Don’t Get Tripped Up on Trip Insurance.

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

When you make a big purchase such as a car, boat, house, television or jewelry it isn’t unusual to buy insurance to protect it against loss or damage. So why not your vacation? Just like these big ticket items a vacation can be something you’ve saved for years, but what happens when you get sick or you have to reschedule? According to a survey released last year by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association, Americans spent nearly $1.6 billion on travel insurance.

I was definitely one of those people who used to think travel insurance was just another way to get my money. I wasn’t one who changed their travel dates and nothing bad had ever happened to me on vacation…until it did. Well, indirectly, as it happened to my parents.

Several years ago my mom and dad were both turning 75 years old and they decided to take themselves on a big birthday cruise to South America. About 45 minutes out from landing in Panama to change planes to Sao Paulo my father took ill. He had to be transferred by ambulance to a local hospital. Given that my mother’s Spanish language skills didn’t go much beyond asking where the bathroom was, and the fact the hospital was asking her to give them $10,000 cash in order to treat my father,  I was very eager to get my parents home. Several phone calls later and less than 24 hours from when the incident occurred, they were transported home via an air ambulance. I was told the cost of the air ambulance was $20,000 and at the time I wasn’t thinking about how I would pay for it, I was just thinking I wanted them home. Once everything was stable and reality kicked in that I just put $20,000 on my American Express, my mother informed me that as part of the cruise package she paid an additional $745 for trip insurance. I was ecstatic! According to the contract any services related to medical emergencies including air ambulances were fully covered!

While this is an extreme example, you never know what can happen to you. There are a lot of reasons to buy travel insurance, and every policy is different. Here are a few reasons you should definitely think about buying it:

  • Medical emergency in a foreign country and/or needing medical evacuation
  • Flight is cancelled
  • Bags are lost
  • Trip needs to be cancelled due to illness
  • Travel supplier goes bankrupt
  • Terrorist incident
  • Hurricanes or other natural disasters
  • Passport or wallet is stolen

Ultimately, the decision to purchase travel insurance is very personal as it is directly related to cost. So the question you need to ask yourself is how much is your vacation worth to you if you’re not able to take it based on one of the reasons above. For your next vacation, as you’re putting your checklist together for items to take with you on that trip of lifetime, after a good book and before suntan lotion, don’t forget travel insurance!

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