The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the position that any traveller needs to buy travel insurance to ensure that he has the necessary and appropriate protection against unforeseen events, including health emergencies, travel cancellations and vehicle accidents and many more. The question is: What is the best travel insurance to buy?
The choice for an appropriate travel insurance can vary from person-to-person depending on a whole host of factors. However, some key elements need to be considered in such a choice as part of your preparations to ensure you have an enjoyable trip. Here are the more important ones.
Appropriate Medical & Dental Emergency Coverage
You need to be aware of what medical or dental emergencies your travel insurance policy covers. In some countries, some insurance policies may not protect all medical events. Know and understand as many details as you can of the insurance policy.
You want to make sure that any medical emergency is covered. You do not wish to find during a medical event that your situation is not included in the coverage. Even something as simple as a cut can entail a trip to the doctor, and the last thing you want is to neglect it and make it worse.
Besides, if you are ill, wounded, or in any other situation which holds you in your holiday destination and prevents you from flying home, your travel insurance may reimburse you for any emergency accommodation until you can leave.
Every travel insurance policy is different, and what’s covered depends on how much you’re willing to pay. Typical medical services that you can expect to be covered include:
- Emergency hospital and medical costs
- Ambulance and air ambulance costs (and any medical escort that may be required)
- Outpatient services
- Physician and laboratory costs
- Prescription drugs
- Direct payment to the hospitals and doctors caring for you
- Assistance with bringing a family member to your bedside
- Air ambulance or commercial repatriation home
- Return of your vehicle if you are ill and need to come home
- Repatriation in case of death
In addition to medical emergencies, you also need to review the policy provisions regarding dental emergencies. If you fly, you are as apt as you are home to lose a tooth in an evil spill. Only imagine how, as little as a chipped tooth, it will be unpleasant if you need to wait until bet back home for treatment.
You may also want to check the coverage of preexisting medical conditions. According to the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers, a preexisting condition is “something that happened (or started to happen) before you were insured.”
Some policies may cover claims relating to preexisting conditions that are “stable and controlled” but read the definitions carefully. If you don’t declare a condition, the entire policy could be invalidated!
Coverage in Distant Areas
As part of your travel planning and preparations, you also need to think whether the medical facilities in the country or region you are visiting are accessible to you when you venture out to a remote part of such a country? If you are in an accident or experience a sudden illness while in a remote part of the country, you may have to take airlifts to a hospital in the central city. And the cost of an ambulance medivac may go up to thousands.
In the case of Canadian citizens or permanent residents, you need to check what your provincial insurance cover in cases of out-of-province or out-of-country trips concerning medical expenses.
Foreign hospitals can be extremely expensive and may demand payment before treating you and that they may require that you have appropriate insurance coverage. Provincial and territorial governments recommend buying extra travel insurance to cover any uninsured health care services that may crop up during your trip. For example, the Ontario Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long Term Care, for example, has certain guidelines for out of country medical services.
Trip Cancellations, Interruption, Schedule Changes
Flight cancellations or reschedule can wreak havoc on travel plans that are best made. Pandemic (such as the prevailing COVID-19 situation), climate, technical issues and strikes can result in you missing your connecting flight or failing to even get off the ground first.
Another scenario can be that you, your travel partner, or a family member cannot travel because of sickness, death, layoff, or a list of other acceptable reasons. Or your tour company or the airline you plan to use for the trip goes out of business or can’t perform as promised.
Not being left out of the bank is an incentive to buy travel insurance to cover these costs, but before you even start, you won’t be over budget
Replacement of Lost or Stolen Luggage
Sadly, it’s not unusual to lose your baggage and objects or have them robbed, when away from home. Maybe you’re gazing at the nearby sights and come back to find a lost backpack or suitcase.
What is the cost of replacing all? Even if you’re flying small, the price may be high. For example, you might have to pay to renew your passport and other travel documents or buy a new set of clothes inside your lost luggage. For these costs, travel insurance will repay you.
Many insurance policies do not provide coverage for what they would define as “risky” activities. Examples can include skiing or snowboarding “out of bounds,” skydiving, scuba diving, white-water rafting, mountaineering, or participation in any rodeo activity.
Look at your planned activities. If they include certain “high-risk” events on your trip, we recommend that you ask and get specifics before you lock in on insurance coverage. You may need to shell out extra, but it may be worth it for peace of mind
How Much Coverage Do You Need?
The coverage amount is dependent on a myriad of factors; one of them would be the degree of your risk aversion. However, securing a policy with a minimum of $1M maximum payable is generally a safe bet.
Notwithstanding, do not look purely at the numbers when choosing and deciding on a travel insurance coverage. We recommend that you read the fine prints of the policy. Every insurer has a list of situations, otherwise known as “exclusions,” for which the policy will not provide coverage.
Buying travel insurance may be overwhelming at first look since it will involve additional expense to add to what may be a tight travel budget. However, in our view, the need for prudence outweighs this.
The prevailing COVID-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the whole travel industry and amplified the importance of travel insurance. Different variables can influence the choice of appropriate travel insurance. But the bottom line is that travel insurance is a need rather than a want. You have to choose the right one for you.
If you have experiences and insights or any questions related to this topic, please share us your thoughts in the Comments section below.