So, you’re off on an adventure! You have a laptop, a tablet, a phone, clothes, hiking gear, swimming accessories, fancy clothes for out on the town, and you’ve signed up for a cooking class, a seven-day adventure hike and kayak in the country, tickets to a sold-out opera, and a two-week apartment rental in your city of choice. Quite a trip. But what if something happens? That could be many thousands of dollars down the drain.
The question of travel insurance comes up frequently, and on a trip like the above, it’s certainly something to consider. Of course, the premiums make the price tag of the trip even heftier. So, should you get insurance, and if so, what exactly do you need?
Kinds of Insurance to Consider
There are a number of policies you may or may not need. The first thing is not to listen to a travel agent on this one. They do come with a world of advice, but agents make a commission on insurance sales, even though the provider is not part of the travel outfitter. So, if an agent recommends a policy, just smile, and then do your research.
Generally speaking, there are many kinds of insurance you can buy. To just cover all your bases, especially if you have an itinerary like the one above, you may want to get comprehensive insurance from TravelEx or Travel Guard, which covers everything at a fee of somewhere between 5% and 12% of your entire trip’s value – age is a factor here.
But, you probably don’t need to get this kind of coverage. Common policies include trip cancellation and interruption, medical, evacuation, vehicle, renter, baggage, theft, and flight. Cancellation covers you if you can’t go on your trip at all, and so your non-refundable expenses are refunded by the insurer. Interruption means you’re on your trip, but you have to go home for whatever reason. Medical is your health, of course, but you may not know that evacuation is for if you fall very ill and need to be transported somewhere, like by special plane. Baggage insurance covers the items in your luggage, and theft, of course covers items stolen from you, while flight insurance covers you for the time you’re sitting in the airplane and that’s it. Vehicle insurance covers car rentals, and renter’s insurance may be required for something like an Airbnb rental.
What do you Really Need
If you have paid for an organized trip, it makes a world of sense to get trip cancellation and interruption insurance. If you are just flying to a country to have a good time, you probably don’t need to get this coverage as you haven’t put money into anything but accommodations, if you’ve even done that much. The one reason you may consider trip cancellation or interruption is that it covers flights that are missed due to air traffic control rather than the airline, or delayed by a day (ie. you need a hotel room and don’t want to pay for it). This kind of coverage is available when you book your ticket, and it’s about $25 per route.
The first thing to do, though, is check out your current policies. You probably have renters or home owner’s insurance, and many times those policies cover theft, apartment rental overseas, etc. Your health may cover you abroad, and it may or may not include evacuation. Check. By the same token, many car insurance policies cover rental cars. Call your insurance providers and tell them exactly what you’re doing. Chances are, if they don’t offer full coverage, they can sell you a temporary addendum for a lesser rate than if you just get a new plan all together.
You should make sure your health is covered, though, particularly if you’re going on an active adventure. What if you break a leg or get dehydrated and need medical attention? If your health is poor, then it’s a good idea to get a plan, just as a safety precaution.
Baggage insurance is not necessary unless you’re really bringing along the full electronic coral, and even then, those items are probably covered under your home or renter’s policy. You may lose your favorite jeans, that’s true. The question is, what does it cost to replace those items? Is it comparable to the baggage insurance? This is probably one to skip.
A big racket is the flight insurance. The situation in which you may need to be covered for only the plane is hard to imagine. A collision with another plane, perhaps. But if you have medical, you’re covered. This is a bit of a scam; most people don’t get this insurance.
Some places, like France, require you to get their local renters insurance for apartments. You just have to pay it and get it, and yes, it’s $75 you’re never going to get back again, but look at it this way, if a pipe breaks and floods your apartment, and it could in those old buildings, then you’re covered for damages, which may not be the case otherwise. Remember, laws overseas are not the same as they are in America, you never know who’s liable for what.
The most important thing is to make sure you’re going to be financially okay if something happens. Are you going to be okay if your bag is lost in the middle of Egypt forever? Yes. If you contract malaria in Ghana? No, not likely. Ask questions, and when in doubt, get coverage.
What’s your strategy for insurance coverage? Do you get it, or risk it?