The decision to purchase travel insurance or not can be an important one. As with any kind of insurance, you are making a judgment call about risk that is, in the end, entirely up to you. Here’s more information to help you make the decision for yourself.
What does travel insurance cover?
This is entirely dependent on the policy that you purchase. Comprehensive medical coverage, lost luggage, trip cancellation, theft, travel delay, car rentals…these things may or may not be covered by your plan. Medical care has the potential to easily become the most expensive thing on the list, especially if you consider hefty emergency fees and the potential for an airlift to another city or even country to receive better care. Although, the health care reform tax credit recently put into place might spell relief for certain situations. Some unlucky travelers have gotten sick or injured abroad and had their bills run into the tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. By comparison, even the ultimate disappointment of having a laptop or iPod stolen seems like nothing. Research plans fully to understand any exceptions and exemptions in the fine print. Sure, you have medical coverage, but does it include extreme sports? Injuries sustained while riding a motorbike? Emergency air travel? Be sure what you’re paying for.
In addition to considering the above question of coverage, monthly premiums depend on the type of plan, your country of origin, and your destination. Is this annual insurance that covers you on all of your frequent jaunts abroad, or a one-off for your summer break backpacking trip? Are you traveling to the United States, where medical care can be astronomically expensive, or to central Africa, where treatment standards may be somewhat lacking? Insurers evaluate a myriad of factors in determining your premiums. Excellent coverage can cost around 100 Euros per month, plans covering fewer eventualities or lower maximums will be cheaper.
Once again, this is a decision that you have to make for yourself. That’s a fair amount of money out of your pocket, but peace of mind is a valuable thing. If you find yourself in any number of unfortunate and expensive situations, you may be pleasantly surprised by your insurer picking up the bill for you. Shop around to get quotes from multiple providers, and be specific in your questions regarding coverage.
The best way to avoid problems abroad is simple common sense. Take care of your body, read reviews of adventure and extreme sports companies to find out more about their safety records, and think carefully before engaging in anything dangerous (more expensive companies offering extreme activities may include insurance). In the end, though, you can never prepare for every eventuality or potential accident. Travel insurance may be the best way to prevent an unlucky backpacker’s dream vacation from becoming a nightmare expense.