Despite traveling frequently, it took me a long time to understand the necessity of travel insurance. I pay for insurance for my car and health, but for some reason, I never bothered with travel insurance. In fact, it took me years to realize that travel insurance isn’t just that check box you hit before you buy a flight — it’s a completely separate purchase.
Many frequent travelers tell me that they always get insurance, but being a budget traveler and not much of an adrenaline junkie or outdoor adventure traveler, I always told myself that my credit card would insure my travels.
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I learned the hard way that I should have listened to my fellow travelers. My travel rewards credit card does insure certain things like rental cars or specific cases of trip cancellation, but it certainly doesn’t cover the majority of trip-related incidents. So if you’re considering skimping out on travel insurance, think again. These are three situations where I wish I had travel insurance — and why it’s something every traveler needs.
Needing Stitches Abroad
I have an addendum to make to my previous statement about adventure travel. I’m not usually an adventurous traveler. However, when I was a teenager I was a little more thrill-seeking, which led me to rent a dune buggy for some desert off-roading in Egypt. On a wrong turn, I hit a large rock and flipped my dune buggy over. By some miracle, I only needed a single stitch — and lots of pain reliever — but it would have been handy to have travel insurance to cover the medical expenses.
Having Cash Stolen
It was still early in my travel days when I visited Iguazú Falls in Argentina. I was on an organized jungle trekking tour, and our entire group was instructed to leave our belongings on the bus since we would be rappelling down a waterfall. The bus driver would be on the bus the entire time, and I naively left my U.S. dollars, along with my Argentinian Pesos, in my bag. I didn’t realize it until we got back to the hotel later that evening, but the $150 USD was gone. I’d planned to use the money for a visa to cross into Brazil to see Iguazú from that side but wasn’t able to. Stolen cash is covered by a lot of insurance plans, and recuperating the funds would have made me feel slightly better about missing out on that experience.
Damaging a Sailboat
My 2017 sailing trip in Greece was the last trip I took without travel insurance. I should have known that something could easily go wrong on a seven-day boat journey, but apparently I can only learn things the hard way. Toilets on boats can’t handle toilet paper, but at one point I completely forgot and — you guessed it — tossed some toilet paper in. One damaged pipe and a very expensive bill later, I vowed to never travel internationally without travel insurance again.
Nowadays, I always purchase travel insurance. Most plans are reasonably priced anyway, and it’s much easier — and more enjoyable — to travel knowing that I’ll have backup if things go wrong.
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