Travel insurance is an essential item to have along with our visas and travel plans, but it is often overlooked by travellers planning their trips. There’s never been a better time to add travel insurance to your trip plans, with potential problems with flight cancellations, flight delays and Covid-related issues. Whether you spend money on a long-awaited trip or a quick getaway, travel insurance can save you money, and time if things go wrong.
Why Travel Insurance?
Just like we shouldn’t drive a car without car insurance or not have health insurance despite earning, why would we risk travelling the world without travel insurance? Many people cite expenses and budget constraints while avoiding travel insurance. However, it offers a safety net for any accidents while travelling abroad.
Travel insurance helps protect travellers from sickness and injury, cancelled flights, damaged electronics, lost luggage, and even the death of a family member at home.
In short, travel insurance offers the insured party an all-emergency-covered safety net. Such plans are among the most critical items on your buy list when planning your trip. It is strongly advised that travellers never start a journey without it. Travel insurance can help save people a lot of unnecessary expenses and hassle.
Advantages of Travel Insurance
Travel insurance covers issues such as stolen luggage, injured feet, broken phones and medical treatment. All of these items are expensive on their own. When you consider the different prices of things in other countries and our weak currency, you should get a healthy appreciation for travel insurance and the safety net it offers to travellers.
Travel insurance aims to ensure that you don’t lose a lot of money if an emergency happens while you are abroad. Since most local health insurance programs don’t cover overseas travel and travel credit cards offer limited protection, buying travel insurance is something you need to protect yourself against the unknown.
Since travel insurance is a complex and essential part of trip planning, you must understand what it is about and learn how to pick the best travel insurance plans
Features of a Great Travel Insurance Plan
Insurance is a billion-dollar industry; everyone wants a share of the insurance pie. People new to the experience may find their minds numbed by the different options, number of companies, policies, and terms that can be confusing and overwhelming.
And, you will learn that, at times, plans are not as good as they are shown to be initially.
- Coverage Limit First, make sure your travel insurance offers a high coverage limit for any medical expenses. A good company will provide high amounts of covered care, though the more expensive a policy is, the higher your coverage.
High coverage limits are necessary because if you get sick and have to seek professional care, you want to make sure your high hospital bills are covered. The worst thing you can do is go cheap and get a policy with a $minimal coverage limit. With such a minimal limit, you will not get adequate care and end up losing money by not paying enough premiums.
- For emergencies, make sure that your travel insurance policy covers emergency evacuation and care that is separate from your medical coverage.
If a natural disaster occurs and you need to be evacuated somewhere else, your plan should also cover that. Additionally, make sure you understand if your evacuation coverage will pay for you to go home or if it will just send you to the nearest medical facility. For example, most insurance policies will pay for your hospital bills if you break your leg abroad. However, they won’t pay for you to get home since it’s not a life-threatening injury requiring advanced care.
Standard emergency evacuation coverage frequently only moves you if your current facility is inadequate or if it’s “medically necessary.” Only then will they pay for a flight home.
- Coverage Provisions most top travel insurance plans always include the following provisions:
- Coverage for specific countries in the world (including the places you plan to visit).
- Some coverage for your electronics (and the option for increasing this coverage limit).
- Coverage for injury and sudden illnesses.
- Offer 24/7 support (you don’t want to call to be told to call back later, specifically during an emergency).
- Coverage for lost, damaged, or stolen possessions like jewellery, baggage, documents, etc.
- Coverage for cancellations for hotels, flights, and other transportation bookings if you have a sudden illness, death in the family, or some other emergency.
- Coverage for political emergencies, natural disasters, or strife in the country causes you to head home early.
- Financial protection if any company you use goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country.
If you travel with a camera, laptop, phone, and other expensive electronics ensure you have suitable coverage. They’re usually the things most likely to be lost, get stolen, or broken.
Items Not Covered By Travel Insurance
Just as important as knowing what your plan covers is learning what it doesn’t cover. Generally speaking, most plans don’t cover the following:
- Accidents that take place while participating in extreme adventure activities like hang gliding, paragliding, or bungee jumping (unless you pay for extra coverage).
- Alcohol- or drug-related incidents.
- Carelessness in handling your possessions and baggage.
- Recklessness (how “reckless” is defined is a matter up to each company).
- Pre-existing conditions or general check-ups. For example, you won’t be covered if you have diabetes and need to buy more insulin. You aren’t covered if you want to see a doctor for a general check-up.
- Lost or stolen cash.
- If you leave something in plain sight or unattended, your theft coverage won’t cover you.
Travel Insurance Loopholes: Issues To Avoid
- Even the best travel insurance has its limits. In the fine print, you’ll often find that plans aren’t as good as they seem. For example, the medical portion of travel insurance is generally more about emergency care than being a replacement for your everyday healthcare. Many people who purchase travel insurance with the expectation of squeezing some free treatment out of it will be disappointed when they find out they can’t get an annual physical with it.
- Remember that you get what you pay for. If you see two companies offering similar plans, but one is cheap? Think why?
- Usually, it’s because the cheaper company is saving on human resources and will have smaller payouts, or take longer to process claims, reject more shares, or have so many rules in the fine print that it turns out you aren’t going to get paid when you think you are!
- Travel insurance is accident insurance. It is there to protect you in case of emergency and if needed to get you home in a hurry without breaking the bank. If you want a global health plan (because you’re now an ex-pat or digital nomad living abroad), you need a completely different type of plan from regular traveller insurance.
Picking the Right Travel Insurance Policy for Your Trip
Here are critical considerations for choosing the travel insurance plan that will match your needs.
- Where you’re going, if you’re travelling outside of Pakistan, a plan with travel medical insurance is needed because you may have little to no coverage under your regular health plan.
If you’re taking an international trip, emergency evacuation coverage is essential, especially if you plan to visit a remote area that doesn’t have top-quality medical facilities.
- How you’re getting there. Travel plans can be derailed by weather, aeroplane mechanical issues or other unexpected situations. If you’re worried about paying extra money for expenses due to a delay, you may want to look for a plan with generous travel delay insurance.
- What you are doing If you have made a number of prepaid, non-refundable deposits for activities, lodging and tours, it is essential to have trip cancellation coverage. This holds for trip interruption insurance as well.
Travellers who plan to participate in extreme sports or adventure trips should consider investing in a plan that covers these activities, as they’re often excluded.
- Concerns about Covid and variants. If Covid is a concern, look for a travel insurance plan that covers Covid-related cancellations and medical costs. The best Covid travel insurance plans include “cancel for any reason” coverage.
How much flexibility do you want? If you want the freedom to cancel a trip or opt for a “cancel for any reason” upgrade. You usually have to buy it within the first few weeks of making your first deposit. Similarly, you can buy an “interruption for any reason” upgrade that lets you cut a trip short and return home for any reason.
These upgrades are perfect for the traveller who has put down substantial prepaid, non-refundable deposits.