Travel Insurance – Necessity or Rip Off?

by | Dec 6, 2005 | Travel and Dining

There was a time I rarely, if ever, purchased travel insurance.  Recently, however, I’ve been buying it more often.  I especially find travel insurance more of a necessity when traveling outside of the US.  My biggest concerns are coverage for medical services, trip delays, and in the event I am taking a cruise, reimbursement if a covered event causes me to cancel my trip.

When it comes to medical coverage, I am also finding it is not just the life-threatening events that would cancel your vacation for which you may wish you had coverage.  For example, on my family’s latest cruise, our daughter, London, came down with a UTI.  Certainly not a life-threatening event, it still needed attention.  A quick check with the ship’s infirmary found the cost of diagnosis and antibiotics in the ship’s infirmary was $200, plus an additional $50 for an appointment during the middle of the afternoon when the infirmary was closed.  I also was certain that Dakota Care would not cover this expense.

The solution?  Quick consumption of copious amounts of cranberry juice relived her symptoms long enough for us to go ashore at the next port of call in Spain and purchase the needed antibiotics.  My wife had spent a reasonable amount of time in Europe and knew that antibiotics were available at pharmacies without a prescription. With a minimal amount of pantomime, pointing, and poor Spanish, we were able to secure the needed antibiotics for $3.  We also made a quick visit to an Internet cafe where I Googled the medication to be sure we received the right drug and correctly understood the dosage.  That research proved that everything was fine.  London recovered completely and quickly.

A fellow passenger didn’t fare as inexpensively.  She got food poisoning on the ship and spent a day in the infirmary.  The cost was $800.  She was annoyed that the medical treatment wasn’t complimentary, since it was the ship’s food that caused the need for medical attention in the first place.  The only reason she wasn’t completely out of sorts about the charges is that she always purchases travel insurance and knew she had coverage.

These experiences have given me a reason to find out more about what my medical insurance does and doesn’t cover when traveling, especially on a ship, since I cruise a fair amount.  I’ll be checking into and reporting on that at a later date. 

Another coverage that travel insurance affords is for expenses for delayed baggage.  We lost our baggage for three days on our departure flight and for one day on our return flight.  We had $400 of delayed baggage coverage and used every bit of it and more buying basic clothing items in Spain.  I’ll let you know how that claim settles, too, and I’ll have further recommendations on coverage and companions to use in a future article.

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