allergy in Thailand
  • ACL Tear in Peru
  • Bronchitis & Asthma in France
  • Altitude Sickness in Nepal
  • Infected Bites in Costa Rica
  • Broken Knee in China
  • Flu in Canada
  • Falling Downstairs in Tuscany
  • Stingray Sting in San Diego

Do I need to go on? I doubt it. I have seen very weird and wacky things happen to people while travelling, and they vary from the irritating to the fatal. Will having travel insurance change that? No, but it will certainly lessen the blow.

What is travel insurance?

In simple English, travel insurance provides financial assistance when something happens. This protection can cover everything from delayed suitcases, unavoidable trip cancellation, or, heaven, forbid medical emergencies. The other major benefit is that it connects you to people you can contact who will provide information and assistance in your time of need.

Are all the plans the same?

No, you need to read the fine print and pick something that will fit your needs and your budget. Like everything else, you get what you pay for.

When and why would you buy travel insurance?

The only time you don’t need travel insurance is when your health insurance will cover you or you have a credit card that has travel insurance incorporated with it. But always check to make sure the extent of the coverage — read the fine print and exclusions.

You would always buy travel insurance if you do not have any medical insurance. Travelling from state to state or province to province, you generally are covered but not always. Check with your health insurance to make sure; you can never be too careful.

If you are travelling internationally or overseas, insurance is a must. You must always have travel insurance when taking a cruise.

What does travel insurance cover?

The key elements of buying travel insurance is for:

  • trip cancellation;
  • sickness or injury during a trip;
  • bad weather and natural disasters;
  • travel delays and unavoidable interruptions;
  • having your luggage delayed, lost, or stolen;
  • emergency medical visits and transportation;
  • pre-existing conditions;
  • terrorism;
  • change fee coverage; and/or
  • extreme sports.

Things happen, so be prepared! Make sure that the policy you are buying has the options that concern you from above and they are covered.

According to the U.S. Travel Insurance Association survey, “about one in four Americans reported their travel plans during the previous year were impacted by unforeseen events that are often covered by trip insurance, including medical conditions, adverse weather or mechanical/carrier-caused problems.”

Questions to ask:

  1. Is your plan the first payer?
  2. What if I stay longer than my plan covers?
  3. Is there an advantage to buy multiple-trip or single-trip coverage?
  4. Are there any medical conditions that are not covered?
  5. Will I be covered if I am pregnant?
  6. How easy is it to make a claim?
  7. Do you have a 24-hour help line and does it accept collect calls?
  8. Are high risk activities covered and what is the definition of a high risk activity?
  9. Are conflict zones covered?
  10. When does the policy begin and end?

Travel insurance, to buy or not to buy? The answer is YES!

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