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According to the travel insurance companies, you shouldn’t leave home without travel insurance.
And according to Dear Abby, you shouldn’t leave home without travel insurance.
The popular columnist known as Abigail Van Buren (real name Jeanne Phillips) took over from her mother, Paula Phillips, who started the widely-read column.
In this case, "Abby" was advising a man whose wife had booked a surprise trip for the two of them. When he wrote in expressing anxiety about travel and some of his health issues, she strongly advised that he get travel insurance in advance of the trip.
Well, did you hear about the 62-year old grandfather who suffered a heart attack somewhere in the Mediterranean and needed emergency heart surgery?
Or how about the 32-year old newly-wed on her honeymoon in Belize? She was hit by a boat and had to have her leg amputated.
These “tales from the insurance companies” are typical of the insurance industry. They do a good job playing on our fears and guilt. Why would they point out, for example, that most of us experience trouble-free travel.
But, these kinds of medical emergencies do in fact happen. Travel can be dangerous and it is best to be prepared. Things do have a way of going wrong.
While most unfortunate travel incidents are a missed or delayed flight, or a brief illness on board a ship or in a foreign country, there can be catastrophic illness or accidents that require evacuation home, or transport to the best possible in-country medical facility.
It may be that your regular health insurance policy covers incidents out of the U.S. Medicare doesn't.
But even if your insurance company covers you abroad, what does that mean?
Usually it means bring back all your receipts, bills and such and you’ll get some sort of reimbursement when you file a claim. Which does you no good when you need treatment abroad and the hospital or doctor wants payment right then and there.
Good travel insurance policies have prearranged medical procedures with various countries, or will, in an emergency, wire you the money for payment. In case an emergency flight home is required, it can cost anywhere from 10 to $100,00 to evacuate a seriously ill patient home or to an adequate medical facility.
The US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA), an association of insurance carriers that doesn’t sell policies, says thousands of travelers do fall ill and those illness typically fall into four categories: cardiac, respiratory, surgical and orthopedic.
And since travel insurance is a one-time, one-trip process, we think it makes sense to buy, but only what you need. The cost is based on length of travel, destination, age and is usually very inexpensive.
There are many good companies to buy insurance from, but a policy should provide the following basics:
• Medical evacuation and transportation home if you’re injured or sick on the road.
• Trip cancellation or interruption because of the death or illness of the insured or a family member…or any other legitimate reason. And acceptable reasons are more and more numerous.
If you’ve paid big bucks for a cruise and a week before you sail, you get sick or get sick while at sea, you need a policy that gets you your money back, even if it’s just the unused portion of your travel.
Allianz, a very reliable company, says that its insurance policies cover travel delays, meaning stranded passengers will be covered for meals and accommodations, which beats airport food, and sleeping in a terminal.
Interestingly, Allianz also notes that travel-related injuries increase in the winter months by 35% because of ice and snow-related accidents. Their site provides some useful travel tips and alerts, like the Colorado wildfire event and some solid travel tips.
Another company I’ve been consistently impressed with is Insuremytrip.com probably because their plan site is very easy to negotiate and their 10,000 plus reviews and impressive. Their phone customer service is very reassuring.
It’s a smart thing to check out USTIA before buying anything relative to travel insurance. They have a complete portfolio about security, health and related links. To paraphrase the American Express guy, don’t leave home without some travel insurance.