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When planning your next trip abroad one of the items that should be dealt with first is not the plane ticket or hotel reservation but travel insurance.
I know, it’s not the most interesting of expenses in your travel budget and finding that bargain airfare is a lot more fun. However, things do go wrong and the more you travel, the more you are likely to need to use that policy if an emergency arises.
It goes without saying that you should never find yourself in a foreign land without insurance and I doubt that any of our readers would seriously consider doing so. Cover is not expensive – it is only a small proportion of the overall cost of a holiday – so instead of focusing on the price make sure you get the best policy you can and not just the cheapest one.
Before you even begin, do your homework by reading up on these common travel insurance mistakes and how to prevent them.
The most convenient type of travel insurance is an annual policy – preferably one that is automatically renewed by direct debit so you don’t need to think about it too much. Even if you only expect to go on a few short trips over a 12 month period this should work out cheaper than single policies each time.
Check the details thoroughly to ensure that the basic policy gives you the coverage you need and remember that travel to the USA will usually require an extra fee due to the extraordinarily high cost of medical care in the event of an accident. You should also inform the insurer if you have very expensive camera gear or plan to take part in extreme sports as these are other cases in which special clauses are required.
A good insurance policy includes cover if you have to cancel your trip, if your bags are lost or delayed en route, for medical care and repatriation if the worst happens and you get sick or injured or your belongings are stolen. If you travel as a family take out a a joint policy to cover all members.
Just to underline the importance travel insurance really is, I’ll finish by giving you four actual examples of occasions I have had to claim over the last 14 years. I certainly don’t regret the premium payments I have made during that time…
- Cancelled trip – we had a relaxing package holiday planned to Greece to take it easy before the imminent arrival of our daughter. A couple of days before we were due to fly out Mari Anne started experiencing serious stomach pain which turned out to be appendicitis and she was rushed to hospital. No holiday for us, but not only were we grateful that her appendix had not waited until we were on a Meditteranean island to start acting up – we were able to reclaim the cost of the holiday on our insurance policy.
- Medical coverage while abroad – some years later we did make it to Greece, this time with our daughter. Two weeks spent mostly under the water in hotel pools gave Rebecca a nasty ear infection and necessitated multiple visits to a highly impressive local clinic. We were able to reclaim the costs of health care and medication on our return.
- Cancelled trip (again) – this time we were off to Berlin for a rock concert and a long weekend. Well, that was the plan until Mari Anne slipped on some stairs and injured herself a week before and the doctor banned her from air travel. On this occasion we were refunded the flights, accommodation and also the concert tickets.
- Delayed bag – to bring things up to date we just got back from a family holiday in Florida and after a delayed flight it turned out that one of our bags had decided to travel elsewhere. As this contained most of our clothes and was AWOL for five days, we had to buy clothes and toiletries to keep us going and are now in the process of claiming these expenses.
So there you go – I hope you never have to make a single claim and that we don’t have to make any more but life isn’t really like that. By now I hope I have convinced you of the value of travel insurance – enjoy your next journey!