Regardless of whether your upcoming trip is for pleasure, business or both, travel insurance is a necessity. The amount it costs to protect yourself from such things as lost luggage, cancellations, hotel problems, illnesses and others is minute compared to the amount you would need to pay if you are not adequately insured.
There are many ways to get insured, many credit cards offer travel insurance if you pay for a trip on their card, most travel agencies and airlines will also offer you different insurance options. But are these enough or the best option for your trip and requirements ?
One should definitely shop around for travel insurance and do not feel worried about asking a lot of questions, after all you are paying, and you have the right to know exactly what is covered and what is not. If you travel frequently (many times a year) then it may be wiser to take an annual travel insurance policy rather than many individual ones.
Most travel insurance will offer you cover for lost luggage, delays, cancellation of travel, overseas and medical hospital expenses and some evacuation under dire situations. One important aspect to consider here is how much would medical coverage in the destination you are travelling to going to cost? Medical costs in the US, Japan, Middle East, certain parts of Europe, South America, or Africa are relatively high so you would want to ensure that you have the highest level of medical coverage in your insurance. If on the other hand you are travelling somewhere like Thailand, where the costs of medical treatments are among some of the lowest in the world then you may be perfectly fine with a slightly lower level of coverage depending on your needs.
So how to choose? Well one of the first things to look into is whether the insurance company has an hotline available which readily accepts reverse charges from anywhere you are travelling to. This hotline should be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and of course 365 days a year.
It has happened to every frequent traveller at one time or another - the daunting lost luggage syndrome. When this happens contact the airline but DO NOT pass through customs before you do so, as this can completely void any claims with the airline. Contact the airline counter which will be located somewhere around the luggage carousels and inform them of the loss. Many airlines will compensate you on the spot especially if you need clothes etc, but the level of compensation is normally not that great and depends on the class of travel, and even your flight history with the airline. If you are unfortunate in that the luggage has not just gone on a round the world trip without you and the airline cannot locate it then your insurance company should provide you with a reasonably good sum for compensation.
If you are travelling with cameras, video equipment, lap top etc then check as well with your insurance company about the level of insurance and compensation for these items if lost or stolen. Also check whether emergency cash advances and translators can be included in your policy.
If you are planning some "high risk" activities during your trip such as bungee jumping, sky diving, white water rafting, or even some less "high risk" activities such as diving, water skiing, jet ski's etc be sure to ask whether these are covered in your travel insurance.
If you are travelling for a special event and miss a flight connection or something check with the insurance company to see whether reimbursement is covered.
The medical part of the insurance is definitely the most important to watch out for, ensure that for each country you are travelling to, you know exactly what you are covered for medically, and how to claim if something does happen and you need to be hospitalised. Some insurance companies even offer emergency reunion policies that will send a number of your closest relatives to you wherever you may be hospitalised
Last but not least, with today's unsettled world, you should also enquire how your travel insurance covers you in case of a terrorist situation, kidnapping or worse. Make sure your insurance coverage allows you a reimbursement if you cancel a trip due to a war or terrorist acts in the country you are visiting and exactly how this works. Also because of such events, many travel companies have gone bankrupt or simply closed down, check to see whether your travel insurance covers such a situation with a supplier default insurance cover.
Travel insurance should not take any of the fun out of travelling and while it can be a daunting task choosing the right policy, it will give you a sense of security knowing that you are prepared for anything fate may throw at you.
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