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Should you buy a Travel Insurance? And what kind?

Sunday, February 27, 2011 by

A screenshot of CNN video - Travel insurance, worth it?

Travel Insurance - CNN

Most people don’t have a good understanding what travel insurance is. Many equate it with insuring medical expenses abroad. This CNN video prompted us to write this post.

The term “travel insurance” doesn’t actually refer to a specific product. It encompasses all kinds of things that a traveler may potentially want to insure, for instance just the medical expenses.

So what else you may want to insure? We think that specifically young worktravelers like you, who paid sometimes thousands of dollars for programs abroad, should purchase “trip cancellation insurance”! Did you even know it existed? Now that you do, look at the cancellation conditions of most programs, and you will see how much an ankle broken one week before your planned departure will cost you.

Another thing you may want to insure is a loss of your luggage, simply because all of a sudden, you will need to buy all kinds of stuff. That costs money, so a payment from an insurance company comes handy.

What some insurance policies also offer is “emergency cash”. Imagine that somebody steals your wallet – no money, no credit cards – what would you do far away from home? Good travel insurance packages offer this option.

And yes, most travel insurance policies do offer insurance of “medical expenses”, which you definitely should buy. An ambulance transportation and two weeks in hospital runs in tens of thousands dollars in countries such as the USA. You could be in trouble for the rest of your life.

Some Europeans are also convinced that in the EU, they are covered by their home health insurance. If you are one of them, get ready for a nasty surprise! You are not covered for any any private medical healthcare! Where you can be taken if a public hospital isn’t nearby. Or where you may walk in yourself, if you don’t realize that the clinic wasn’t public. Importantly, you are not covered for things such as repatriation to your home country if you are seriously injured.

Another area are sports and “dangerous activities”. You would be surprised how many travel insurance packages don’t cover injuries sustained while playing the simplest of sports! Such as skiing. And that some consider riding a motorcycle a “dangerous activity” which isn’t covered. If you get injured, you’re on your own! Most travel insurance packages allow you to pay a bit extra to have sports and other activities covered. Ask about that.

Many plain travel insurance packages don’t cover working abroad. If you are reading this, you are probably going to participate in one of the work abroad programs shown on this website. In such a case, make absolutely super-sure that the insurance you are buying covers accidents that happened while working!

Maybe you borrow a friend’s car and hit somebody. Or you will work as a waiter and spill hot soup on somebody scalding him. The person may sue you for compensation and his or her medical expenses. Many travel insurance packages offer liability insurance. Ask about it.

We would say that buying insurance in your home country from an insurance company, which is represented in your destination country by a strong local or global insurance brand, gives you the best of both worlds. You will be able to talk to the support line in your native language, which is helpful, especially under distress. And the hospital abroad will be able to easily verify your coverage by talking to local insurance company in their country.

Most people buy travel insurance from a local travel agent when they are buying their flight ticket. If you buy your flight ticket on the Internet, you can still visit a travel agent and buy just travel insurance. Look for an experienced, well known company. True, they are not the insurer, they just sell you the insurance and that’s it, but if they are big and experienced, they are going to have access to many different insurance products and can also advise you what to buy.

Questions? Ask below :-) In English, please.

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