Insurance can add up to your travel cost, which is why many budget travelers would prefer not to get one, if they have a choice, or to buy the cheapest one just for compliance. Until that fateful day when you would have a dire use for it to cover your medical cost while abroad, for repatriation or at least to cover lost baggage. Then and only then will you discover how inadequate is your coverage or its many restrictions.
Know the Basics
This early, it is important to know what a good insurance coverage is. Rick Steves’ Do I Need Travel Insurance? provides the basics of travel insurance; it answers the following questions:
… What are the chances you’ll need it? How willing are you to take risks? How much is peace of mind worth to you? Take these considerations into account, understand your options, and make an informed decision for your trip.
Steves offered insurance basics in this article. There are three important points to learn from him:
- The insurance menu: This includes “trip cancellation and interruption, medical, evacuation, baggage, and flight insurance.” All these are inclusive when you buy a “comprehensive insurance.” You may also opt to by these separately as “supplemental policies” for certain specific concerns like political evacuation and identity theft.
- Guidelines for each type of coverage: Steves provides a comprehensive guideline, but he warns the readers that these may vary depending on certain factors such as level of coverage. The key is to ask questions and to read the fine prints.
- Buy from insurance agents. While your travel agent may come forward with some offers, remember that they do that for an extra commission and to comply with certain laws. It is always best to go to an insurance agent for travel insurance because they can better answer your questions and help you find one that best fits your needs.
Travel insurance policies and coverage are not born equal. This is one thing that Ben Groundwater tries to instill in the readers of his article entitled Common Travel Insurance Mistakes to Look Out For published in Stuff.co.nz – Travel Section. His most important piece of advice is…
“…read the fine-print. Second piece of advice: read the fine-print. Again.
It doesn’t matter who your insurer is or how many times you’ve travelled, when you book travel insurance you need to read the fine-print to discover what you are and are not covered for.
Even after reading all of the tips and pitfalls in this story, you still need to read the fine-print. Every insurer is different. Every policy is different.”
You may think that every traveler is convinced that one can’t leave home without one. Yet, the results of a survey undertaken by Fast Cover Insurance revealed that 40 per cent of travelers don’t really bother. Countless travelers have encountered difficulties even when they have travel insurance. Obviously, many are not too “well-versed” insofar as travel insurance is concerned.
This prompted Groundwater to solicit advices from insurers and they have these to say:
- “You need insurance.” Based on those surveyed, 1 out of 5 needed help while abroad. The point is the cost for emergency assistance can be as little as $38.70. Says van Es of fast Cover Insurance, It’s not much when you compare it to what you’ve paid for the holiday.”
- “You’re not covered for everything.” If you will read those fine prints, you’ll know about the restrictions and conditions. Read and understand before picking your insurance.
- “Record your belongings.” Make an inventory and document your stuff cveed by the insurance. A photograph can help the insurance process claims faster.
- “Don’t drink and claim.” DUI is an offense, how can you expect to claim anything from your insurance after drinking, driving and figuring I an accident? If you’ll drink, don’t drive because if you’ll get mugged or hit by a car while walking, you’re covered.
- “Declare your medical conditions.” Don’t ever try to fool and lie to your insurer by not declaring a preexisting medical condition. Your insurance can turn to be a bit more expensive, but it can be covered.
Adventures and Accidents: Are these covered?
Many travelers think that extreme sports and adventures only cover skiing, bungee jumping, scuba diving and such, and that riding or driving a motorbike overseas need no coverage. Often, it is only after a motorcycle accident that they will learn they can’t make any insurance claim.
If before your travel you have already decided on pursuing some extreme sports or adventures even as lame as hiking, swimming or camping under the stars, it’s best to discuss them with your insurance agent.
It’s a Contract
Remember, an insurance policy is a legal contract. Upon affixing your signature, it means you have understood everything written in the document and that you are agreeing to every term and condition. You’ll lose your claim on the grounds that “you didn’t know or understood” what were written in fine prints.
In the words of Groundwater, he says “Don’t be an Idiot!” He is right, “ignorance is not an excuse.” If you don’t understand, don’t sign. Take time to read and understand what are covered by reading the fine print.