Insurance. It’s the cost before we travel that we question, for long trips it’s not a simple £20 and it’s sorted. A lot of insurances cost upwards of £200 for adventures we all dream about which can equate to around 50 nights accommodation in some budget countries. We tell ourselves it'll never happen to you, but just trust me when I say the moment you need it you are seriously bloody grateful you have it - I'm talking from experience here. I constantly hear people asking me why I’m happy to dish my dollar over to the dark side in exchange for a ‘what if’ policy.
That is of course what it is. It’s a backup, a ‘just in case’ scenario that will help sort you out if the worst was to happen. You can laugh all you want but it’s almost like the modern day equivalent of a fairy godmother. Sure, it’s not as easy as clicking your heels three times and a slightly plump women with wings appears, waves a magic wand and fixes that broken arm of yours. But, if you do snap that arm in half, it will cover the huge medical costs associated with it and get you home if you need it. Now that £200 it starting to sound like a bloody good deal when the average last minute flight home can easily cost £700 and don’t even get me started on medical care costs!
Don’t get me wrong, I agree that a lot of the time you don’t get your money's worth and that, as with all insurance companies in all insurance industries, trying to get your money back afterwards can be rather hard work. There are loopholes left, right and centre when it comes to covering flight delays and the like. Ash clouds over Bali are an ‘Act of God’ and so no-one is bothered when you miss out on your trip - suck city here! BUT; it’s worth it’s weight in gold when it comes to medical. The only way they can get out of paying for it all is if it’s proven you either were committing suicide or if you were under the influence of illegal substances… Other than that, they have to pay out millions of pounds or dollars to ensure that the correct medical care is given to you. They can also cover the costs for a family member / friend etc to fly out and stay in a hotel wherever you are until you are well enough to go home. When going home, if you’re not fit enough for a passenger plane, they send you home in a ‘air ambulance’ which is essentially a private jet with doctors on board to look after you until you’re back to a hospital at home.
You’ll find that different travel insurance companies have policies to suit certain clientele. For example, some will have adventure sports included in their policies while others are specifically for the over 60s. It’s key you pick a policy suitable for whatever your trip needs are for obvious reasons.
I’ve listed a few of the things that travel insurance will cover for you, and it pretty much will cover all eventualities as you can see.
Medical - Everything from dentist requirements to transport & accommodation, search and rescue if lost and funeral costs or repatriation to your own country for burial by your family - these are the heavy hitters, the big cost items you don’t want to leave to your grandma to have to cover!
Personal Accident - Death, loss of limb / sight etc, repayment of student loan and total disablement (so if you end up unable to work or move)
Luggage - There’s a huge list for this one but essentially you’re stuff goes AWOL and the insurance company will cover the costs minus the excess. This is the best if you're stuck goes within the first few weeks of travel as they’ll help you replace everything while on the road which can be rather essential. You don’t want to be wandering around in the same clothes you’ve had on for months!
Legal - If you get blamed for something you didn’t do, you’re sorted. What happens in Puerto Rico, stays in Puerto Rico right?
Other Cancellation - Loss of passport, abandonment, missed / cancelled departure etc.
There are a lot of other things covered, but these are the basics you’ll find in most insurance policies. Just check the insurance premiums as some companies require you to foot a lot of the bill before they chip in, or only cover you for a small amount (ie. Your phone is stolen & worth £1000. The policy says there is a £800 excess before they pay meaning you only get £200 back. A lot of companies are better that than but just double check - expect to contribute a small amount towards this though!) Don’t panic - insurance can be confusing but the people you buy it from are trained to talk you through it and help you understand so ask them to help!
One last awesome feature of insurance to note is that from the moment you purchase it, you're covered! Even if you policy doesn't technically start until the date of cover, if you walk out the building and get hit by a bus meaning you can't travel, the insurance will pay for the trip refund so you won't be out of pocket. Or if you were travelling with a friend and they can no longer go because they got hit by a bus, your insurance will generally cover you staying home too if you no longer want to go alone. But maybe steal clear of buses for a while just in case...
I could list a million and one horror stories that would make you book that travel insurance in even if when you weren’t dashing off travelling soon but feel free to google it yourselves. Just know that it’s the best thing you can buy in preparation. You can have your adventure with security in mind. It may never happen to you, but you're safe if it does!
*All depends on your insurance policy. Pre existing conditions rarely covered. Read all documents carefully.