A lot of travellers forget about insurance, or perhaps consider it unnecessary. It is tempting to take a chance and save a little bit of extra money for souvenir spending. But what if you have an accident or some sort of medical emergency when on holiday?
It is best to be prepared. If you are not insured on that lovely ski holiday in Austria and you break a leg (or both legs, or even an arm and a leg) the medical and evacuation bills could be astronomical. If you are not insured, how are you going to pay them?
You may already have some very basic insurance cover linked to your credit card, if you pay for your flights by credit card. Most major credit cards have this facility, though in some cases they must be “activated”. Find out (in writing) exactly what insurance benefits your card company offers. If you have a premium card such as a gold card, or higher, the automatic cover may be extensive. With an entry-level credit card the insurance cover may be very basic, possibly limited to the immediate costs of a medical emergency and nothing else. Even then, it may be an insufficient amount of cover.
If the “free” insurance is inadequate you should buy top-up insurance. The bank or credit card company may offer this. You could also shop around, though, as many insurance companies sell top-up insurance for credit card holders with basic travel insurance.
Bearing the above in mind, here are a few ‘musts’ that should be included in your cover:
- Medical emergency
- Medical Evacuation or repatriation
- Medical expenses – due to terrorism
- Accompanying family member
- Compassionate emergency visit by one person (some companies will restrict this to a family member)
- In-flight accident
- Lost baggage (including delayed baggage)
- Death (removal of mortal remains)
- Follow-up treatment in your home country
- Travel delay
- Premature return in case of death of a family member
- Legal assistance
- Personal liability. (This could prove to be a big problem if you, say, knock over a camel that was trying to sleep on the road, while you are in Dubai. You may find out that it was a very ‘special’ camel to the owner and you have to ‘cough up’ for it. … For some reason favourite camels seem to suffer many more tragic accidents than unloved ones.)
Some of the above, such as baggage, are regarded by insurers as optional extras. If you are carrying special equipment, such as cameras, expensive sporting equipment (specific “Golf insurance” is available) or other valuable goods that are pricey, check if they are covered under the baggage cover. If not, and some travel insurance companies don’t cover these items (except for a low maximum amount not equal to the actual value) consulting your broker for specialist advice about this may be helpful.
In most cases you should insure with a company based in your home country as they will have worked out appropriate risk profiles. Travel insurance from a foreign company is less likely to have adequate covering and claims are more likely to be repudiated or payouts reduced.
Many countries require proof of travel insurance, sometimes not below a certain amount and may be a visa requirement, for instance for Schengen visas.
As with all guidelines on this web site, the above is based on my own professional experience and my personal travel and does not replace the advice from your registered broker. The main thing is to be adequately insured. You never know when it will be needed!