Do you buy travel insurance before you go on a trip? It surprised me that a large number of travellers that I’ve talked to do not buy travel insurance, because this has always been one of those pre-trip must-dos, something ingrained in me from travelling with my family. I’ve also had the chance to speak with some travel insurance experts on a TV series to learn more about travel insurance, and I am convinced that this is necessary expenditure.
Beyond habit, my need to buy travel insurance stems from my own personal experiences travelling – I like to think I’m a pretty sensible traveller all around, but let’s face it, shit happens whenever, wherever, and travel insurance has helped save my ass (and my wallet) enough times that I decided to get an annual plan so I wouldn’t forget to ensure I had travel insurance coverage no matter how last minute my trip was.
The folks at Budget Direct Insurance wanted me to talk about why travel insurance is important for a traveller so I’ll give you my side of the story, but I’d love to hear what you guys think, whether you are a believer like I am, and especially if you are not because it seems like the benefits more than outweigh the cons, so it would be great to hear some other viewpoints.
Instances I’ve needed to make travel insurance claims
No one wants shitty things to happen to them when they travel, but here are a couple of times I was quite glad to have my travel insurance on hand to cover some of my losses. I’ve been quite lucky that most of my claims are fairly minor and I hope it stays that way.
When stuff gets stolen overseas
I loved Budapest, but like Barcelona where I nearly got robbed, Budapest will always be ‘that place my phone got stolen’. The one downside of solo travel is not having some extra eyes to watch your stuff – and I’m pretty sure someone was watching me wander around Szechenyi Baths on my own that day, so the moment I let down my guard, my phone was gone in less than 5 minutes, and along with my iphone I lost my drivers license, ATM card, some cash which were in my phone case and the worst thing? Photos from Budapest that I had yet to back up.
BUT the important thing is that I had travel insurance, and while there was a claim limit of $500 for electronics, it definitely helped cushion some of the cost I needed to fork out for a new phone. This one claim already exceeded the cost of my annual plan (which was about $400).
This also isn’t the first time things have mysteriously gone missing or got stolen from me on trips – you might have read this instance of the mysteriously disappearing camera in New Zealand, there was a family trip in Italy long ago where my ipod disappeared from my jacket after riding the public bus, and more recently I managed to mysteriously lose a rented wifi dongle while overseas and had to pay a $300 penalty, which thankfully I managed to claim for.
I swear I’m appropriately paranoid about keeping my stuff safe – I’m the person who was carrying 6 locks while travelling around South America recently (and managed to lose/spoil half of them so thank goodness for redundancy) and I rarely leave anything unattended, but somehow stuff like this still happens to me.
Protip: Making a claim isn’t always as simple as just filing a report. In each of these cases above, I had to spend precious trip time going to the local police station to file a report for my claim, and I had to dig up old receipts and invoices to justify claims costs. Keep records of your big ticket items somewhere just in case, and consider a plan which gives you extra coverage for things like your phone or laptop if they are especially key to your life or work.
Falling sick on the road
In Krakow, Poland, there were a few days where I had completely lost my voice. I carry around enough medicine to combat common illnesses and maladies, but losing my voice completely was a first and rather worrying. My hostel folk managed to find me a nice English speaking doctor nearby, who diagnosed it as nothing too serious thankfully, but that doctor’s visit and the medication were all covered by my travel insurance as well.
Protip: Not many people realise this, but a lot of travel insurance policies also cover your medical fees if you fall sick on the road and have to go to the doctor right after your trip. This is useful if you catch some sort of minor cold or illness that only develops into something more serious when you’re back in Singapore – Check your plan to be sure what the time limit is.
Travel delays and loss
One of my best examples of why travel insurance is important is from my trip to Dublin back in 2013. I made my tight connection but my luggage did not (we’re talking full service Swiss Air, not some budget airline), and I was stranded for an additional 25 hours without my luggage and any clothes to change into, on top of being in plane for almost 20+ hours. Thankfully I was attending an indoor workshop, and my luggage did turn up eventually, but having travel insurance got me compensated a cool $800.
Protip: Beyond knowing what is in your policy, I suggest to always take a picture of your bag before you travel or check it in – you’ll need information like brand, colour, type of bag to help the airline locate your bag in case it gets lost or delayed. I’ve also taken to always carrying a spare change of clothes in my carry-on, or just going carry-on only to be safe.
If you go for cheap flights like I do, remember that budget airlines can have some massive travel delays and because of the budget nature of the airlines, there is often very little compensation, so having travel insurance is also a good safety policy.
In short, I’m glad I have travel insurance
I know travel is quite a big expense for most and having to fork out a sum of money for something that you may or may not use seems like a waste, but considering how much you are ready to fork out for your perfect holiday, I feel that extra small sum of insurance that is not a high price to pay in the event things go wrong.
I also realise that taking the time to scrutinize the fine print is a pain and trying to figure out which plan works best for you is even more daunting. Consider going through your regular insurance agent if you trust them as it shouldn’t cost you more than buying directly – my agent is a friend who I text with questions about my policy, helps me submit my claims and reminds me when I need to renew my plan. The online process makes it much easier for most but I prefer to ask a person questions than to try and process the fine print.
Share with me your own stories about travel insurance – are there times you’ve been glad for the cover?
This post was sponsored by Budget Direct Insurance, cheap travel insurance that cuts the cost, not the cover. Go to www.budgetdirect.com.sg or call 6221 2111 to find out more.