Do I really need a travel insurance?

In TRAVEL HACKS, TRAVEL INSURANCE by Isabella BiavaLeave a Comment

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I have been working in the travel industry for 20 years, mainly in the customer service area,  solving guests’ problems during their vacation and helping them booking their dream-trip.

I have seen many lost bags, missed flights, trips interrupted, and I have visited many clients at the hospital during their holiday for many different reasons, food poison, bad fall, flu, allergies, you name it.

If it wasn’t for their travel insurance their trip would have cost them a fortune because of medical bills or lost bags.

Travel agents include mandatory travel insurance in their travel package because if anything happens they might be held liable.

As a traveler myself, although I have been traveling for some time without one, I will never move a finger now if I haven’t purchased a travel insurance.

I was lucky and although I had to be attended in a private clinic a couple of times I didn’t have to face too many high costs.

However, luck is not always on our side, and accidents can happen even if we are careful and live a healthy life.

the view from a Mayan temple

There are things that are simply out of our control.

But my major motivation for getting travel insurance is that I want to protect my family.

How?

Because if something bad happens that implies a long hospitalization with a huge financial impact, they would certainly go out of their way to find the money to fund my recovery. And the last thing I want is be a burden to my family.

Hospital bills can get very high if you want efficient private medicare, anywhere in the world.

The 4 myths about travel insurance

If the above isn’t enough to offer you a reason to buy travel insurance, in this post I will give you 4 more reasons why you should, debunking the 4 myths about travel insurance.

 “I don’t need travel insurance, I am super healthy and very careful”

I get it and if you are young and fit, you feel even more invincible.

However, unfortunately, mishaps are most of the time out of our control, because they are inflicted by other people’s negligence or just because our lucky star was distracted, no matter how fit or young you are.

I give you some examples.

You are walking on the street minding your own business and all excited about the tour you are going to have tomorrow, while an idiot on a car is crossing with the red light because he’s texting while driving and he hits you, badly.

And what if it gets so bad you need to be evacuated to a different hospital or sent home? Do you have an idea of the costs involved in that?

Look, I don’t really want to be  Ms. Negative here, I just want to picture the worst-case scenario that any living human being can face.

I do believe that we are all creators of our own reality and we attract what we “sort of ” want. The problem here is that we haven’t learned how to do it and we haven’t learned how to communicate it to the Universe, yet.

So, shit happens and if we want to fix it, sometimes it comes at a cost.

Insurance can pay for that cost.

playa and turquise water

“Travel Insurance Companies are a scam”

It is a common thought that Travel Insurance companies rip you off and I used to believe it as well. I still do actually. But they can also be used for our benefit if we know how to choose them and we understand how they work.

Having worked with a lot of them and having filled so many claims on behalf of my clients, and sometimes for myself, I learned a few things that I am going to share here with you.

  1. Travel insurances are not ripping you off, they are just like any other business. They want to make money and they present their product in order for you to find it appealing and worth the money. That’s called marketing.
  2. They never lie and they do deliver what they promise. Everything is written down and there is no possibility to cheat. However, it is our job to read very well what’s in their contract and their policy. All the “buts” and “ifs” that follows any rules need to be checked and read thoroughly before signing anything.  I know it costs a lot of time and boring work, and I am the first to skip it and just trust, but it’s our responsibility to make sure we know what we are signing for.
  3. It’s always advisable to check out other’s reviews and compare them among different companies before choosing what works for you.

“Airlines refunds for lost bags and missed flights”

Unfortunately, it’s not always the case.

Suppose you find this great cheap flight from Rome to  Buenos Aires, but you connect in 4 airports and change 3 different airlines but you are in London and need to reach Rome first. So you purchase a flight to Rome separately from the other flights. Your London departure has been delayed and you miss the connection from Rome and consequently all the other 4 flights.

You won’t get a penny from either of the airlines because the first one is responsible only to get you to Rome,  but it’s not responsible for the missed connection because it’s not in the same flight itinerary.

It sucks, right? but that’s the way it works with airlines.

Not to mention that smaller companies never refund anything, no matter what.

What about lost bags? Forget about that. That’s why when you purchase a flight on the airline site, they always offer insurance in order for you to be protected.

Travel insurance will protect you in both cases. Always check out the details first, though (see above chapter).

A friend of mine got sick 2 days before her trip and she couldn’t get on the flight. She had to cancel the entire trip. The insurance company refunded her the entire flight cost. The airline wouldn’t have done that.

on the road in yucatan

“It is cheaper to pay out of pocket, especially if I am traveling to cheap countries”

It is, indeed, if you have minor injuries or you don’t miss 3 flights.

During my trip to Guatemala, Ecuador, and Peru, I have been to the hospital 3 times, and I spent around 500 USD in total, the insurance refunded me but it didn’t pay off the entire amount I paid for it.

I would if I had a major issue and I had to be hospitalized. I felt lucky I didn’t, though.

I always say that purchasing travel insurance is like gambling. You are gambling on your health and the travel insurance company does too.

Both of you wish you never use it because they would make money this way, and you, well, nobody wants to get sick or miss a flight.

But, in case you do, you are protected.

Think about it as a safety net, in case you fall, the travel insurance will protect you from getting hurt.

Secret garden Cotopaxi - Boundless Roads

My traveling companions ready to ride down

How to choose the best travel insurance

Now, it is very important that you take the time to analyze what each travel insurance offers. Beyond the basics, they all have different solutions for different needs. Nobody can tell you which insurance is best for you, because you only know the type of trip you are going to have.

For example, if you love adventure and you hike above 4.500mt or you dive a lot or do kitesurf you need to make sure the insurance you use will cover those sports.

If you are on a budget you might want to start from more budget insurance but that still covers the basics.. and so on.

To facilitate your research I have put together a specific post on how to choose the best travel insurance where I also compare 2 different companies.

It might be helpful as a first overview.

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