What I Learned from Travel
Do you buy travel insurance? In most cases, you shouldn't. I certainly learned that from my travels.
In fact, I learned this from buying travel insurance specifically for a long trip from Canada to Australia. I was going to be out of my home country for almost a month, and I decided (despite the fact that I was a relatively healthy 34 year old) that I needed to have health insurance. I mean, you never know what will happen, right?
At least, that's what the travel agent told me.
What the agent didn't tell me is that there are really 4 kinds of travel insurance: travel medical; trip interruption insurance; travel cancellation insurance and insurance for your baggage and personal belongings. Some kinds of travel insurance could be very useful for you, depending on your circumstances. I've actually developed a grudging respect for things such as trip cancellation insurance (which is generally for medical reasons) and trip interruption insurance. But I steer away from trip health and insurance for my baggage and personal belongings.
Here's something that you should be careful of: if you buy travel health insurance, make sure that your primary insurance coverage doesn't have to pay for any claims first before you can claim on your travel health insurance. On my big trip to Australia, that was one detail I overlooked. The end result was that I actually had to go to the doctor in Australia for a nasty inner ear infection (don't ever fly with an inner ear infection), and I paid for the doctor visit out of my own pocket. That was what my policy required. When I got back to Canada, I put in a claim for the cost of the doctor visit. I believe it was at least three weeks later that I got my documentation back with a letter that said I had to submit the claim to the provincial health insurance before I could claim anything from my insurance! In other words, the insurance was only good for costs that were above what my primary insurance would already cover for any medical attention.
Heck, if all I was buying was the equivalent of deductible insurance, I never would have purchased it! Once I'd been through the hassle of getting the claim paid by my regular insurer (who couldn't seem to figure out the whole business of conversion from Australian dollars to Canadian dollars), my allowable amount to claim from my almost $200 insurance policy was about $8. I didn't even bother.
So, here's my quick reference for when and what travel insurance to buy:
1. Are you a senior? Do you like extreme sports? Get good travel health insurance. Your risk of a problem is much higher than the regular traveller who hangs out in museums or lays on a beach.
2. Do you have close family members who are elderly or ill? Get trip cancellation insurance that will cover you for a quick cancellation if one of those family members gets critically ill. Otherwise, you could find yourself on a plane out of country just when you want to be home.
3. Are you on an extended trip? Will you have connecting flights to make on any particular leg of your trip? Consider trip interruption insurance or "missed connection" insurance.
4. Do you have a gold or platinum credit card? Book your tickets using that card, and you likely don't need any baggage insurance. However, if you don't have such a credit card and you'll have connecting flights, consider extra baggage protection, especially if you are travelling with expensive personal belongings or gifts.
There's what I learned from travel.
Monique L. Attinger