Do You Really Need Travel Insurance?
A nice meal, an extra museum trip or even just a souvenir… just think of what you could do with the money you would’ve spent on travel insurance. After all, you probably wouldn’t have used it anyway—right? Maybe.
That’s true so far as it goes—most people who buy travel insurance don’t make a claim. But some people do. And others wish they could. Because getting into trouble while traveling without insurance coverage and travel assistance may result in a pretty sticky—and expensive—situation.
We'll get into some details about those situations later. But first, here are the three big questions to ask yourself.
Do you need travel insurance?
Key factors to consider:
1. How much can you afford to lose if you need to cancel your trip?
2. Does your trip include travel risks, like a lot of connections or travel to a remote or dangerous area?
Of course, other factors should be considered -- but asking these three big questions should help you decide on your travel insurance needs.
Now, back to those sticky and expensive travel emergencies. To illustrate the point, let’s take a look at a few difficulties that thousands of travelers find themselves in each year to see whether you really need travel insurance on your trip.
Stranded in Texas
Houston, Texas. You landed a few hours ago after taking off from New York, and you’re in the middle of a long layover on the way to Rio. Life is good.
But then, a severe storm bears down on the airport, bringing the risk of tornadoes. Flights for the next few hours are canceled. Worse, since the cancellation was outside of the airline’s control, they’re not legally obligated to help you reach your destination. They won’t offer you an alternative flight for another two days, they won’t pay for a flight with another airline, and they won’t pay your expenses in the meantime.
With travel insurance, though, you’ve got options. Your travel insurance coverage will likely reimburse you, if you have to pay out of pocket to take an earlier or later flight and, if you get delayed for the requisite amount of time, they should cover the cost of your food and accommodation while you wait.
Either way, travel insurance makes your life a lot easier. And, when flightaware.com shows hundreds of cancellations on a typical day, it’s well worth having.
An expensive tumble
Getting around Phuket, Thailand isn’t quite as straightforward as it is in London, Paris or New York. You basically have three options: rent a car (pricey), use tuk-tuks (inconvenient) or hire a moped. And you can see why so many tourists to Thailand go for the last option—mopeds are as cheap as they are fun.
So, you opt for a cute little Honda Scoopy, making sure to pick up a helmet while you’re at it. If you take care, you’ll probably be fine. But there’s still a risk, and one wrong move could land you with a severe case of road rash, a broken leg or worse. And without insurance, you’ll also be landed with a hefty hospital bill—with a fractured hip plus a ride in an air ambulance setting you back around $99,000 in Thailand, taking a tumble would be anything but cheap.
Of course, road traffic accidents aren’t a Thailand exclusive — 20-50 million injuries occur on roads across the world each year and "road crashes are the single greatest annual cause of death of healthy U.S. citizens traveling abroad," according to The Association for Safe International Road Travel.
Traffic accidents are far from the only thing travel insurance can help with. Whether you’re injured falling down the stairs or hospitalized after falling sick, the right coverage can make it so you don’t get left with a big bill.
Traveling lighter than planned
Suppose you decide to take a photography vacation to India. Just considering the cameras and lenses you’re bringing, that suitcase could easily be worth thousands.
Lost baggage rates might have hit an all-time low, but it’s still a travel risk—according to the most recent data available, airlines worldwide lost or mislaid 21.6 million bags in one year.
Landing at the airport in Delhi only to find that the airline has misplaced your luggage could be a lot more than an inconvenience. If it doesn’t turn up, the airline is only obliged to pay a certain amount for lost luggage.
So, if you like to travel with expensive gadgets, it could pay to have the right travel insurance in tow.
Hitting the slopes
Sometimes, you need to be extra prepared.
You’re heading to the Alps for your first ever ski vacation, safe in the knowledge that you’ve taken out travel insurance to help protect you, should your lack of experience prove to be a liability. As it happens, it does, and you end up in a hospital with a broken leg the day before you’re due to fly home. At least your travel insurance will pay for your hospital bills and a later flight… right?
Not so fast. Many standard travel insurance plans don’t cover you for certain high-risk activities, such as extreme sports. And discovering that while you’re lying in a hospital is less than ideal.
Luckily, travel insurance from Generali Global Assistance should cover you if you stick to standard skiing -- but extreme skiing, heli-skiing, and skiing outside marked trails are excluded from coverage. The lesson there: make sure you know what travel insurance you’re buying to really know if you might need it for your trip.
So, whenever you travel, be sure to check that you’re covered for everything you plan to do. In some cases, you might need a specific travel insurance plan. For a fraction of your trip cost and a few minutes of your time, investments don’t get much more worthwhile.