Is Getting Travel Insurance Worth It?

Is Getting Travel Insurance Worth It?

You’ve probably seen the little box which asks you if you want to purchase travel insurance when you book a flight online. If you haven’t noticed it, It’s a couple of pages ahead along with the additional fees (budget) airlines add to squeeze every centavo out of you. For the frugal, this is exactly what you will think — extra cash fished out of your pockets.

But there are cases when you’ll be needing travel insurance (which can save you thousands if anything goes awry during your long awaited holiday). Before you scratch travel insurance off your list of necessities, here’s a checklist of questions to ask first to help you determine whether it’s actually worth getting one.

1. Do you have a recurring medical condition, such as hypertension or diabetes?

If you’re making frequent trips to the hospital, then consider getting insurance when you travel especially for long trips abroad. Although your main reason for the getaway is for rest and relaxation, you will need to travel for long hours to get there. If your blood pressure suddenly spikes along the way which requires you to be brought to the nearest hospital, you’d want to be covered. Hospitalization costs to where you’re going may be higher than in the Philippines, and may cost a fortune especially if you need to be admitted for a couple of days!

What to look for:
Coverage for medical expenses and medical evacuation. Also check if the plan covers pre-existing medical conditions. If you already have an separate medical insurance plan, better ask if its coverage includes travel to your destination before getting another insurance plan.

2. Are you a frequent traveler?

If you find yourself traveling for at least once or twice a month, there are annual travel insurance plans you might want to avail to lessen the cost of having to get insurance for every trip. (Compute first if this option does come out cheaper.) Especially if you’re traveling for your profession, and there’s no company to cover the insurance for you, the cost of missed flights (because of e.g. last week’s monstrous traffic), delays, and cancellation could really put a dent in your budget if it happens often.

What to look for:
Annual plans. Scrutinize the details and find a plan that fits the nature of your travels best. Be mindful of exclusions, and maximum days covered per trip.

solo luggage - Strange Luke - CC BY 2.0

A lone luggage lost at a train station. Photo by Strange Luke

3. Are you traveling with or bringing home any valuables?

SITA’s 2015 Baggage Report said that a total of 24.1 million bags has been mishandled at airports around the world in 2014. Although this number has significantly decreased from its peak of 46.9 million bags lost in 2007 after airlines and airports adopted several measures such as opening a lost baggage kiosk and adopting baggage tracking technologies, the fact remains that about 7 out of a thousand people will lose one of their luggage. So if you have anything expensive traveling with you, it better be insured or risk losing your money’s worth while in transit.

What to look for:
Loss of baggage, and/or Baggage delay. Some plans will cover the entire amount of the lost baggage, while others will have a ceiling amount. Be critical of this information before you purchase a plan.

4. Have you made any (expensive) non-refundable payment before your trip, for example for accommodations or tours?

Have you ever experienced saving up for an exclusive getaway for your family for months and then suddenly your companion, for example your spouse or child got sick on the day you leave? What if you already paid in full for the trip in full and the resort don’t refund or rebook no-shows. You can save yourself a lot of disappointment and wasted savings if you purchase a travel insurance before hand especially if you paid a lot of money in advance.

What to look for:
Trip Curtailment or Trip Cancellation or Loss of Deposits. Always check the reasons (for the curtailment or cancellation) covered per plan.

5. Are you going somewhere remote, or to a dangerous country?

If you’re planning to go somewhere remote or dangerous, it’s good to have a backup plan that if anything goes wrong, you got yourself covered. If you suddenly had an accident, or if there is suddenly pandemonium in the area you’re at, you can have peace of mind you can be transferred somewhere you can seek medical attention or somewhere safer.

What to look for:
Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation. Some insurers exclude war zones and dangerous countries, so always check the plan’s coverage first. If you’re going to a country’s border close to where the action is and it suddenly spills over to where you are, you don’t want to be surprised your backup plan has failed you.

travelin - solo

6. Are you doing something adventurous or extreme during your trip?

If you’re someone always on the lookout for adrenaline pumping activities, and travels to different places to get their fix, then consider getting yourself covered. The higher the risk taker you are, the more so you should get insurance. This way if any of your thrill seeking adventures bites you back in the face, you won’t need to spend a fortune to nurse it back to health.

What to look for:
Personal Accident, Medical Expense Reimbursement, Emergency Medical Evacuation and Repatriation, Hospital Confinement Benefit. Some plans exclude extreme sports in their coverage, so read plans first before buying.

7. Are you traveling to EU countries?

If you’re going to Europe, then you need to have a travel insurance with medical coverage because this is one of the requirements for a Schengen visa. You’ll probably be thankful for this when you suddenly get sick and find yourself surrounded by expensive hospitals!

What to look for:
Medical coverage. Make sure the plan has Schengen or worldwide coverage. This will cost you extra compared to domestic or Asian plans.

KLM window snow - Eric Page - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A thick sheet of snow covers the windows of a plane. Photo by Eric Page.

8. Are you traveling during the rainy season (or going somewhere during harsh winters)?

The weather is very unpredictable. Even light winds can bring a large amount of rain and totally ruin your vacation. So if you’re traveling during the rainy season (or winter) whether from the point of origin or destination, consider getting insurance to cover any losses you may incur if the weather turns sour.

What to look for:
Trip Curtailment or Trip Cancellation or Loss of Deposits. Practice discernment on this one. If you booked a budget flight, and travel plans cost more to have it insured, then it’s not worth it. But if you spent a pretty penny for your trip, then by all means get yourself covered.

 

If you answered yes to two or more items above (excluding #7 which definitely requires you to get one) then it is highly advisable that you apply for travel insurance. Basic plans start from as little as P300. Just be critical of the inclusions, exclusions, coverage, requirements, and how to claim before choosing which plan to get.

Travel insurance isn’t for everyone. But you don’t want unexpected expenses dash your experience and be the highlight of your long awaited vacation. Be wise enough to know when to get insurance for you and/or your companions to have the best worry-free trip of your life.

Have you decided to apply for travel insurance? You can compare coverage rates here!

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