Do I Need Travel Insurance?

Travel insurance is a tricky business.  If you sign up for a cruise, buy an airplane ticket online or join an adventure trip, you’ll be posed with the question: would you like travel insurance? Many times, the insurance offered is overpriced and underused. There are cases where travel insurance has been a great relief to a traveler that has experienced a trip nightmare, but if you’re a frequent traveler the costs can quickly outweigh the benefits.

I do have strong opinions about travel insurance. Remember, these are my opinions. Ultimately, you need to make the decision that brings you the greatest amount of peace.

  • RENTAL CARS: If you have great auto insurance or you’re placing your rental vehicle on Gold or Platinum credit card (call and ask your company about rental benefits) consider forgoing the expensive extra insurance on a car rental. But if you’re a so-so driver or you’re driving into a place that is notorious for bad drivers (especially a country you’re not familiar with) consider getting the extra coverage.
  • AIRPLANE TICKET INSURANCE: The big airlines are great about giving you credit if you happen to miss a flight for some unknown reason. Trip insurance for flights (especially on Travelocity or Expedia) is a racket. Avoid this insurance. Work through to get something tailored to your needs.
  • HEALTH INSURANCE: You can usually only buy this for travel out of the country you live in. I consider this a must. Though I rarely use it, I have known it to be the difference between life and death for some travelers. Most companies are overpriced. Here are the benefits to consider when shopping for a travel insurance company.
    • Do they reimburse any medical treatment you have in the country you’re visiting? I have known several people that have utilized this benefit.
    • Do they have medical emergency evacuation if you’re seriously injured or have a health issue while outside of the U.S.? One of our pilgrims in Ireland had a severe unforeseen issue with her diabetes. Within 24 hours, she was back in the U.S. to see her doctor. This benefit saved her life.
    • Do they have emergency evacuation in case of natural disaster or political unrest takes place? We were leading groups in a Central American country in 2009 when a serious political uprising commenced. Within 24 hours, we had 15 people out of the country, and our insurance footed the $30,000 dollar bill.
    • Do they have lost or stolen bag coverage? This happens more than you’d imagine. It doesn’t help while you’re traveling, but the replacement money is nice when you return home.
    • Emergency Dental

It’s important to understand that the cost of insurance will vary with age, and there are usually things like pre-existing illness that will not be covered.  My favorite company, which covers most travel, is Insurance Services of America 480-821-9052 (outside the US) 800-647-4589 (toll-free within the U.S.)  web:

After a decade working in parish youth ministry Shawn started Wonder Voyage Missions. Over the last 15 years, WVM has led thousands of pilgrims to over forty countries. Shawn is a storyteller and an award winning filmmaker. He is an author who brings the gift of engaging narrative to our journeys. Shawn is dedicated to creating voyages that give people abundant opportunities to encounter God.

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