As a travel writer and world traveler I hear about and see a lot of accidents and emergencies, medical and otherwise, that can cancel a trip immediately. Just like any other large investment, you need to be protected for even the most unlikely of circumstances. For any trip more than a few hundred miles from home, or any cruise, tour or other paid, organized trip, travel insurance is essential for peace of mind and peace of wallet. Travel and trip insurance can reimburse you for the cost of your trip in case anything goes wrong and it can also pay your medical expenses and the cost to get you home in case anything goes wrong.
Just a few years ago I was skiing with friends in Lake Tahoe, CA when, not five minutes into our first run, my friend fell and broke his collarbone. He was taken off the mountain by the ski patrol and to the local hospital. Fortunately, he had good health and travel insurance, and was taken home the next day accompanied by a nurse supplied by the travel insurance provider.
Accidents can happen anytime, whether you are skiing the Alps or walking down the street. You can be the safest, most conservative person in the world, but none of that matters if a car hits the taxi cab you are riding in, and that’s why preparation is essential.
Trip Interruption Coverage
There are two main types of travel insurance, each covering a different portion of a typical trip. The first type of travel insurance is trip interruption coverage. If your trip is interrupted for any reason, this covers you for the cost of your trip, cruise, tour, whatever.
This type of coverage does not cover your medical expenses or evacuation in case of medical emergency, but will cover the cost of your trip or tour that was interrupted. This may include airfare, hotel, rental cars or other specific travel costs.
The cost of this type of travel insurance is about $63 per $1000 of coverage. So for a cruise that cost $5000 including the cruise, airfare, etc., the travel insurance would cost about $315, a small price to pay for peace of mind. Coverage is available from the provider of your cruise, tour, etc., or can also be purchased from The Auto Club, AARP and other sources.
Medical Evacuation Coverage
While you may have medical insurance that covers your medical expenses, if you are very sick or injured while traveling, you may need to return to the USA immediately. As you may be unable to move, this could be via plane or even a private air ambulance plane. This travel insurance coverage covers your medical expenses in the case of accident or injury while traveling.
Imagine you are enjoying your trip to Paris. You’ve flown first class and are staying in a four star hotel, so it’s not exactly an adventure trip. Now imagine you trip and fall on the wet sidewalk one night while getting into a cab, and just happen to break your ankle.
Your normal medical insurance will probably cover the cost of the medical care, but you may be forced to return to the US as you are in pain and unable to walk. This is a case where you would need both types of coverage, medical evacuation and trip interruption.
There are many options for trip interruption coverage and general travel insurance. Review the policy details carefully. Also review the terms of your own health insurance prior to any travel to ensure you know the limits of your coverage.
For medical emergency and evacuation insurance, we use the TravelAssist coverage from DAN, the Diver’s Alert Network. Originally developed for SCUBA divers, the coverage is available to all travelers and is considered the best available on the market. DAN is a non-profit organization, and all members automatically receive $100,000 in medical evacuation benefits, plus a whole range of related emergency travel services.
DAN membership is $35 per year for individuals and $55 per year for families. The medical evacuation insurance is included in the price of membership. This is not for diving accidents, they offer specific coverage to members for dive related trips as well.
Many credit card providers also offer different levels and types of travel insurance so review your coverage before your trip.