One of the best things we can take on vacation is something that doesn't go into a suitcase. Travel insurance is something you can't check at the airport baggage counter, but it's still vital.
But, what is travel insurance? If you don't know how to answer that question, then you're far from alone. It's a useful tool that many Canadians just don't think about getting before they travel to some far-off destination.
How important is travel insurance? That depends on where you're going, how long you'll be gone, and a few other factors. It's not always necessary, but it's often a good idea.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of travel insurance.
It Covers Some Trip Cancellations
There are so many people who tell themselves they can't go on a vacation for whatever reason. One of the most compelling reasons, though, is being a caretaker for an ill family member.
If you're caring for a parent, grandparent, sibling, or someone else, then you may feel like everything will collapse if you risk leaving for even a long weekend. That's not a healthy perspective, though, and the longer you go without a break, the more you risk caretaker burnout that leaves you spent in every way imaginable.
Caretaker burnout can hurt both you and the relative you're caring for, but travel insurance offers a way out, assuming you find the right policy and read all the fine print.
If your family member takes a turn for the worst, you'll want a policy that lets you cancel without taking a financial penalty. But hopefully, that won't happen, and the person you've trained to care for your loved one in your absence will get along fine without you.
Do you need travel insurance? You do if it's the one thing that allows you to plan a getaway for three or four days and come back feeling refreshed.
Travel insurance won't cover every type of cancellation, of course. If you forget to set your alarm on the morning of your flight, then that's your fault. Travel insurance covers you for situations that are out of your control.
If the budget airline that's supposed to fly you to the Caribbean goes out of business the day before your flight, that's worth a call to your travel insurance company. But if you get caught in traffic and miss your flight, that's on you.
It Helps If You Get Sick While Traveling
You've checked with the Canadian government and gotten all the necessary vaccinations before traveling abroad. That's great, but you can still get sick when you're overseas.
You can also fall and get hurt, as there's no vaccination that can keep you from doing something like falling down the stairs and fracturing your ankle. Whether you come down with an illness or break a bone, travel insurance can help you decide what to do next.
When you're buying travel insurance, ask your agent about trip interruption coverage. That should cover you if a doctor suggests you go home to continue treatment since no one should pick between cutting the trip short and losing money or continuing the trip and risking your health.
Don't confuse travel insurance with health insurance, though. You often need your own health insurance even if you're overseas.
Unless you buy a special medical rider, most travel insurance is not designed to cover medical bills, only to offset the other costs associated with cancelling or interrupting a trip for medical reasons.
In Case of Natural Disasters
You've been planning a trip to Bermuda for a while, but then, five days before your flight leaves, a Category 4 hurricane named Steve threatens the resort where you were planning to stay. Will travel insurance help you out here?
That depends on when you bought the policy. It's a weird quirk, but most insurance carriers require you to buy insurance before the named hurricane forms. So if Hurricane Steve was only a glimmer in the ocean's eye when you took out your policy, you should be fine.
Keep in mind, though, that a glancing blow from Hurricane Steve usually isn't going to be enough. Your destination usually must be "uninhabitable" for the policy to kick in.
You might not want to visit a particular town after it got grazed by a hurricane, but if the resort is still standing and the town is deemed safe, then you may not have much of a choice.
Still, if you're traveling to a coastal area anytime between June and November, the question shouldn't be "Why to get travel insurance?" You should instead ask yourself, "Why not get travel insurance?"
Lost or Stolen Luggage
Depending on your policy, travel insurance can cover some surprising things, including luggage that gets stolen.
It's a good idea to keep a close eye on your belongings, especially if you're traveling to an area where local thieves like to prey on tourists. But if you're worried about the property crime rate in your destination, ask your travel insurance agent about a policy that covers lost or stolen belongings.
It's easy to tell yourself that "It's only stuff" if you lose something like a T-shirt, but that's a lot harder to say if, for instance, your passport goes missing. Passports are notoriously hard to replace, and you're going to need all the assistance you can get if yours goes missing.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you know exactly how your travel insurance company will calculate the value of certain items. For instance, you may value your antique watch much more highly than your travel insurance company would. If so, it's best to know that before you go.
What Is Travel Insurance?
By now, you should have a better handle on how to answer the question, "What is travel insurance?" It won't fix every single problem that crops up while traveling, but it can still provide a valuable sense of security before you hop on that international flight.
If you have more questions about how travel insurance might apply to the trip you're planning, we'd love to help. Contact us today to find out what we can do to make your vacation better.