Travel Insurance: The Pros and Cons, and How to Protect Yourself

By: Lindsay MacNevin  | 
travel insurance policy document

It is a great debate, whether or not you should purchase travel insurance. With more and more people traveling these days it is a hot topic that can be greatly debated. Travelers must understand that there are many different kinds of travel insurance and finding the right one can often be confusing and long-winded. We have tried to simplify things for you, discussing the pros and cons and giving you some general tips on how to protect yourself. So, if you have ever wondered: should I purchase travel insurance; here‘s our two cents:


Will it Give You Peace of Mind?

Having peace of mind may just be the number one reason people purchase travel insurance. Going on vacation can be stressful enough without worrying about what to do in case of an emergency. When you purchase travel insurance, you are guaranteed to be covered if something happens. Cancellation travel insurance is highly popular and takes the worry about what to do if for some reason you cannot travel. Medical insurance on the other hand will protect you if anything happens, getting you the best care in the quickest way possible. If you are an anxious traveler, it may just be the best money you spend on your whole trip.

woman meditating on a sunset beach


Fact: Medical Bills Climb Quickly

Purchasing medical coverage when traveling outside of your own country always seems like a logical idea. When you purchase medical coverage, depending on what type, you may not have to pay anything out of pocket. This comes in quite handy as medical bills can climb quickly when you are in a different country. Medications are often the cheapest part of the bill; it is when surgery or other major complications are involved. It is important to ensure your medical coverage covers all types of medical emergencies, from snake bites to broken bones to mysterious rashes. Also ensure you know what steps to take if you get hurt.

medical benefits document


Research Cancellation Coverage

We have all heard the horror stories of trying to cancel flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. You book a trip months in advance and then life throws you a curveball and you have to cancel your plans. Whether you have to cancel because of a death in the family, a new job, financial reasons, a new baby or any other life experience, it shouldn’t be stressful. That’s where cancellation insurance comes in, this peace of mind offering ensures that you don’t have to pay for a vacation that you are not going on, because let’s be honest, who wants to pay for something that they cannot do? If there is one coverage you should plan on splurging on and you are the type to book way ahead of time, this is the one. If you are more of a last minute traveler, this coverage is pretty much useless to you. Remember to double check if you can cancel without penalty on cars, flights and hotels, before purchasing additional insurance.

the words "right to cancel" printed on paper


How Much Does it really Cost?

When it comes to comparing costs of different coverage, it can vary greatly when it comes to travel insurance. As much as insurance companies want you to believe that the cost is low; it often expensive to purchase, especially when you are looking for complete coverage. It is up for debate on when to purchase insurance, it often looks cheaper to purchase at the time of booking but you must book with a specific company. On the other hand, many people have an issue paying for travel insurance and then not needing it. An extra couple hundred dollars is not worth the risk for many travelers who have vacationed without coverage previously. The question really comes down to how comfortable you are paying out of pocket if something happens.

american $100 dollar bills


Make Sure Your Coverage is Adequate

Insurance can be a tricky thing to understand, especially when you start to look at the fine print. It is important to research what your plan covers and what it doesn’t. Unfortunately there are a lot of things that insurance will not cover. For example, say you are traveling to a country to do some serious hiking, up mountains or a volcano. You have purchased insurance in case you get hurt while climbing. Most companies won’t in fact tell you that if you fall and hurt yourself from a certain distance or height, they actually will not cover your medical costs. That is because they classify such adventures as extreme sports. Another example of coverage being inadequate is when you need to cancel your trip. Be aware that many insurance companies only allow you to cancel within a specific time frame. It is important to remember that although coverage at first glance may look great, it may be missing a few key items.

Travel Insurance policy document


Think About Evacuation Insurance

You may or may not have heard of Evacuation Insurance, but it is an important term in the travel insurance world. If you have decided that full medical coverage isn’t for you, evacuation insurance might be worth investing in. This coverage is particularly helpful for people traveling to third world countries or countries that do not have the same level of medical care than their home country. Essentially evacuation insurance allows travelers to be sent back to their home country for treatment. Sure it means missing the rest of your vacation but you will have the peace of mind of getting treated at home in the event of a serious injury.

emergency ambulance


Make Sure to Research More Than One Company

There are hundreds of thousands of insurance companies that want your business and it certainly pays to do your research before clicking the “yes box” and agreeing to one. What one company offers for $100, another might offer for $60. Many companies face off against each other in trying to offer the lowest price for the best coverage. Be aware of insurance deals that seem “too good to be true” as they generally are just that. Combing through the fine print of each insurance policy seems like a lot of work and we aren’t going to lie, it is. But it is a small price to pay to ensure you get what you want (and what you need.) Don’t make the mistake of assuming you are already covered by your current insurance provider or credit card either; which brings us to our next point.

Online Research


Check Your Current Coverage

Many credit cards, private insurance providers and even airlines have your back when it comes to travel insurance. It is therefore key to double check what you are covered for before paying anything extra. For example, many airlines offer free cancellation of flights up to a certain number of hours before, especially if you are a frequent flyer. Many hotels and car rentals also offer the same, as long as you haven’t paid the full amount. Credit cards often have some sort of travel insurance clause built into them, the easiest way to find that is to call and find out exactly what they cover. It may be that between the coverage you already have, you just need to purchase the bare minimum. If you have private medical coverage, double check which countries it covers. More often than not, insurance companies will offer a discount for multiple products so if you already pay for home and auto insurance; check that company out for a travel insurance quote.

travel insurance policy


Know and Discuss Your Medical History

If you are planning on any sort of medical travel insurance you best know your medical history, and be truthful about it, as it could come back to nip you in the behind. Most if not all insurance companies will want to know about past medical problems, surgeries, pre-existing conditions, etc. Providing the right information to your insurance company is an absolute must. Horror stories surface all the time of medical travel insurance not covering a very expensive bill because the traveler forgot to mention they had a pre-existing condition, or had surgery 15 years ago. It is a sad fact that travel insurance companies don’t particularly like to pay for large emergency bills and will try to find a loop hole wherever possible. Being upfront and truthful will ensure you aren’t left with a nasty medical bill.

Medical History Form


Ask as Many Questions as Possible.

There is no stupid question when it comes to travel insurance, especially in regards to what it covers. Chances are if you cannot get a question answered than that company isn’t for you. There is a wealth of information out there regarding travel insurance and many people take to the internet for suggestions and advice via messaging boards and reviews. Although this is a great way to gather information, it is not always truthful. We do suggest getting in touch with the company before you sign anything and asking any questions you may have. Whether you want to know how to file a claim in case something happens or whether you want to know exactly what types of medication is covered; they will have the answer for you.

phone call