When I was 25 and living in Beijing, China, I fainted and fell down a small flight of stairs. I fractured my jaw, lost a couple of teeth and had others move to places in my mouth where teeth really shouldn’t be. The friend who I was with at the time rushed me to an emergency clinic where the gash under my chin was stitched up and a dentist pushed and pulled what teeth he could back into place. My x-ray results the following day revealed two fractures in my jaw. It was at that point that I decided to go home to the UK and get further medical advice and any treatment that I might need.
As it turned out, I was very lucky. The fractures were hairline, which meant that I did not have to wear some prehistoric-looking mouth brace during the healing process. The treatment that I received in Beijing was very good and I only needed a few follow-up sessions with a dentist in England. But the point of this story is that I was able to go back to the UK – to my home, to my family, to a place where I could talk about medical matters in English – because I had travel insurance. What’s more, my travel insurance covered medical emergencies.
There’s a saying that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. If something goes wrong on your trip; if your bags get stolen, or your flight is cancelled, or if you’re struck down by Delhi belly or dengue fever, and you don’t have insurance (or the right kind of insurance) then you will be faced with more than just the memories of a bad holiday.
Generally, travel insurance is sold in packages, combining various categories of coverage. Go through them and work out what you need and what you don’t, either because you’re not planning to go zip-lining off the Eiffel Tower or because you’re already covered.
Some good things to consider when buying travel insurance include the following:
Medical Coverage: If your regular health insurance doesn’t cover you while abroad then insurance that covers any medical emergencies is a must. Travellers with pre-existing medical conditions should take out specific medical holiday insurance tailored to your needs. Insurance policies vary so make sure to read the fine print carefully to see what is covered. Better still, talk to someone at the insurance company so that you are 100% sure what your policy covers. Some countries, such as Thailand, are considering making it compulsory to have a minimum level of travel insurance before you visit.
Emergency Evacuation: If you fall seriously ill and need to be repatriated you are looking at anywhere between US$25,000 to in excess of USD$100,000 for a medical emergency evacuation. You may think that this scenario is never going to happen (you’re young, you’re fit and healthy etc.) but it might. Having evacuation coverage as part of a package is a good idea.
Adventure Activities: If you’re planning to go skiing or bungee jumping, or engage in any other activity where there is a high risk of injury, check to see if your activities are covered. Often you will have to take out an additional cover for extreme sports.
Travel Protection: If you’re trip is cancelled, delayed or interrupted, then travel protection offers reimbursement – sometimes just partial.
Baggage Protection: Some insurance policies will reimburse you for items lost or damaged in transit as well as for damages and loss beyond your flight. If you’re travelling with an expensive camera or laptop, or sporting equipment such as golf clubs or bikes, then you may need additional coverage.
In most cases your travels will go without a hitch; your bags will make it, your flights won’t be cancelled and you won’t faint, fall down some stairs and fracture your jaw while aboard. But if any of the above does happen, you want to make sure that you are covered.
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Disclosure: This post was written in partnership with Medical Travel Insurance. All opinions are, as always, fully my own and I always travel with travel insurance!