Updated: Jun 4
So you've put "Hope" on your calendar and deposited the money for your next vacation! But, what if something unexpected happens before or during your well-planned trip? As a Travel Professional, this is, without a doubt, one of my biggest worries for clients who chose not to purchase travel insurance. No matter how extravagant or low-budget a trip may be, many things outside our control can change a dream vacation into a nightmare faster than you can say "Hurricane."
Before starting my travel agency, I sold healthcare to small businesses for many years. I often worked with employees when claim issues occurred and the medical plan denied payment for specific medical claims. I understood the value of purchasing insurance, but like many people getting ready to take a vacation, I believed once I committed to a trip, I was going to go on it...NO MATTER WHAT! I didn't necessarily see the value in adding another $79-$129-$249 (whatever the premium) to the cost of a trip for something as un-romantic as travel insurance. Within the first year of booking travel for my clients, some had to change plans and take on unnecessary costs due to no insurance; so I always recommend it to people when booking. Also, I realized even if you have an excellent medical plan, how the policy works while traveling can be very different than when you use the coverage at home.
Here are the five reasons I believe everyone needs travel insurance. The case studies below are actual client claim issues, so for privacy and PHI reasons, I have changed people's names in the case study for anonymity.
1) Accidents and Illnesses can happen when you're away from home.
Your U.S. Passport clearly states (p.6) that Medicare/Medicaid does not cover healthcare outside of the U.S. Most health insurance companies don't provide the same coverage abroad versus when you are inside the U.S. Before traveling outside the U.S., double-check your medical evacuation coverage policies and payments to hospitals/ doctors overseas or future reimbursement for overseas medical care.
First Case Study - Joe and his with Betty were on a 7-day European river cruise on the Danube from Nuremberg, Germany, to Budapest, Hungary. On the first night of eating and drinking their way down the Danube, Joe had a massive heart attack and had to be taken off the boat by an ambulance to have open-heart surgery at a German hospital. His medical plan covered the emergency surgery and treatment in the hospital as in-network benefits; however, Their medical plan, of course, didn't pay for Betty's four-night stay in Nuremberg or her meals. Nor did it pay for the additional costs the airline charged for rearranging their flights.
Second Case Study: Suzy, who was in Mexico visiting the ruins in Tulum, awkwardly stepped along the trail, fell, and broke her hip. The tour operator quickly called in a medical evacuation team, and the medical helicopter flew her to Galenia Hospital in Cancún. Once stabilized, Suzy wanted to return home to the United States for care with her medical team. She was shocked to learn the medical evacuation to the hospital wasn't covered by her medical plan, nor was the flights back home to get her back to her preferred hospital.
Travel insurance can reimburse you for care following a covered medical emergency while traveling. It can even arrange and pay for a medical evacuation if needed.
2) You have to cancel a trip last minute or while you're on the trip.
So, you're not elderly; you're healthy; you've already confirmed with your boss three times that you can have time off. Nothing is going to keep you from the much-needed and highly anticipated vacation; Right? What happens if any of the below situations occur right before you leave or while on the trip?
One of your parents falls and injures themself and needs you to be their caregiver.
One of your adult children falls ill or needs surgery and has nobody to watch the grandchildren...they need Grandma!
The kennel calls and your dog is diagnosed with kennel cough, and they need someone to pick him up. They can't keep the dog during your trip. You can't take the dog with you! (This happened to me on the way to Jamaica)
You or a family member comes down with a virus the day before you leave for your vacation.
If any of the above happens, travel insurance can reimburse you for your prepaid, non-refundable trip costs — including vacation rentals, car rentals, hotels, and flights — if you have to cancel for a covered reason.
3) Travel delays leave you stranded.
We've all had connecting flights and experienced a delay or overnight in a connecting city due to a weather delay. What if the Polar Vortex waylays you in the Atlanta airport overnight, and you miss the Caribbean cruise you've been planning all year? The costs incurred to add a flight to the first port on your cruise far outweighs the cost of most travel insurance policies.
Are you traveling internationally to or through Europe? Are you stuck in Paris for an extra night, or are all Transatlantic flights cancel due to an Iceland volcanic eruption for three days? The average hotel room anywhere in Europe is $350 to 400 dollars. With the appropriate travel insurance policy, you can submit a claim to reimburse you for eligible meals, accommodation, and transportation expenses during a covered delay.
4) Your luggage is lost-delayed while traveling.
Whether you're planning a week-long road trip or a weekend getaway, you never know what might happen. Travel insurance gives you access to our 24-Hour Assistance hotline for expert, personalized support in a crisis.
Third Case Study- Sisters Ashley and Carly were on a trip to Morocco in March of 2019. Carly's bag got stuck in ATL on the way to Marrakech via Amsterdam. Delta and KLM partners couldn't get the bag to Marrakech for three days, but the ladies had an 8-day G-Adventures tour of Morocco and would be leaving the next day. Carly ended up being without her bags for seven days until she could swing back through Marrakech on the way to Essaouira. Luckily the ladies bought trip insurance, so Carly's plan provided her $300 to buy essentials to get her through the seven days without her bag!
While traveling may have to live without your bags for the delay duration, you can at least get reimbursed for the essential items you need to carry on while on your trip!
5) You lose your Passport while traveling and need emergency assistance.
It is particularly important when traveling somewhere that you don't speak the language and you cannot find an interpreter to help you overcome whatever obstacle comes your way.
Fourth Case Study - Denise lost her Passport while visiting family in Mexico City. Luckily she bought insurance, and her travel advisor had requested copies of her driver's license and Passport before her trip. Denise contacted her travel advisor and, with the insurance companies help, located the nearest U.S. embassy to apply for a new passport. When aboard, the only way to get a replacement Passport is with the U.S. embassy or consulate. Most U.S. embassies and consulates cannot issue Passports on weekends or holidays when the embassy/consulate is closed. All U.S. embassies and consulates have after-hours duty officers available to assist with life or death emergencies of U.S. citizens abroad.
Duty officers must focus primary attention on life or death emergencies. In most cases, except for serious emergencies, a replacement passport will not be issued until the next business day.
Anyone can lose or, worse, have their Passport stolen, and it's totally out of your control. For my clients, I provide them with their travel documents and in their trip plans app a list of the U.S. embassy or consulate after-hours duty officer for assistance because you never know what might happen. And those clients who buy the added travel insurance get access to a 24-Hour Assistance hotline where an expert provides support in a crisis.
Whew! Any of these situations will cause extreme stress and could be financially devastating if you don't have adequate travel insurance. And I bet if you're like me, you've traveled uninsured a few times and told your travel advisor, "Nothing is going to keep us from going on that trip...or I'll be careful, I'm healthy and not prone to accidents."
So think long, and hard next time your travel advisor offers you insurance, and you check the decline box to turn it down. I say you should, "just buy it and consider it a part of the vacation's cost."
What about you? Do you have any stories of when travel insurance saved you? Do you have stories of when travel insurance would've been a good idea? Honestly, I could write an "Atlas Shrugged" length novel filled with horror versus happy stories related to travel insurance. Hopefully, this was enough to convince you a travel insurance policy can be an invaluable investment Send me your travel story!
Are you looking to plan your next trip? If you're ready to learn more about how I can help you plan your next vacation, get in touch with us by filling out our trip planning form. We can then schedule a complimentary trip-planning session, or if you want to keep dreaming of travel, click here to sign up for the complimentary Wanderlist trip builder app!