By Carol Johnson
Decades ago, a familiar sight in airports was a vending machine offering travel life insurance good for whatever flight you were about to board. Many people scoffed at those machines, but many actually bought the insurance, because it wasn’t too expensive, and it offered a little bit of comfort to fearful travelers who thought they might not return from their flights.
Nowadays, the airport life insurance machines are gone, but the risks and dangers associated with all kinds of travel have multiplied dramatically. Life insurance is no longer the main concern for travelers; the main question now is whether or not travel insurance is a good idea for keeping you alive and healthy while you’re traveling. With more people traveling, more often, and in more ways, you need to evaluate whether or not you can afford to get sick or injured if your health insurance policy doesn’t cover problems encountered while you’re traveling.
If your health insurance is comprehensive and covers you no matter where you are or what you’re doing, then you’re in luck. Unfortunately that’s not the norm; many policies require you to go to specific doctors, some won’t cover you if you’re hurt while riding on public transportation, and others don’t cover you if you’re traveling outside the United States. Before deciding whether or not you need travel insurance, you need to research your health insurance plan to see what coverage you may or may not already have.
If you don’t have any health insurance at all, then travel insurance might be good for you to consider, especially if your trip will involve a great deal of physical activity or traveling in risky environment, particularly overseas. However, it’s not always a simple decision, because it does mean yet another bill to pay. And of course, it’s possible that you may be paying for something you might not ever use.
One of the main things that may help you make your decision is considering the type of travel you will be doing, and where you will be going. If you’re heading to the Andes to do some backpacking and you might have to be airlifted out if you have an accident, then travel insurance might be worth considering. But if you’re going to be taking a 10-day cruise through the Bahamas on an ocean liner, the potential risk for accidents would be considerably less.
Another prime consideration is where you will be traveling. If you’re going to be traveling in the United States, be sure the plan you’re considering will let you be treated by any doctor anywhere. If you’re prone to going to the doctor for even small problems, then travel insurance isn’t your best option; consider regular health insurance instead. If you are traveling overseas, check to see what the policy covers in case of extreme emergencies, such as evacuations, acts of nature, and military conflicts.
There are many travel websites on the Internet that provide useful information about travel insurance, and many sites even compare specific plans. Many insurance companies offer a wide range of different policies, whereas a travel site may list only certain plans. Some sites offer the opportunity to purchase plans online through the site, and some have phone numbers or contact information if you have questions the site doesn’t answer.
Lastly, a good way to find out what other travelers have decided about travel insurance is to visit forums and message boards connected to various travel sites. These often include a specific section about insurance, so you can read about what kinds of insurance are available and learn about the experiences other people have had with particular plans and companies. You may not be able to plan ahead for every little bump in the road you might encounter while traveling, but you can plan ahead for how to handle any injuries those bumps in the road might cause you.