Travel Insurance Is Not an “All-Inclusive” Tour Feature

March Break is just around the corner and though you may already have booked your trip or cruise, you’d better check out the details of your travel insurance. That is a separate issue; don’t consider it one of your “all-inclusive” features, like meals, drinks, and beach towels. Unlike these things, it has to be specifically tailored for YOU.

Tour companies are under great competitive stress. Their promotions tend to go over the top in describing all the delights of a “worry-free” trip to warm weather playgrounds. “Worry-free” is good. “Careless” is not. And travelling anywhere out of the country, without paying at least as much attention to your travel insurance as to the location of your room, your sightline to the beach, or whether ice cream cones for the kids are part of your cruise tariff, is careless.

Don’t be too trusting of the worry-free promises of tour agents. Your trip is only worry-free if you take care of the details—tour operators will not find you a hospital in case of emergency, or pay your hospital or doctor bill, or repatriate you home if necessary. Only your insurer’s assistance company will do that. And if you have been careless in buying your insurance (e.g., going for the cheapest price even though the coverage conditions were not right for you), you leave yourself open for financial worries long after memories of your “worry-free” trip have vanished.

A recent survey of British travellers has shown that a majority of them buy the cheapest insurance they can find regardless of the appropriateness of coverage for them. I have not seen similar surveys among Canadians but I suspect the results may be similar.

Travel insurance must be tailored to your individual needs, largely dependent on your health status as recorded on your insurance application, not according to how you feel, or how your health compares to your neighbour’s, or even if your family doctor has given you “a clean bill of health.” You have to know what you’re buying, what you are covered for, and what is excluded from coverage.

You don’t need a lawyer to buy travel insurance, but you do need to look at your insurance as a purchase apart from your trip.

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