Because many unforeseen events may occur during a vacation, travel insurance is important for one’s safety and financial well-being. Not having adequate insurance while traveling may mean being denied at a hospital in case of an emergency, being stuck with a large bill due to an accident or not being compensated for loss or theft of one’s property. There are different types of travel insurance, each covering different areas and circumstances, and they may be provided separately or together depending on the plan.
Health insurance is absolutely needed when traveling, especially when traveling overseas. A traveler should check his or her health insurance policy at home to find out if coverage is provided when traveling, and, if so, what level of coverage is provided when traveling. Oftentimes, health insurance policies do not cover medical expenses when traveling or overseas. According to the U.S. Department of State, hospitals in some foreign countries may refuse to treat those who lack cash or insurance. Having travel health insurance can therefore mean the difference between life and death. It is therefore strongly recommended that all international travelers carry proof of insurance as well as a claim form.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those traveling to Third World countries or to remote locations lacking the standard of care provided in the United States should consider medical evacuation insurance, which covers the transportation costs to get a traveler to an adequate medical facility in case of an emergency. The CDC recommends that this type of coverage provide a 24-hour physician support center. This can be a part of a travel health insurance policy or can be purchased separately.
Travel insurance policies typically cover lost, stolen or delayed baggage while traveling. Baggage can easily get lost or stolen at airports. According to a study conducted by NerdWallet.com, a personal finance website, those who travel in December and January are more likely to lose their luggage at airports due to the increased volume of passengers during the holidays. The study found that mishandled baggage at airports may increase by as much as 35 to 45 percent in these months. Delayed baggage may cause a traveler to have to purchase clothing or other essential items while waiting for the baggage to arrive.
Travel insurance policies may also reimburse a traveler in case of theft. In some countries, pickpocketing is very common, with criminals in bus or train stations seeking to prey on naive tourists. In such cases, criminals may not only steal money but also important documents. Replacing these documents will cost the traveler money. The insurance company may require a police report as evidence that theft has occurred, in order to reimburse the traveler.
Trip cancellation insurance will cover the expense if a person has to cancel a trip due to an emergency. This type of insurance may cover a canceled flight, cruise, train or bus trip. This coverage is particularly useful given that airlines and cruise lines will show no mercy when it comes to reimbursing travelers who cancel a trip and have no insurance. A cancellation may occur due to forces beyond the control of a traveler, as when a delayed flight causes a traveler to miss a cruise. A major storm, such as a hurricane or blizzard, may force an evacuation of a vacation area or a cancellation of travel plans.
Depending on how comprehensive a traveler’s policy is, coverage may be provided in case a traveler accidentally injures or damages the property of another person and becomes liable. This can happen while driving, especially since the roads and signs may be unfamiliar to the traveler. Certain plans may also cover legal expenses in case a traveler is to get into legal trouble in another jurisdiction. An international traveler may break the laws of another country without realizing it or recognizing the gravity of it, given the differences in customs and laws between the countries.
Though travel insurance provides obvious protection in case of these and other circumstances, it is invaluable in the peace of mind it gives to travelers. Travelers will be able to enjoy themselves without worrying that an emergency will ruin them financially or cause them to lose their lives in unfamiliar terrain.