Why do I need travel insurance?

Don’t think you need travel insurance? Here are five reasons why you’re wrong

It’s a common misconception that buying travel insurance is only necessary for a high-risk trip, or for people with an underlying medical condition. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. All travelers — whether they’re on business, vacation, or part of a tour group — need to know that buying travel insurance is essential preparation for most trips. Insurance is even more important if you plan to partake in any sort of adventure activities while on vacation.

Even if you’re the type of traveler who meticulously plans every moment of your trip’s itinerary, when you travel, things often don’t go as expected. Travel insurance offers you valuable benefits like peace of mind, global assistance, and financial protection to help you enjoy your trip. Here is a list of situations when you will be glad you decided to buy travel insurance before embarking on your trip.

  •  You arrive — but your baggage doesn’t 

No one likes arriving in their destination only to wait around for their lost bag to arrive. Even worse, if you’re traveling with expensive professional equipment, then lost luggage after a flight can be a serious financial setback and get in the way of a successful business trip.

If an airline loses your bag, or temporarily can’t locate it, baggage loss or delay coverage may reimburse you for any replacement costs incurred, and the insurance company will pay you a refund for some of your out-of-pocket expenses.

Lost bags happen more often than you might think: Data collected from 16 U.S. airlines in 2020 showed that 850,000 bags were incorrectly handled during the course of a flight.

  • In the event of a medical emergency or accident 

Whether it’s a rental car accident, heart attack, stroke, or an ambulance trip, emergency medical events can happen just as easily on a trip as they do at home. The difference is, if you or your family member get sick or have a medical emergency while you’re on a trip, the health insurance or medical coverage you have access to at home may not cover you, especially if you’re abroad. Depending on what country or destination you’re in, your medical expenses can quickly add up. Those travelers on US Medicare need to be aware that Medicare generally does not cover any medical expenses incurred outside the US.

Travel insurance is vital because it means you can seek out the care you need without worrying about incurring tens of thousands of dollars of charges you cannot pay. In addition, emergency evacuation coverage will also pay up front if you require an air ambulance in the case of a major medical emergency. Keep in mind that if you don’t have such coverage, paying for this out of pocket can mean a price tag of $100,000 or more.

It may not seem like it, but it’s a huge risk to travel without an insurance plan that provides emergency medical coverage, including medical evacuation coverage.

Most travel insurance providers also offer a 24-hour assistance line that can be advantageous in situations such as medical emergencies. The support center can help with things like finding a local doctor or hospital or even contacting family members in case of emergency. This provides enhanced peace of mind while on the road. 

  • You’re a victim of robbery or theft

Your passport, credit cards, electronics, travel documents — these are essential items on any journey and ones you can’t afford to lose. Should they go missing or get stolen, your trip can come to a halt rapidly. Most trip insurance plans will make sure that many of the costs and delays that are incurred while sorting out these urgent situations are refunded. Certain policies and insurance companies will also provide benefits such as helplines with urgent global assistance to help you organize and find replacements as soon as possible. 

  • Your trip changes or gets cancelled 

Travel is an exercise in unpredictability, and often, the dates and time of your non-refundable trip have to change — or you have to cancel your trip completely. Whether you have to cancel due to an unforeseen family sickness or injury, delay your trip due to a natural disaster, or your trip gets cancelled by an airline, trip cancellation coverage will make it likely that you receive a refund for at least some of your expenses from your insurance company.

Should you need additional accommodation, transportation, or meals as a result of a delay or change of plans, a good policy covers you for those costs, too. To benefit from trip cancellation, trip interruption, or trip delay coverage, it’s important to get a quote and then consider buying insurance as soon as possible after booking your trip. That way, you’re most likely to get your trip costs back if you have to cancel. 

  • For when you really need to come home

Sometimes, things are truly out of your control — terrorism, sickness, extreme weather or civil unrest come to mind. In these situations, trip interruption coverage can reimburse you for the unused part of your trip, plus pay for additional transportation expenses to return home. All travel insurance includes 24-hour assistance, which can help you make travel arrangements and ensure you get home safely.

Medical evacuation in the case of serious sickness or injury is certainly a worst case scenario and while thankfully not too common, can happen to anyone. If an air ambulance or medical escort is necessary, the costs can easily run into tens of thousands of dollars. As such, it’s a benefit you undoubtedly want to be covered for, specifically with a policy that will pay for any such evacuation up-front.

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