Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Lifestyle: Hazards of Travel Insurance

It's never been a better time to talk about travel insurance than during the summer break, where the likelihood of taking vacation is the highest. We usually don't think that something serious or catastrophic can happen during vacation time; after all, it is a time to relax, unwind, and get away from the seriousness of life. However, lots of unforeseen situations can happen when we're traveling.

As a young adult, I used to frequently travel domestically and internationally for months, and never thought of buying travel insurance. In fact, I had never even heard of travel insurance. Once, while I was backpacking through the US Eastern coast for a few months, I met a German girl in New York who asked me if I had travel insurance. It was the first time I ever heard of it and I had no idea why I would need it for. When you're young and just traveling around, you never think about the unforeseen situations.

Having worked in the travel insurance business for several years, I understand now the need to have some form of insurance while away from home. However, here's one alert: if you're going to purchase travel insurance, make sure to read the fine lines and understand what you're going to be covered for before electronically signing the contract. You see, most people just click and sign it, and obviously don't read the terms and conditions, and when something happens... well, it's just not covered. Take a pre-existing condition, for example. If you already suffer from high blood pressure and the reason to buy travel insurance is to cover your medication, or a visit to the doctor to check your high blood pressure, think again. Most travel insurance doesn't cover pre-existing conditions. But if you get food poisoning from the fish street vendor in Thailand that smelled delicious, then your visit to the doctor could be covered, although you might have to pay upfront and then ask for reimbursement. Be sure to take some cash for unpredictable expenses even if you have travel insurance!

I used to get frequent calls from irate customers asking to have their travel insurance cover the cancellation of their trip because they didn't like the itinerary offered to them on a flight bidding site. "I can't travel at midnight with 2 young children and then return at 5 am 2 days later; I have to change this itinerary!!!" - guess what? Not covered! If you had read the fine prints before signing the agreement, you would know that dissatisfaction with the itinerary is not a covered reason to cancel a trip... You also get that shopper who only does the research after the purchase... yes, those exist. Once, the gentleman was screaming about the horrible itinerary that was, in fact, more expensive on the bidding site than if he had purchased it directly through the airline, demanding a cancellation. Really? You bought the most expensive first and then realized there was a cheaper way to buy the same flight? Sorry. Not covered.

Also, beware of lost luggage. Most suitcases end up being found by the airline, so in fact the luggage is delayed and not lost, which is a huge difference. You won't get money upfront. No need to call yelling that your business suit was in the suitcase and it cost you 2,000 dollars and you can't go to your business meeting in jeans. The delayed luggage insurance may cover just a few hundred dollars and you must first prove that the luggage was delayed for a certain amount of hours. In the likelihood it is not found, you will have to first obtain the claim from the airline with supporting documentation that it has been deemed lost, and then, after the airline compensates you for the loss, you can make a claim on your travel insurance.

Seems hard? Not worth it? May be not worth it for minor claims like that. But take the case of the businessman that fell and hit his head in the marble floor of a hotel in East Asia. In a coma for several days, he had to be moved by air ambulance back to the US. The cost of the air ambulance? A whopping $120,000.00. Luckily, his travel insurance benefit for medical evacuation covered up to $200,000.00.

The important thing about travel insurance is to make sure your coverage is ample enough to cover you in a real emergency situation. You don't want to be sitting at a hospital in a remote location in Africa, where the bed sheets are only changed once a month and you have to pee in a bottle. You want to make sure you can fly out of there as soon as possible to the most convenient hospital that can treat your poisonous spider bite! Have a great adventure and don't forget your travel insurance!


  1. I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

  2. But you have to make it sure that you are prepared for unforeseen events during your trip.I think the best way to enjoy an event is to travel through travel insurance as it will do their maximum to save you and ultimately their lose at the end.