Of all the things a travel advisor helps with, travel insurance may be the least interesting.
And I sincerely hope you never need it.
But boy howdy, if you're ever <heaven forbid ptew ptew ptew> in a position where you do need it, it's SO important to make sure that you have the right policy -- and understand what it does and doesn't do.
As a general rule, you can plan about 10% of your trip cost as a very rough guesstimate for how much to budget for travel insurance.
Let’s take a quick look at some reasons you might wish you had an insurance policy.
You have to cancel your trip ☹️
Most people don’t even want to think about this. You’ve saved your hard-earned money, you’ve got the time off, you’ve got a dogsitter lined, you’re going on this trip.
Unless you’re not.
I had a trip set up for an extended family, who were going to celebrate Christmas in Hawai’i. Everyone was healthy, happy, ready to go.
Then, a couple of weeks before the trip, one of the brothers stepped off a curb kinda funny, twisted his ankle severely, and – long story short – sepsis set in. So the whole family ended up canceling. Because they had a travel insurance policy – and because he had a medical professional treating him** – they were able to get a refund. Yes, they were sad because they weren’t in Hawai'i, but at least they hadn’t paid thousands of dollars to not be there.
**Anytime there's something going on that could affect your trip, DOCUMENT it. Get a note from the doctor. Go to the doctor, even if you feel mostly okay. The insurance company isn't reimbursing anything without a signed form from the doctor.
You have to interrupt your trip 😞
Sometimes, you get started on your vacation just fine and dandy.
Then something happens that causes you to need to cut your trip short. Maybe that’s a natural disaster like a hurricane, or <heaven forbid> a family member taking ill back at home. Or maybe you’re the owner of a business that needs your attention back at home because of a catastrophic event.
Whatever the reason, you’d have trip costs that were paid for, which wouldn’t be refundable. Or you might incur additional costs (like the costs of buying a flight 24 hours prior to departure, or a night of hotel that you weren’t anticipating).
You need medical attention during your trip 🤒
If you’re traveling domestically, this isn’t as big a concern for most people, since your personal health insurance should cover you.
But if you’re traveling internationally, this is one of the most compelling reasons to have a travel insurance policy.
A friend was on a Caribbean ocean cruise, and took ill with pneumonia while on the ship. The ship’s medical crew wanted to be sure she was in a proper hospital in case she went into respiratory distress, so they transferred her to the nearest onshore hospital, and sailed on. If she’d had travel insurance (she didn’t book this trip through me), the policy would have covered her medical expenses. But hey, she got some air miles for using her credit card, so….
You have baggage issues 🧳
As much as we all kinda’ joke about it, the airlines are actually pretty good at not losing people’s luggage.
But it does happen.
Or, more often, they just delay getting your bag to you.
My husband has what we call his “Paris shirts.”
Years ago – before I became a travel advisor -- we took a big trip to France, and my luggage arrived with our flight. His arrived several days later.
Because we hadn’t yet learned the lesson about packing a few things in each other’s bags, my CBB (Cute Blonde Boy, as he is affectionately called in my blog) had to go shopping.
We also had not yet learned the value of having a travel insurance policy. If we had, we could have gotten reimbursed for the shirts (and shorts…and socks…and toothbrush…) that we had to buy.
Other weird stuff 🥴
There are some countries (that I won’t name here, but are pretty popular with my clients) that are notorious for having worker’s strikes. If your train can’t get you to the next part of your trip because there’s a strike, the right insurance policy can at least reimburse you for the costs you incur to get there by another means.
One time, I was selected to serve on a federal jury, and the trial was projected to last for 8-12 weeks. It would have meant I couldn’t go on the trip I had planned. I ended up being dismissed because I knew one of the defendants, but if I’d served my full obligation, my travel insurance would have reimbursed me for the nonrefundable parts of my trip that I would have lost.
Many people remember first being aware of Iceland – and it’s hard-to-pronounce names – when the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in 2010, spewing ash into the air, and causing air travel across much of mainland Europe to be halted. I had 2 clients affected by that.
"CEO Joe" was scheduled to fly to Madrid, and had to reschedule flights a few times, causing him to lose a night of expensive hotel because he couldn’t cancel within the required 24-hour window. He also incurred some airline change fees. His travel insurance reimbursed those costs.
"Marketing Mike" was in Paris, and his scheduled flight home was cancelled. As was the next one. And the next. After a few extra nights in Paris (he actually used the phrase “I don’t want to be stuck in Paris” – does not compute), we got him on a train down to Madrid, where he could get a flight out.
Guess who wished he’d bought travel insurance?
Talk to your trusted travel advisor about your needs and concerns when you’re deciding on a travel insurance policy. There are several companies that write policies, and they all have several different plans. It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all product, so we want to be sure we get you the right one.
One last little piece of advice: It’s important to purchase a policy soon after putting down the first money on any part of your trip – ideally within 7 days. There are certain benefits that are only available if you purchase with a short window after the first payment.
I would be happy to help you find the answers to questions you might have about travel insurance.
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