Travelling the world is glamorous.
Until it isn’t.
Things can go wrong in the most unexpected ways and most inconvenient times. I wish I could say the last 5 years of travel has been 100 percent smooth sailing. But in the moments when plans went pear-shaped or events took a turn for the worst, I was glad to have travel insurance.
It’s the one thing I travel with that I hope I never have to use.
So be smart and choose a travel insurance plan that meets your needs and protects your loved ones. It’s a small cost for peace of mind.
Take it from me, I learned the hard way. When I first started travelling I thought I was covered by my credit card’s awesome “free” travel insurance only to find out when it was time to make a claim the coverage expired a specific number of days after departure and I was left exposed. You don’t want to get caught out by “holes” in your travel insurance coverage or subpar support when the rubber hits the road.
But in case you’re still thinking of gambling with your safety, health and material possessions, here’s a gentle reminder about a few ways things can go wrong while travelling.
1) Flights get delayed or cancelled
This is probably the quickest way to lose a chunk of change while travelling. No travel insurance plus missed flight equals sad face.
But beyond flights, good insurance will cover a cruise, trains and other transport. A couple years ago I was on the way to Heathrow Airport in London when a truck rolled ahead of us over on the motorway, brining traffic to a standstill. The delay was painful, but fortunately travel insurance covered the cost of new flights and last-minute accommodation.
2) You get sick… and need a doctor
Travelling to an exotic destination sounds dreamy. Attempting to communicate with a doctor who speaks another language or dealing with healthcare that’s not to your usual standard is definitely not dreamy.
A while back my son, Caius, was sick in Guatemala and I knew what type of medication he needed from the pharmacy. The only problem? I only spoke about 5 words in Spanish at the time. Using a combination of contorted hand gestures, body gyrations and pseudo-chicken sounds, it only took 45 minutes to finally extract the correct medication from the confused looking pharmacist. I lost more than a few hairs on my head that day.
Quality travel insurance can connect you with professional health care providers that speak your language and know what they’re doing.
3) You get really sick or injured… and need a hospital
This is one of those events that hopefully never happens while you’re on vacation. Not only can a hospital visit put a big dent on the fun meter, but can also rack up a bill for thousands of dollars very quickly.
My son fell from a bunkbed in Israel and broke his arm. Fortunately, our travel insurance covered the hospital bill and follow-up doctor visits.
4) Items are damaged
Whether careless airline baggage handlers dropped your precious suitcase or your camera took a swim in the hotel pool, there’s no shortage of weird and wonderful ways your belongings can get broken or lost.
I’ve dropped and broken my phone several times during our travels and even had my laptop screen cracked, and thanks to choosing the right travel insurance coverage, these inconvenient blips were covered every time.
5) Items are stolen
Tourists are prime targets for thieves. They have a pocket full of cash (or credit cards) and are often too preoccupied with a new destination to put a little common sense into protecting their valuables.
Theft can happen anywhere anytime. I was pick pocketed during an Easter festival in Central America even though I had my hand in my shorts pocket protecting my belongings. Fortunately, with my travel insurance, a replacement phone found its way into my hands sooner than later.
6) Your identity or credit card is stolen
Theft on vacation doesn’t just happen to your belongings, but it can happen to your identity too. Less-than-savoury characters can steal your credit card details or make use of your identification documents (such as driver’s license and passport) to rack up debts in your name.
Sometimes the bank issuing your credit card will have a layer of protection, however if you’re left out of pocket, travel insurance can step in.
I’ve had my credit card stolen in the United States and understand the frustration and wasted time involved in trying to block the card, issue a new one and have the fraudulent charges reversed. Like you, I’ve got much better things to do on my travels rather than deal with these headaches.
7) Rental car damage
Rental car companies can charge very high rates for Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) or similar protection. Sometimes a generous credit card rewards scheme will include this kind of protection when you pay for the car rental on your card. However, there may be substantial limitations so read the fine print.
So, check the optional extras with your travel insurance to ensure you’re covered for all aspects of car rental, even if it’s an optional extra, as it will usually be much cheaper than paying the rental company for the same protection.
Ok, I’m convinced. Now what?
I’ll be honest. When it comes to travel insurance, there are very few providers that I would recommend. But Generali Global Assistance is one of them. They’ve been around since 1831 and are one of the largest insurance providers in the world. Generali are helping people all the time – in fact, they handle 2 calls every second worldwide.
Why I like Generali Global Assistance:
- Purchasing travel insurance is easy on their revamped website. Generali are also responsive via Twitter and Facebook.
- A global presence with 35 assistance centres, 400 health care professionals on staff plus 750,000 certified assistance partners. They cover 208 countries.
- Higher coverage options for stolen/damaged items.
- Approved reasons for trip cancellation includes extended family members.
- You can have up to 10 travellers listed on one plan (which saves money).
- Free access to “Teladoc” - virtual doctor service that connects you to medical experts via video from anywhere in the world.
- Free assistance and protection from identify theft for US based bank accounts – for 180 days from the date of scheduled departure.
- They offer a refund within 10 days of insurance purchase if you aren’t satisfied and haven’t made a claim or already left on your trip.
The Bottom Line
Your vacation is precious. Consider the total cost of travel – flights, hotels, ground transport, tours, activities plus the value of your luggage. Then consider the small cost to cover yourself from the unexpected with travel insurance. The choice now becomes easy. All you have to do is choose which plan best suits you and you’re one step closer to enjoying that luxurious long drink on a dreamy tropical beach. After all, that’s really what a vacation is all about.