Travel insurance: whys and hows

Here’s everything you need to know about travel insurance

Travel insurance

Travel insurance: whys and hows. Source: shutterstock.com

Most travellers do not think about it, but a trip to another country can be fraught with a pile of unpleasant surprises. It can be a delayed or cancelled flight, lost luggage, unintentional harm caused to third parties, an accident, sudden illness, etc. Medical care abroad can be much more expensive than in your native country, so health problems can be complemented by considerable financial damage. Therefore, going on a business trip, travel, vacation, you should consider travel insurance.

Why do we need it?

Not all the countries have adopted a law on compulsory insurance for travellers abroad, but in most cases, the receiving party insists on having an insurance policy (especially if we are talking about European countries). It is better to have insurance if you go to Europe since European Schengen Area countries will not let you enter their countries without it. Moreover, they are fully entitled to demand an insurance policy for every day you stay in the European Union.

In case of visa-free regimes, it can be much easier, but you are still taking a risk: you may be denied entry if you are unable to provide a health insurance/medical policy at the request of the border control officer. But travel insurance is not only a formal requirement. You need a policy for purely personal reasons: if you have insurance you are covered for many unforeseen problems in a foreign country that you may not have sufficient money for.

Besides, the likelihood of health problems is higher during a trip than in your ordinary life: you travel on different types of transport through unknown territory with different traffic rules, so you may not pay attention to warnings in a foreign language; you can eat unusual foods, and drink water with a different chemical composition, etc. Furthermore, the difference in climate conditions and time zones creates additional stress. As a result, your body is less resistant to new infections.

Types of travel insurance

Although health insurance for travelling is considered to be the “core” of travel insurance, there are other additional services offered by insurers that might come in handy. Their range of services, as well as the amount of cover and the price of the complete insurance policy, depends on the insurance company you are working with.

Travel insurance

An appointment with a physician in a foreign country can cost you a lot of money without insurance. Source: shutterstock.com

Here are the most common types of travel insurance:

  • Medical. Yes, we’ll start with the most popular and the most obvious one. And yes, we know that you may have your domestic medical service (or even health insurance, if you have it in your country). But there is one thing we are not sure of: whether your insurance covers international travelling. Firstly, it will be a good idea to check whether your provider has such an option (and whether it is good enough). If you are not sure about this, do not hesitate to buy travel medical insurance.

A lot of people believe they are in perfect health, and we hope you are. However, who knows what can happen during your trip? You can break your arm stumbling through a pile of stones in France, or it was just a bruise? Who knows… Doctors know, and you have to check your arm, but an appointment with a physician in a foreign country can cost you a lot of money without insurance. Or maybe you eat contaminated/or too spicy food somewhere in Asia and require treatment for, let’s say, dehydration?

Moreover, some people confuse accident insurance with medical insurance. Payments related to an accident are made regardless of the amount of medical expenses incurred abroad since the amount is fixed in this case. For example, a contract may contain a specific figure (for example $10,000). This means that if an insured event occurs during the specified insurance period and results in injury to the insured person, as well as it possibly causing disability or death within a specified period of time (for instance, up to one year after the end of the insurance period), the company pays a certain percentage of the sum insured.

Medical evacuation is also a good sub-option. It is especially good when it comes to travelling to a remote area/region where it will be hard to find good healthcare institutions. In a nutshell, such a sub-type of insurance guarantees you’ll be transported to a healthcare facility as soon as possible (evidently, if an accident occurred).

Travel insurance

There are insurance policies with extra perks. Source: shutterstock.com

  • Trip cancellation/interruption, which can happen for multiple reasons, including illness, a civil war in the destination country, natural disaster-related emergencies, etc. Without this type of insurance, you risk losing up to 100% of the money you’ve paid for the trip.
  • Flight delay/cancellation. If your trip is time-sensitive, and the arrival time is really important for you, a cancelled/delayed flight can become a major problem. The reasons for this can differ: airline workers go on strike, airline goes out of business, etc. Anyway, it doesn’t change the fact that you’d miss your flight (or will not be in the final destination on time). Such a type of insurance can cover the expenses that arise when something happens to a flight.

Moreover, there are insurance policies with extra perks. For example, if the flight is delayed for more than three hours for any reason (and it is not your fault), and you have this point in your travel insurance policy, all documented expenses related to this situation will be reimbursed. It applies to food, drinks, hotel transfer (back and forth), hotel room, etc (you can read a more detailed guide on how to get flight delay/cancellation compensation here).

  • Lost/damaged checked luggage. Of course, it doesn’t work for gross negligence and deliberate destruction of your own luggage. If you’re bringing valuable items with you in your baggage, such as musical instruments or jewellery, insuring your luggage will help protect you financially if something goes missing. Moreover, especially valuable things should be insured in a separate contract for the amount declared by an independent appraiser.

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