To buy or not to buy, that is the question many people ask about getting travel insurance. Is it worth it? Years ago, the substantial cost of travel insurance resulted in many people rejecting it on the spot, but the market has changed. Many insurance companies now are offering very affordable rates, so today’s travelers are more inclined to purchase their travel protection. Is travel insurance worth it? Continue reading for answers to your travel insurance questions.
Is Travel Insurance Worth it?
I did most of my traveling, hundreds of trips, without buying travel insurance. When I was young, I did not think anything would ever happen to me. Just wanted to go and explore the world and definitely did not want to spend any additional money to do it.
With maturity sneaking up on me, I realized that the world, even though beautiful, could hurt me in a variety of ways. With that came an idea of buying travel insurance, but I had a very good health policy that promised to cover even international emergencies. Then the day came when I no longer had good health coverage and that completely changed my perspective.
I bought my first full travel coverage for a mother and son trip to Costa Rica, and oh boy, was that the right thing to do! Read on to discover the answers to your questions including “Is Travel Insurance Worth It?”
How Does Travel Insurance Work?
Travel insurance works on the same principles of other insurance plans. Travelers pay a small amount to cover their risk, and the insurance company takes that money and holds or invests it. And when a loss occurs when a covered policyholder is traveling, then the travel insurance company pays according to the terms of the contract.
What Can Go Wrong When you Travel?
Many things can go wrong when traveling. Most travel insurance plans are package plans including a mix of coverage. The most common coverages include trip cancellation, trip interruption, trip delay, lost or delayed baggage, medical coverage, medical evacuation etc.
For example, you can miss your flight! That almost happened to me and my son Daniel (age 22 at the time). We used Park and Fly hotel in Philadelphia. When checking in, we asked for a wake-up call at 3:00 AM to get up on time for our flight to Costa Rica. Normally, I would also set the alarm clock on my phone, but I fell asleep like a log and did not do it.
I woke up to my son yelling: “Mom, it is late, we have to go!” Turned out that the staff at the hotel forgot that they gave us a different room because in our initial one the AC was not working. They were waking up the walls in an empty room while Daniel and I could have slept uninterrupted. The fact that he woke up and even checked the clock was close to a miracle.) Normally, taking him out of bed that early required a bucket of ice.)
What else can go wrong?
Your flight is canceled or postponed. You miss a connection. Your baggage is lost or stolen. You lose your wallet with money and credit cards. Your car breaks down. You get sick or injured, and unfortunately, you can even die!
Even the most carefully pre-planned trip can quickly become complicated as there so many things that could go wrong. In my opinion, it is better to buy travel insurance without scaring yourself with all these possibilities. What you are buying is a peace of mind!
When Do I Need Travel Insurance?
The answer is simple, only when you need it, which means when things go wrong. How often does it happen? You may think that not that often until…it happens to you.
Back to my story, the last and main stop of our trip, Manuel Antonio, had everything you could imagine for a great vacation. Gorgeous Manuel Antonio National Park, wildlife, wide beautiful beach with all kinds of water sports, and an unbelievable sunset. This is where we decided to spend our last full vacation day in Costa Rica, right on the beach.
The Law of Travel: What Can Go Wrong, Goes Wrong
My son could not wait to take a jet ski ride along the beach and around the picturesque rocks farther in the water. I forced him to wear a hat before the rental process started, but then he put this life jacket on and jumped on the machine and took off without applying any sunblock. When you are almost at the equator, it is not the smart thing to do! The sunburn took time to surface, so we stayed until the sunset without realizing that he got severely burned.
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My goal was to take a lot of pictures of the sunset. The scene was so beautiful, I felt like a fish in the water!
Unfortunately, I quickly learned that I was more like an elephant when I slipped on one of the boulders. I went down like a log and hit my left upper arm against the rock, but managed to keep my camera in my right hand without dropping it into the water. (You’re welcome! That is the only reason you can now enjoy these beautiful photos.)
I knew something was seriously wrong. My arm hurt, and it only felt OK when kept it up to the air. The locals still tell the tales about this American woman who walked with the left arm straight up!
When Do You Realize That Buying Travel Insurance was the Right Thing to Do?
The next day we traveled to San Jose to overnight for our flight home early morning. We both hurt. But Daniel needed immediate medical attention. His sunburn looked really bad, huge golf ball size blisters, pain, oozing skin. We had already returned our car rental, so we called for a taxi to take him to a nearby clinic. There he received a few medical procedures and pain-killing medications.
I decided not to do anything with my injury because I knew it could wait until we come home. If that had happened at any other time during the trip, it would be a different story.
Now the question: when do you realize that buying travel insurance was the right choice? Answer: When bad things already happened and you’re thankful you had elected coverage — and relieved to know that your expenses are going to be covered.
What Is Covered by Your Travel Insurance?
When considering to purchase travel insurance, take a close look at the available plans. They usually vary by the length of coverage, different combinations of covered benefits, and a maximum amount of coverage.
During this particular trip, I realized that the most important component of my travel insurance was having health coverage. I also learned that transportation to and from the medical facility was considered a health expense. That saved me a lot of money! It was health issues this time, but when I think about the turbulent times we live in, politically and weather-wise, having a cushion for when things go wrong in other areas of life is very comforting to me.
What is not covered?
Most policies do not cover the following: leaving your belongings unattended, pre-existing conditions, reckless activities (excessive drinking or taking recreational drugs), high-risk sports and activities like rock climbing, traveling against government advice, ignoring road and driving rules, or simply changing your mind.
How difficult is it to file a claim and get paid?
Is travel insurance worth it? Yes, it is. When we returned, I immediately filed a claim. During the process, I spoke to a few agents to guide me through the process. I had no problem to talk to a real person without being pushed around from one prompt to another.
Turned out that my son’s taxi ride was covered too. The insurance company accepted a handwritten bill from a driver, even though it was in Spanish. They also helped me contact the clinic to obtain a detailed description of procedures provided to my son.
Once all the documents were submitted, I received a reimbursement within few days. The whole process was smooth and very well conducted.
The money I spent on buying the insurance was nothing compared to what the cost was for Daniel’s treatment. I can only imagine how much it would be for me if went through the whole diagnostic process in Costa Rica.
What Kind of Travel Insurance Should I Buy?
If you do not travel frequently, one-time coverage is sufficient. For three and more trips, buying a yearly plan is a good idea. Because of my great experience, I decided to buy yearly travel insurance. I hope not to ever use it again, but I like the peace of mind that it gives me.
How Much Will Travel Insurance Cost?
There is no simple answer to that. It depends on what components of coverage you select, your age, length of the trip, and whether your travels take you to domestical or international destinations.
When Should I Buy Travel Insurance?
Ideally, you should buy it as soon as you purchased your trip, in case you need to cancel before the trip occurs.
What Travel Insurance is the Best and Why?
I started with a specific company because it was recommended to me by my fellow travelers and because it was highly ranked among other similar providers. Then came my own experience and that proved to me that I made the right choice in a first place. My approach in life is, when you like what you have, stop searching!