Travel Insurance – Is It Really Necessary?

Flights, buses, hostel rooms, food, sight-seeing, tours, souvenirs – there are a lot of expenses associated with travel and they add up quickly. If you are planning a budget adventure, you might be wondering whether it is worth it to pay extra for your travel insurance. After all, travel insurance costs can make up a huge chunk of your travel costs. Is it really worth it?

Some might argue that travel insurance isn’t worth it. Perhaps you are travelling in a country such as Thailand where a trip to the hospital for some antibiotics won’t cost you more than $15. Maybe you feel like you are very healthy and safe and the odds of needing extensive medical treatment while abroad are very low.

Consider This…

However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when considering whether or not you need travel insurance…

  1. You never know what is going to happen.
  2. You never know where it is going to happen.

The truth is that, as healthy as you might be, the entire point of insurance is to safeguard you against the unexpected. You could contract a tropical skin infection from scratching that mosquito bite on your foot, have the balcony of your villa collapse while you are on it, have your bag with your asthma medication stolen, have a serious heart attack and require and air ambulance or have all manner of unfortunate experiences abroad. No one plans on these things happening, they just happen.  Travel insurance isn’t for when you get a cold or a dodgy tummy, it’s for when a serious accident happens and you need medicine and hospital care.

Also, sometimes they happen in places where they end up costing you a lot of money. When I needed to get antibiotics in Thailand I didn’t even bother claiming them on my travel insurance because they were so cheap. However, if you get ill while travelling in the USA, consider yourself immediately in thousands of dollars of debt. A stay in hospital in the United States costs more than a luxury five star resort and the costs of operations and other procedures can be in the tens of thousands. That is the kind of money that could make a huge impact on your life and leave you in debt for a very long time.

If Lee had not had travel insurance while visiting Canada, breaking both of his wrists by falling off his bike would have cost us almost $5,000 – which would have really sucked. Luckily, it was all covered. After that experience, we have never been without travel insurance, just in case something like that happens again (and with how clumsy I am, I wouldn’t be surprised!)

Lee breaking both wrists would have cost us nearly $5,000 in Canada if we didn't have travel insurance
Lee breaking both wrists would have cost us nearly $5,000 in Canada if we didn’t have travel insurance

Saving Money on Your Travel Insurance

If you want to save money on your trip, you might want to consider paying for a simple and basic insurance policy. It should be one that covers personal liability, medical treatment and cancellation costs – but not necessarily less serious events such as airport delays and lost luggage. There is no need to insure yourself against these small things, as the cost of dealing with them will likely be equal to what you would have spent in insurance.

Is Going Without Insurance Worth the Risk?

Above all, I would never recommend going travelling without some form of travel insurance. You can go without it, but be aware that you are putting yourself at risk. You might never have to use it (and I hope you don’t) – but it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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