If you had asked me about travel insurance back when I first started traveling I probably would laughed and used the words “silly” and “waste” as I brushed you off. My opinion was rooted in the idea that other insurance covers enough and that whole risk versus reality thing, a simple assumption that stuck with me for years.
But then I signed up for a Mount Rainier Guided climb where insurance was a requirement rather than a suggestion. Being a “savvy shopper,” I of course had to look at every option to find the best possible deal but more so to understand why this was such an important thing. Along the way I realized that the fool in the equation had not been those buying travel insurance but me for not doing so, at least sometimes.
Travel Insurance: It’s For What You Don’t Expect
As some in good health, with fantastic auto insurance and some high end credit cards, I always felt pretty well covered when I traveled. But as I explored the options I started to realize that was not always true and more so, I was underestimating what could go wrong.
- Get rear ended in a rental car and all my travel credit cards only offered up secondary insurance. That meant I would be on the hook day one, my regular insurance day two and then left to fight over who pays for the days the car was off the rental lot getting fixed.
- What about lost bags? Delayed flights? Storms impacting my travels? Insurance doesn’t cover all of those circumstances of course like the time I had to pay the drop fee for a rental car after a blizzard blocked our way back to the original rental spot but if I had needed (or used) hotels, it would have helped.
- And then there’s the whole medical emergency thing. Plenty of the travelers I know have written horror stories about getting sick or even injured overseas. At first I wrote those off as people trying to milk affiliate deals but then I thought back to that time I got in a car wreck in Brazil…. what if I had been the one with the broken arm instead of the driver? Is Kasier going to cover Sao Paulo hospital in network? At what cost?
Traveling is suppose to be about the adventure but there’s plenty of reality to consider too. Not every trip feels worth 40, 60, a hundred bucks for coverage but the more I’ve explored, the more opportunities I’ve had to see how helpful it could be.
Take my one and only (knock on wood) at fault car accident when I backed up into a pole on my way to Canada. I had skipped the car waiver, had I taken it, I probably would have been able to save that deductible and at least some of the rate increase. Thankfully I didn’t knock a building down but ugh!
Spend a Little, Potentially Save a Lot
A couple hundred dollars in deductibles is no big deal in the grand scheme of things but coughing it up certainly proved the value of having proper travel insurance coverage for me.
Buying insurance for trips with serious costs means I don’t have to freak if a storm system rushes in and wrecks everything (hint: airlines and guides do not issue refunds.) If I slip in the hotel lobby, get hit with a rock on a hike or come down with a nasty flu in transit, I can go to the doctor wherever I may be. But more than the catastrophic (because I still believe that’s for someone else!), the small benefits justify insurance for me.
- Travel delay: There’s a major travel delay from weather or incidents, I get help with the associated costs ($100-200 / day)
- Baggage delay: An airlines misplaces my stuff and I need a few basics, someone else picks up the tab ($100-200 / day)
- Baggage loss: My bags are gone forever, I get to replace a lot more of it than with just what they’d cover ($1,000-2,500 / trip)
- Cancellation: Something major happens to me, my family or outside in the world, I don’t lose the entire trip ($1,000-2,000)
- Interruption: Something goes wrong along the way and I need to bail out, same as above ($1,000-2,000)
- Rental car: Anyone hits it, I hit anyone (accidentally that is) and someone else handles it ($35,000 – $50,000 but other people / cars are still on me)
The Right Investment, Sometimes
This is not to say I buy insurance every time I hit the road. For as often as I travel, I do have some basic protections for things like mountain rescue and medical evacuations but most of my road trips are domestic, most of my adventures localish and the cost of insurance would be silly against a day’s drive (or I’m still just too cheap.)
I don’t see travel insurance as an end all solution or a perfect fix but it is a tool to consider for each and every adventure. I weigh the options, look at the potential risks and impact and then, when things are big enough or spendy enough, I factor it in to the plans.
Find Insurance for Your Trip
I’m an affiliate for a few travel insurance companies but honestly, I’m not stuck on any one company and usually just end up using Insure My Trip to compare the options and rates for each trip.