Do I Need Travel Insurance to Take a Vacation?

Travel insurance can protect a person from many hazards. Depending on the extent of the coverage, it can get you a refund if plans change and you need to cancel your flight, cover lost or stolen cover lost or stolen belongings, or even cover your medical expenses if you are injured or get sick on vacation.

But not everyone gets insurance before setting out on their travels. Some people forget about in the excitement of making their plans – it’s hard to fault someone for being distracted by the anticipation of lounging on the beach with a cocktail. However, some people simply choose not to pay for the protection – it’s easier to fault this line of thinking.

In cases where you’ve elected or neglected to purchase a travel insurance policy, here are your options.

See if you Already Have Coverage

Lots of credit cards provide automatic travel insurance coverage. This is especially common among travel rewards cards. It’s worth going online or calling your credit card company to see if your card offers protection. But coverage usually comes with the stipulation that your trip was paid for with that card.

If your place of employment offers benefits, it may also provide travel insurance. This is less common than with credit cards, but it’s worth looking into. After all, you wouldn’t want to pay for something you already have.

However, not all policy coverages are created equal, it’s important to know the extent of that coverage. Your credit card or benefits package may provide cancellation insurance, or may provide emergency medical insurance, but maybe not both or maybe not enough of either. Coverage provided through these sources is usually limited and restrictive, so don’t just assume you have all the coverage you need. For example, these types of coverage won’t protect claims associated with pre-existing conditions.

Even with credit card or benefits coverage, be sure to read your policy carefully. In many cases, it will be wise to purchase additional insurance to cover the gaps.

Travelling Without Insurance

To drive a car in Canada, you need auto insurance. To get a mortgage, you’ll need property insurance. But travel insurance is different. You don’t need it to go on vacation.

If you neglect to purchase a policy and don’t have coverage from your credit card or work benefits, you’ll still be able to travel, at least most of the time (see section below).

Travelling without insurance spares you from paying a premium, but it also exposes you to risks. Not only might you encounter the inconvenience of your trip being interrupted or your luggage being lost without compensation, you may also wind up on the hook for a massive medical bill.

So while electing to travel without insurance can save you a few bucks, it might end up costing you a hefty sum.

When You’ll be Forced to get Coverage

While it’s mostly true you don’t need travel insurance to leave the province or country, certain places require proof of emergency medical insurance before you enter. This includes Cuba and the United Arab Emirates.

In some cases, the cost of the mandatory insurance will be added as a surcharge to your airline ticket. Alternatively, plan ahead and buy your travel insurance before you head to the airport and leave the country.

The Easiest Solution

With the exception of a couple destinations, travel insurance is not mandatory, but it’s generally a good idea to have. It is often more affordable than you may think, especially when you consider it an add-on cost to your trip; after paying for transportation and accommodation, the cost of travel insurance often feels negligible. And paying a small fee can make a big difference.

Sure, you might end up not using your insurance, but if the unexpected happens, you’ll be elated to have the coverage. Even if you don’t end up calling on your insurer, knowing that you’re covered makes it a lot easier to relax when you’re away from home, and sometimes that itself is worth the cost.