At this point in the year, travel plans are about to give way to travel reality — bags packed, pet and house sitters arranged, cab reserved and alarm set.
It’s also a busy time, one which can make you forget about the travel dreams…of the relaxation, the adventure and the new cultural experiences to come.
And that’s where travel insurance is most important – to protect those dreams, or perhaps smooth out the bumps in the road that, with travel as with life at home, are sometimes unavoidable.
So before your travel plans become reality over the next few days, we want to remind you of the many ways travel insurance can help protect you and your family.
1. Global Assistance
No matter what unexpected events may occur during your travels, odds are you’ll be in unfamiliar surroundings and perhaps uncertain of how to resolve a situation, such as illness, accident, theft, missed connection or loss of your belongings. Many travel insurance plans provide 24/7 worldwide support for policyholders – via toll-free phone, as well as live internet chat and email options – so no matter where you are or what time of day or night, you can get support from home, in English or French. While often overlooked when shopping for insurance coverage — and hopefully something you’ll never need to use — 24/7 global assistance is one of the most important benefits, and one provided by leading insurers.
2. Medical Services
It goes without saying that, amongst all kinds of travel snafus to be encountered, a medical issue is the one traveler fear the most. It doesn’t matter what it is – from the common cold or flu to a broken bone (or worse) – being physically less than 100% can ruin a trip. Thus, medical services are often well-known as the main reason to get travel insurance, especially since the scope of public healthcare in Canada is limited to your home province. (Indeed, if you live in BC, some medical expenses, like prescription medications, physician care or orthopaedic appliances, wouldn’t be covered by other provinces.) Whether related to out-patient services, urgent care, or emergency transportation – in-country or, in worst case scenario, back home to Canada – overseas medical benefits is the “must get” class of coverage when it comes to travel insurance.
3. Baggage Protection
It’s happened to all of us, most likely – your baggage is delayed for a day or two, and you need a change of clothes and toiletries. Or worse, your baggage is lost or damaged, upon arrival at your destination or back home. Either way, it’s an out-of-pocket loss to you unless you get covered in advance. For as little as a dollar a day (or less), you can add on baggage protection to most travel insurance plans.
4. Trip Delay, Interruption or Cancellation
Sometimes, through no fault of your own, your trip may not start the way you planned it, or mid-travels you may be forced to change your trip, even to the extent of having to come home early. Although exclusions do apply, in many instances costs related to extra travel, accommodation, or meals related to your need to wait for, catch up to, or completely change your trip logistics, will be covered. This is a benefit often used as a result of things like common carrier delays, strikes or other labour disruptions that affect your travel, or a death or illness back home. The good news? With trip interruption and delay/cancellation coverage, often you’re not on the hook for these expenses.
5. Missed Connections
Although seemingly related to trip interruption or delay, missed connection coverage for those times when you’re trip continues on as planned, but due to bad weather, accidents or travel carrier issues, a connection is missed, and you must pay for alternative travel. No worries – with missed connection coverage, you’ll be compensated, up to pre-arranged coverage limits. It’s another highly cost-effective, rarely-used, but much appreciated form of coverage for the unexpected.
Many people ask us, “What about my employee health plan, or my credit card benefits – don’t they provide travel coverage?” In short, yes and no – travel medical and ancillary benefits provided by other financial products provide some level of benefits, but service standards, availability and coverage limits vary considerably. We recommend always getting a quote for a dedicated travel insurance policy from your local insurance broker, and compare the benefits with those of your other products. You may be surprised at the difference.
Finally, always ensure you ask your broker about deductibles (which sometimes can be “bought down” for very little cost to provide maximum financial protection) and default limits for each type of coverage. Most often, both can be customized to your specific needs.
Safe and happy travels this holiday season!
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