The Truth About Travel Insurance

From talking meerkats to comedy opera singers, the marketing world has worked hard to liven up insurance. But buying something you hope never to use is still a pain, and a tedious one at that.

It’s difficult to know where to begin – there are squillions of plans to choose from. It may seem tempting to walk away with a super cheap deal, but finding out you’re not covered for the freak bungee jump accident/ ash cloud/ monkey bite that’s ruined your holiday is a pretty sorry place to be.

Buying travel insurance is like placing a bet. You decide what you think might happen and put down as much as you can in advance so you don’t end up with soaring expenses later on. Extreme sports fans will be looking closely at the medical cover. City slickers will be finding receipts and photographing their stuff in case it gets nicked. And backpackers will be searching for long term cover that will help them out in sticky situations.

Make sure you’re not already covered in other ways. Your European Health Insurance card may be enough for medical cover. Check your contents or homeowner’s insurance, and any plans you may have bought with your camera, laptop and mobile phone. Some banks also offer travel insurance with their accounts.

The important thing is not to be bored into submission. Take the time to read the travel insurance documents and work out how you would make a claim and what you would do in an emergency. Does the company have a 24 hour helpline? How much excess would they make you pay? What’s the process for making a claim? Work it all out before you cough up the cash.

The trouble with finding the most reliable company is that 99 per cent of people never actually use their facilities. They head off with their cover plan in hand, and return completely unscathed. The people who have actually had to delve through the small print, argue with the ambulance driver, or spend months sending emails and letters to get their compensation are going to be fed up. Ten minutes of googling will bring up hundreds of shitty reviews about evil insurance companies.

Choose the best plan you can afford, with your specific needs in mind. And if you do have to make a claim, be thorough with your evidence, be clear about what you want, and be persistent.

If it turns out you’re not covered for a specific incident, go back to the establishment or transport company involved. As service providers it’s their duty to look after you, so it’s always worth a try. I once got compensated for a £800 replacement flight I had to buy after my budget airline flight was cancelled last minute. Sure, it took months of emails, hundreds of phones calls and a letter to the managing director, but I got my money back. How’s that for tedious?

Next time: Lost in Translation – Tokyo…

Image courtesy of Flickr

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