Whether you are heading overseas for a big expensive family vacation or fleeing the Canadian winter for warmer climates, you should spare a thought for Travel Insurance before you go. Often, travel is all about planning things down to the last detail. From your flights to your hotels to the sites you’ll see and the restaurants you’ll visit while abroad. As they say, though, ‘the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.’ With so many moving parts, even a well-planned trip can fall apart with the simplest medical incident, family emergency, or missed flight. When that happens, you need to have some degree of protection from the fallout, and travel insurance is your body armour.
In this article, we will cover the ins and outs of Travel Insurance. What is it? Why do you need it? How can you get it? How much do you need? Keep reading for the answers to these questions and others.
In most cases, insurance definitions are simple—at least on the surface. Homeowner’s insurance protects your house. Automotive insurance covers your car. Health insurance covers your medical expenses. With Travel Insurance, though, the definition isn’t that easy. ‘Travel’ is not an asset such as your car or your house, nor is it connected to your well being like medical care is. As such, a lot of people simply don’t know how Travel Insurance works or why it is important.
Think of Travel Insurance as what shields you if your travel plans fall apart. Say a relative passes away and you must cancel your trip at the last minute. Or maybe you miss your first flight, causing a delay for the rest of your trip—including additional flights and hotel reservations. Or perhaps the airline loses your luggage and can’t recover it. Any of these scenarios can result in the complete derailment of your trip. Each can also represent a sizable financial hit—that is unless you have the proper Travel Insurance coverage up your sleeve.
Travel Insurance can take a few different forms, depending on the provider and the individual policy. Perhaps the most commonly known benefit of Travel Insurance is trip cancellation reimbursement. Especially if you are flying, your trip likely involves a few financial commitments that you must make months before the actual travel date. Making plans this far out only increases the likelihood of something happening to derail them. Unfortunately, airline tickets are often not refundable, nor are things such as cruise reservations or tickets to events or theme parks.
If you have to cancel your vacation, Travel Insurance will normally cover the non-refundable pre-paid costs of the trip. Stuff that can be cancelled or refunded—like most hotel, restaurant or rental car reservations—will not be part of the policy.
Travel Insurance will also usually kick in if you need to delay, reschedule, or interrupt your trip. Again, any pre-paid, non-refundable costs associated with such situations should be covered, depending on the policy.
Another major perk of Travel Insurance is lost luggage protection. As anyone who flies regularly will tell you, airlines frequently send checked luggage to the wrong destinations or fail to load it onto the airplane. (There is a reason that carry-ons have become the go-to solution for most air travelers.) For longer trips, there’s not much you can do to avoid checking your bags, which means taking the risk that you might lose your luggage. Usually, the airline will be able to find your luggage and get it back to you—eventually. In any case, most Travel Insurance policies will cover any expenses related to lost or stolen luggage.
If you are travelling within your home province, you won’t need to worry about finding a Travel Insurance policy that includes medical coverage. Your personal or family Health Insurance policy should cover you anywhere within the province.
If you are travelling outside of your home province—or outside of Canada entirely—then you may need to purchase Travel Insurance that includes medical coverage. Most provincial healthcare plans will cover some medical expenses outside of the province or outside of the country, but as a rule, you should expect your coverage to be limited. Said another way, if an emergency medical or dental situation strikes while you are on your trip, you could be on the hook for most of the incurred expenses. Particularly if you’re travelling to a country that is known for expensive medical costs, such as the USA, it’s a prudent choice to get a good level of insurance—just in case!
Especially if you are travelling for an extended period, it is important to think about medical coverage as part of your Travel Insurance policy. Accidental injuries do happen on vacations, and contracting serious illnesses is a risk you take when travelling to certain parts of the world. Ideally, you will be happy and healthy for the duration of your time away from home. On the off chance that you get sick or get hurt, though, the proper Travel Insurance will help you pay for pricey hospital bills.
So, here’s the big question: do you really need Travel Insurance? Or is it just good to have as a safeguard?
Ultimately, you will need to answer these questions on your own. You and you alone can decide how much risk you are willing to shoulder on your own. Travel is expensive, and Travel Insurance can help reduce the chances that all that money will go to waste. For shorter, less expensive trips, you might be fine just taking the chance. For excursions that are lengthier, further flung and more expensive, though, the smartest choice is always to insure the trip. With the right provider, you should be able to find an affordable policy that will give you all the protection you need and then some.
At Guild Insurance Brokers & HMS Insurance Agencies, we can help you put together a travel insurance package that makes sense for you and your family. Get your insurance quote today!