Travel Insurance – Positives and Negatives

If you are a glass-half-full type of person you may not give much thought to the things that could go wrong when you travel overseas on holiday. You may even believe that travel insurance is an unnecessary expense. Some people are so optimistic that they think someone else will pick up the pieces of their broken holiday and pay the bills for them if things go pear-shaped. The glass-half-empty camp, however, are often more likely to be the worrywarts of the world, anticipating disaster and spending hours making sure they purchase the correct travel insurance. They check the policy document again and again to ensure that all planned activities are covered. They are often also the ones most likely to call the insurance company with additional questions – just to be sure – and why not! It is no good waiting until things go awry to start checking your policy document to find out whether you are covered for a specific incident or activity.

There is a saying that opposites attract, so in an ideal world a ‘half-full’ personality should pair up with a ‘half-empty’ – and everything would balance out so that they both have the safety net of travel insurance for their holidays! By now, anyone who has read articles about travel insurance should have some idea of the importance of taking out holiday insurance, no matter whether it is for a short city break, or round-the-world trip. Many people are unaware that most insurance policies also provide cover for travel within your own country of residence, usually with the requirement that accommodation for two or more nights has been booked in advance. The cost of travel insurance is tiny compared to the potentially astronomical costs if things should go horribly wrong. It covers a range of travel-related problems, such as:

Medical accidents and emergencies and hospital benefit
Liability claims and legal expenses
Cancellation and curtailment
Personal accident
Personal effects and baggage
Scheduled airline failure
Catastrophe cover
Mugging
Travel delay
Hijack
Missed departure
Pet care
If you are already thinking about next season’s ski or snowboarding trip why not put a reminder on your ‘to do’ list to purchase holiday insurance with winter sports cover. An accident on the slopes very often involves broken bones and head injuries, all of which are all very expensive to treat. If you are heading to the U.S. or Canada where medical costs are wallet-numbingly high, then it is vital to have a good ski insurance policy in place. Check that the policy includes adequate cover for medical expenses as well as cover for mountain rescue, helicopter evacuation, and air ambulance to repatriate you (if this should become necessary). Bills for these costs are very expensive and it is your responsibility (and yours alone) to pay them. Many travellers are under the false impression that their consulate or embassy will pay these costs if they do not have insurance, but that is not the case.

When purchasing holiday insurance it is important to review the ‘Schedule of Cover’; this is the section that sets out the various aspects of the insurance and the amount of cover provided for each under your chosen plan. Most companies will offer different levels of cover, from a Basic policy up to a Premier – meaning increasingly higher levels of cover and a corresponding increase in the premium.

Your choice of ‘level of cover’ may depend largely on your destination country. If you are just hopping across to Europe for a city break for a few days you may decide not to take out as much insurance as if you were going skiing in Colorado or river rafting in South America. If in doubt, always call the company and ask for advice before you buy.

If you live in a participating member country of the European Union always carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) when travelling within the EU. However, remember that the EHIC should be carried in addition to travel insurance, not as a substitute. The EHIC usually provides cover for emergency treatment on the same level as a national of that country. However, it does not cover non-urgent treatment, ongoing treatment or medical repatriation by air ambulance. It also does not cover lost or stolen luggage or property and a host of other travel-related mishaps that are all potentially very costly without insurance.

A basic cheap travel insurance policy or cheap Backpacker insurance policy is better than no policy at all, and additional cover can usually be purchased to provide cover for extras such as winter sports, business equipment, golf cover and photographic equipment.

It is wonderful to have a positive attitude to life, but trusting your holiday to ‘luck’ could be a very big – and costly – mistake. If you do not have travel insurance it could even result in financial ruin, and that would certainly wipe the smile off the face of even the most annoyingly optimistic person! Being a naturally happy-go-lucky person is a personality trait that should be preserved, so why risk shattering your holiday dreams – and that precious half-full glass…
Jean Andrews is an employee of Travel Insurance Agencies Ltd (TIA Ltd). Jean regularly contributes informative articles about travel insurance and travel related matters.
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