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Travel Insurance – Should It Be a Priority?

Travel Insurance – Should It Be a Priority?

What do you think of first when planning a holiday or trip overseas? Judging by many published statistics it is safe to bet that for many people travel insurance is the last thing on their mind. It is not unheard of for people to phone and purchase insurance when on the way to the airport! That is not the smartest way to plan a trip, but better to purchase it late than not bother at all.

When your kids go off travelling or backpacking to other countries do you check whether they have insurance in place, or do you take care of it for them? Young people are less likely to bother with travel insurance – but parents are usually the first ones they call for help if something goes wrong – especially if they need money. Parents could save themselves a lot of potential worry and headaches by sending their young travellers off with the gift of travel insurance.

A Backpacker travel insurance policy is very affordable (literally pennies per day) with options to purchase additional cover if required. It may include any or all of the following: emergency medical care, hospital costs, repatriation, legal liability, legal costs, cancellation and curtailment, failed exams (re-sits), holiday abandonment, delayed departure, personal accident, personal liability, and more.. The sooner you purchase travel insurance after booking your holiday the better. You would be very glad to have it if a problem should arise causing the trip to be cancelled.

Following are some suggestions for priorities to consider before booking a trip:

  • Check for any government advisories regarding travel to your destination country
  • Check expiration dates of passports
  • Check Visa requirements
  • Check Expiration dates of European Health Insurance Card (EHIC), or apply
  • Book a health check with your GP, and required or recommended vaccinations for your destination
  • Once your travel plans are confirmed take out travel insurance immediately (to cover cancellation)

It is amazing that many people place priority on less important matters, such as purchasing holiday clothes or a good holiday read, or choosing gifts for friends and relatives overseas.

With millions of people travelling to other countries every year, it is shocking that so many still neglect to take out travel insurance. Those who plan to stay with friends or relatives are reported to be even less likely to bother with insurance – presumably believing that everything will be taken care of for them. If you are lucky enough to have unlimited funds then this may be the case. However, would you really want to burden your hosts, or feel comfortable asking them for a loan to pay your medical bills? Surely it is common sense and basic consideration for others to be responsible and have insurance in case unexpected problems arise?

It is always a good idea to check for government advisories for your destination country or countries before you book. If an advisory ‘against all but essential travel’ is in force and you go ahead and book anyway, this could invalidate any related claims on your travel insurance. Most insurers take the view that if a problem arises after you book then obviously it could not have been anticipated.

It is also very important (and wise) to research your destination country so that you are familiar with local laws and customs, to avoid innocently breaking the rules and perhaps incurring a hefty fine – or worse.

If your destination is a country such as the United States, for example, you are likely to face truly devastating medical bills if you should become ill or injured. Contrary to the belief of many travellers, your consulate or embassy does not pay these costs for you. They can offer general assistance in other ways, but you are on your own when it comes to paying the bills – unless you have travel insurance and a valid claim.

If you should become ill or injured to the extent that you have to be repatriated, perhaps by air ambulance with accompanying medical staff, the bill could be truly staggering. Without travel insurance and cover for repatriation the financial responsibility lies with you – or your family.

If you have never taken out travel insurance before, why not take the plunge next time and at least obtain a quote? It could be an eye opener to how affordable insurance can be, and how crazy it is to forgo it and take risks.

If you have pre-existing medical conditions it is crucial that you are honest and declare them and that the insurer agrees to accept the risk. This may (but not always) mean a slight increase in the premium, or the insurance may exclude claims relating to a specific medical condition.

There are many types of travel insurance policies so, before you opt for the cheapest one that you find online, go a little further and check to see what is included (and excluded) for your money. The main points to watch for – and minimum requirements – should be a good level of medical cover, which also includes repatriation and air ambulance costs. Most good comprehensive policies include this as standard. Also important is cover for personal liability and legal expenses. You can usually elect to have as much or as little cover as you think you will need.

You may have travelled many times without insurance and without any problems – and with any luck that will continue to be the case. However, wouldn’t it be better to be a little more responsible and get your priorities right?