Traveling expands the mind, it makes us happier, and some think it even makes us more intelligent. It gives us a break from our daily lives, that's for sure.
But what if something goes wrong before you leave or while you're on your trip of a lifetime? If you have travel insurance, it doesn't have to be the end of the world. Learn more.
What Is Travel Insurance?
Before we can tell you what travel insurance can and can't cover, we need to talk about what it is. If we're being honest, travel insurance is a saving grace and a money protection policy for the curveballs life throws at you.
One of the most anxiety-inducing things about travel is having to book things far in advance. Sure, for all you know now, you can make that flight in August. But what if something happens, and there's no way you're getting on that plane?
If you didn't choose travel insurance for your flight, then you're out those hundreds of dollars. Or you'll at least lose some money through a flight change or cancellation fee.
And that's just flights. You'll have to cancel more than that if you're canceling a trip beforehand. Now, all that money you've saved up for your trip (and already spent on it) is almost gone, and you didn't get to go anywhere.
People have to cancel their trips more often than you'd think. Why?
Imagine that your mother or aunt, who lives in another part of the country, falls ill all of a sudden. So ill, in fact, that you have to fly down as soon as possible, so you can say goodbye while it's not too late.
We hope that never happens, for obvious reasons, but it can - and it does, for a lot of families. Those last-minute flights are expensive, sometimes double or even triple what you'd pay in advance.
Travel insurance on flights, car rentals and hotel stays can prevent all that. But that's just if something bad happens before you go.
If you have travel insurance, you can cancel that planned vacation and use the funds for this emergency. Or just put off your vacation until things are more settled at home.
Your safety is much more important to your vacation. If there's some sort of national security crisis at your destination, travel insurance can help you out. They can either refund you/cover cancellation costs or help you make new reservations that skip the dangerous country.
Probably the most common reason people can't go on vacation or on trips is inclement weather. With global warming increasing the intensity and frequency of storms, it's happening more every year.
You can't control the weather, and neither can the airlines. Most airlines won't cover cancellations or give you vouchers because of weather - though they may still help you get different flights.
Travel insurance can cover you completely and or get you a refund. You can use that money to find a different way to get there or rebook when it's safe to do so.
Five Things Travel Insurance Covers
Most people end up using travel insurance before they go (or don't end up going), but you can use it after you've left the house with your suitcases too.
What sorts of things happen on trips? Read below.
1. Missed Flight Coverage
As long as you didn't miss your flight because you spent too long in line for an airport pretzel or you didn't set your alarm, you can get help rescheduling a missed flight.
Most of the time, missing flights happen because of an issue on the airline's side, like a mechanical delay that leads to later takeoff, that leads to you missing your connection.
Missed flights/missed connection coverage can save you hundreds of dollars and your sanity. While you can often get rescheduled for free by the airline, they may not get you there till the next day.
That means you could be stuck in the airport overnight, or miss your event that you're flying out for. The airlines can only help you out by getting you a flight on their airline.
If there's another airline that can get you there faster, you have to book that for a fee - unless you have travel insurance.
If there are no other options, your travel insurance may reimburse you for a hotel, if you have to stay overnight.
2. Getting Sick Abroad
When you're leaving the country for a non-first world country, you need to get vaccines. Those vaccines are supposed to keep you healthy and protected from the worst of the illnesses.
But that doesn't mean your immune system is suddenly invincible. You can still get run of the mill illnesses or even the diseases you got vaccinated against, in some cases.
And going to the doctor in another country is all sorts of expensive. You don't have global medical insurance coverage (more than likely) so your Canadian health insurance plan is of no use. Without travel insurance, you'll have to pay completely out of pocket for the doctor's fees and any medication.
But that's the best case scenario. What if something extreme happens, and you need emergency hospitalization or surgery? Now those costs go up, almost exponentially.
Especially if you're in a non-socialized country like the United States. Did you know that the average ambulance ride alone there costs about $3,500 CAD?
That's just the ride to the hospital. It doesn't include any sort of treatment or medication while you're there.
In some cases, your travel will take you places where the kind of emergency medical care you need isn't available. Now you'll have to be emergency flown to the nearest place it is, or even put on a plane back home.
In that case, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars, all coming out of your pocketbook.
It's a rare situation, yes, but it's worth getting that travel insurance medical coverage (or add on). We promise you won't regret having more protection than you need - even though we hope you never have to use it.
3. Escape from Dangerous On-Trip Weather
Let's say you're planning a week-long trip to Disney World in sunny Orlando, FL, USA. You're on your trip when a hurricane that was supposed to only hit Mexico turns suddenly.
It's now supposed to hit land (which grounds planes and causes damage) on the fourth day of your trip. You don't want to die in a flood or be stuck in the Florida heat, with no power/AC, and nowhere to go for the next three days.
A good travel insurance policy can help you book flights home, while Mickey Mouse secures the hatches at Disney World, without your help.
4. Terrorist Attacks
It's a scary world out there. Canadians have it pretty good, compared to the mass shootings we see almost weekly in the US and in other countries. France has a no weapons policy, but their strong stance on Muslim expression makes them a target for terrorist activity.
If one of these events were to happen while you were visiting, you'd want to get out of there, quickly. Sticking around isn't safe for your family, and it won't be fun either.
Many national monuments close or change their hours in response to attacks or political unrest, so you may not even have anything to do (even if you're not directly in the danger).
Obviously, this event is out of your control, so your travel insurance company can help you get home, and get home safely.
5. Stolen or Lost Luggage
Most airlines have lost luggage return policies, or vouchers they'll give you if something is truly lost - but what about luggage that's lost on planes? Or even stolen while you're abroad?
That's one reason you need to invest in wearable passport holders, to keep what's really important close to your chest.
If your luggage is truly lost or stolen (and not returned) you can hit up your travel insurance to tide you over for what you need in the meantime.
It's not always preventable, but there are some things you can do to make petty theft, like pickpocketing, less likely.
Choosing Travel Insurance
The quality of travel insurance matters, maybe more than anything else about buying it. You need to get a plan that doesn't just cover the basics unless that's what you're going for.
The longer, farther, and more expensive your trip is, the more you want to spend on insurance. Working with an insurance broker will help you find the best policy.
Find out more about travel insurance for Canadians, right here.