I must warn you this is a long post but a crucial post.
When planning and budgeting for a trip, many Canadians might assume that travel insurance is optional. But to adequately protect your family, your belongings, and the money invested in your vacation, travel insurance is vital.
Why Is Travel Insurance Important?
Traveling can be like driving a car. You can make all of the turns and practice safe, defensive driving techniques, but there are plenty of others on the road, and their actions and decisions are out of your control. Things like snow, ice, and other environmental circumstances could also cause an accident.
When traveling, you also practice safety and street smarts. You pack well and try to plan for all eventualities. But there are factors beyond your control that may affect you during the trip, and the consequences of being unprepared for those types of happenings can be extremely damaging. You wouldn’t drive your car without car insurance, so why travel without proper coverage?
You might hear the term travel health insurance or travel medical insurance. You also may have considered trip cancellation or baggage insurance. The following are all elements of an excellent travel insurance package.
A comprehensive travel insurance package should include:
- Out of country emergency medical coverage
- Trip Cancellation and Trip Interruption
- Loss/Theft of Baggage and Valuables
- 24-hour Access to a Representative – this allows you to get the proper emergency/medical help when you need it and can eliminate communication difficulties
There are a few essential questions that will ensure your insurance purchase is a wise choice. Here is a summary of the answers you should expect your questions about travel insurance coverage.
Always ask about exclusions or those circumstances and instances that are not included in the policy. For cancellation coverage, your ticket may not be covered in the event a family member gets sick. Or only certain portions of the amount you prepaid may be covered (your airline ticket is included, for instance, but not the hotel or charter booked at your destination).
Ask about pre-existing conditions too. If you have a chronic illness or have been diagnosed in the past, you may need written disclosure from your doctor beforehand to establish your state of health. This applies to both cancellation and travel health insurance. Get details and provide the insurance company with all of the relevant documents before you leave on the trip
Suppose your trip involves the possibility of risky or dangerous sports or activities (mountain climbing or scuba diving, for example). In that case, you will need to ask whether the policy will cover you in those instances. The insurance company may raise the rate or refuse to cover you because of the risk levels, but it’s essential to disclose it ahead of time.
What Can Happen If You Travel Without Coverage?
Let us compare traveling to driving a vehicle; there are many days when your trip in the car is uneventful. But your auto insurance is always actively protecting you and the other drivers around you. The same thing applies to travel insurance. If you don’t have coverage, any accidents, emergencies, losses, and cancellation costs will come out of your pocket. With a good travel insurance policy, you are protected from the moment your trip is booked to the moment you return home.
Many credit card companies offer travel insurance for their clients, and many cardholders feel the travel insurance provided by their credit card company is plenty. It will cover their travel insurance needs. This may not always be the case. With credit card travel insurance not, everything may be insured. For example, You are in a destination – let’s say Mexico, and you take a group bus tour to see the Mayan ruins in Coba, and your bus is in an accident, and you are rushed to the hospital. With your credit card travel insurance, you may be required to pay for treatment upfront, submit a claim, and wait for the money to be reimbursed sometime in the future. OR what if you are required to stay in the hospital, and you would like a loved one to come and be by your side until you can travel home, does your credit card travel insurance cover this? Not all credit card travel insurance covers what you think they cover.
I know I know your shaking your head and asking “But I don’t have time to read all the fine print of what is covered and what isn’t covered, besides this probably won’t happen,” and your right the example above is probably most likely will not happen; but why take the risk. I know not everybody reads the fine print of their credit card travel insurance, and I’m not asking you too. In fact, I am here to offer you some help in navigating credit card travel insurance coverage… well, sort of. There is a website that can help you understand what the most popular Canadian and the United States credit card companies offer in the way of travel insurance on each of their cards. The website is called insureye.com.
Contrary to popular beliefs, this website was created by a regular person who damaged a rental car while parking in a small garage. He wasn’t too worried since he had credit cards — and they all must have insurance, right? To his astonishment, he had to pay for the damages himself. Unlike other credit cards, the card he had used to pay for the rental car didn’t have car rental insurance. After the incident, insureye.com was developed. Using insureye.com is simple; it is just a matter of selecting your country, your bank, and your credit card’s name. The website will automatically populate and show you a grid clearly stating what is and isn’t covered. Before I travel, I always make use of the insureye website. I am then better informed about what type of travel insurance I need to purchase. For more information on insureye click here.
Please note that the information provided on this site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for the careful review of insurance policies, or for a consultation with qualified insurance professionals.
Until next time stay safe, stay healthy.
Mary – the Traveling Baroness