Travels with Bob

Travel Insurance: Don’t Leave Home Without It


Travelers to remote destinations, such as the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, should purchase the best travel insurance coverage available.

There was a time when I personally considered travel insurance to be nothing more than an unnecessary added travel cost — simply travel suppliers attempting to increase their bottom line at my expense.

Over the past decade, however, I have come to realize the benefits of having travel insurance when you need it and the potential financial exposure of needing it and not having it. I not only recommend travel insurance to my clients, I now never leave home without it.

Travel insurance is particularly important when traveling outside the United States when your medical insurance does not leave the country with you (this is true for more than 85 percent of medical insurance policies including Medicare). The cost of travel insurance is influenced by three major factors: the price of your trip, the age of the insureds and the type of policy purchased. Travel insurance typically costs between five and ten percent of your trip price.

The most expensive feature in a travel insurance policy is trip cancellation prior to departure. Such coverage will refund the cost of your trip if you are forced to cancel for reasons stated in the policy. Furthermore, should you have a pre-existing medical condition, you must purchase the policy within 14 days of your initial trip deposit to cover that condition.

Some travel insurance companies offer relatively inexpensive policies, with no pre-trip cancellation coverage. These policies are designed for last-minute travelers or those who desire to cover the risk of cancellation penalties themselves.

In addition to a basic policy, most travel insurance companies offer good, better and best policies with increasing levels of coverage for medical expenses, medical evacuation, trip delay, lost baggage and several other issues that travelers may encounter. The “good” and “better” policies are generally adequate for most travelers, while travelers to remote destinations around the world should probably opt for the “best” and most extensive coverage.

Concierge travel services, providing routine and emergency traveler assistance, are included in most quality policies. Unfortunately, many travelers who purchase insurance tend to overlook this feature and do not take advantage of this benefit during their journey.

On average, five or six of my clients file travel insurance claims each year, with some claims amounting to thousands of dollars more than the cost of their trip, especially when medical evacuation is involved.

Purchasing travel insurance is a lot like buying car insurance or home fire insurance. You hope you don’t need it but you want the assurance of knowing you have it in case you do need it.