Before we started traveling deliriously, we didn't give much attention to travel insurance. We knew it was out there, but - for us - it was just a bothersome entity that served only to make us feel paranoid about everything that might possibly go wrong. What if a dog bites one of us? What if I step on a rusty nail? (Cue the ominous music.)
That all changed a few years back, when we adopted this "no vacation required" (NVR) life and found ourselves on the road a lot. We're now pretty big fans of travel insurance. Here's why.
Case #1: You REALLY never know what might happen out there in the world.
Before embarking on our multi-month life-changer of a journey to South America, we got the deluxe travel insurance package - medical, trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage delay, baggage theft. The works. Full disclosure. We never would have gotten this had it not been required by the organization we were set to volunteer with. It was probably a good idea, given that we were to be volunteering in a place with parasite filled water, etc.
Well, everything was humming right along until our last day in Ecuador. On the day we were set to jet off to Argentina, we arrived at the airport to learn that there was an accident. An airplane was stranded at the end of the runway, preventing other planes from taking off. They were telling anxious travelers to not even bother staying at the airport because the accident had to be investigated before the plane could be moved.
Of course we had handed back the keys to our rental apartment, so we felt stuck. We then remembered our fancy-schmancy travel insurance package. We jumped online and researched the details and were happy to see that everything would (should) be covered - hotel, food, taxis, misc. expenses. We were stoked and couldn't get out of the airport fast enough. The veins in our foreheads were throbbing and threatening a stroke, thanks to the mob scene and the arguing with airport/airline officials.
We made it out of Ecuador a couple of days later but were skeptical about getting everything reimbursed. Once down in Argentina we called our insurer and filed the necessary paperwork. A few weeks later, we had a check covering everything.
Case #2: Healthy one day, unable to walk the next.
You may remember our recent last-minute journey to Denver (with a cane in tow). Caanan had a ca-razy quick-onset foot problem that hit right before we took off for Denver. It left him in unbearable pain if he put even the tiniest bit of pressure on his foot. Thus, the cane.
As it turned out,the foot got better in Denver. He was able to ditch the cane within a few days. Then about a month later, in Florida, the same thing happened again. Near the end of our time in Orlando - out of the blue - the foot pain hit him again. Walking was unbearable. Being in theme-park territory involves a lot of walking, so we didn't mess around. We got online and made an appointment at a nearby clinic.
Get this... When we arrived at the clinic and provided the details of our travel insurance, the clinic said they would bill our insurer directly. We didn't even have to pay upfront. Well, the foot problem got resolved but, once again, we were left wondering if travel insurance would pull through for us. Again, we filled out some basic paperwork and waited a few weeks. Still skeptical, we were surprised to see everything paid in full. No questions.
Case #3: If #1 and #2 aren't enough.
Our sister shattered her ankle while on safari in Africa. Can you even imagine? Talk about the middle of nowhere. She, too, had travel insurance and says that she was treated like a queen. Their insurer even flew them back to the United States first class. I know... it makes you think twice about just how bad it would be to shatter your ankle while on safari. Kidding.
So, that's all we have, and we know that our's does not represent all opinions on the topic. We went from being travel insurance avoiders to being skeptics to, now, promoting the hell out of it. We're not quite ready to advertise on their behalf, but feel free to shoot of an e-mail if you want to know the specific company that we go through. Update 11/3: We woke up with a bunch of e-mails asking us about what travel insurance provider we use. It's Global Travel Shield. Originally, we didn't want to post the provider's name, because we don't want this post to come across like a sponsored ad. In a future post, we'll write about what to look for in a provider.
Are you surprised by this? What has your experience been with travel insurance providers?