Statistics gathered from various surveys and sources around the world are published all the time and, worryingly, they continue to show that a large percentage of people still take risks by going on overseas trips without travel insurance. A lot of the uninsured are young people – the very ones who are more likely to get themselves into difficulties.
Why people still resist purchasing insurance is anyone’s guess: perhaps an unrealistic expectation that nothing will go wrong? A basic instinct to save every penny for things that are more fun? A lack of understanding of what travel insurance offers? A belief that someone else will pick up the pieces? Or a mistaken belief that insurance does not pay out so what’s the point!
A word on this: disputes over claims are sadly often due to the customer having failed to read the policy terms and conditions and only discovered a particular situation was not covered when it was too late. These days it is very easy for a disgruntled customer to vent on a social media website, when perhaps they only have themselves to blame. This may give others the false impression that insurance does not pay out and is not worth it.
Unfortunately, there is no easy way round it; buying travel insurance is just like any other type of contract and it is up to you to make sure you understand what is and is not covered. Most insurance websites include FAQ (frequently asked questions) pages on their websites, and have customer service operators available to answer questions.
If you purchase insurance well in advance of your trip you have the peace of mind of cancellation cover in the event of unforseen and covered events (jury duty, redundancy, illness or death of a travelling companion or family member, etc.). If you leave travel insurance until the last minute (often done on the way to the airport!) that is better than not having it at all, but you are setting yourself up for potential problems. What if the policy is not adequate for what you have planned? There is a cooling off period where you can cancel and obtain a full refund of the premium, but if you have already left on your trip it is unlikely you will do this – and instead just leave your fate to luck.
A lot of parents drop their kids off at the airport with a hug, kiss and a wave as they depart on their gap year adventures, weekend city breaks, stag or hen party trips, or holidays in the Costas. What parents often do not often realise is that without insurance they may well find themselves responsible to pay for anything that goes wrong while their kids are abroad. This could include huge medical bills, expensive repatriation by air ambulance, paying to replace lost or stolen passports and travel documents, and a whole host of unpleasant scenarios.
It seems that many people still believe that these types of problems are someone else’s job to clean up. Unfortunately, the consulate or embassy does not pay medical bills, or repatriation costs, or compensation to third parties for damage, or free replacement passports. Someone has to pay and unless your kids are independently wealthy that person will probably be you, the parent!
Kids will be kids, and they may not be ‘grown up’ for many years beyond the age when you think they should. Young people have the gift of feeling invincible, but with the wisdom of years parents should know better. If your kids are not acting responsibly by taking out insurance why not step in and do it for them. Chances are that they will not have pre-existing medical conditions to worry about and single trip and backpacker travel insurance policies are easy to obtain and can be very cheap.
You’ll want to look forward to picking up your kids from the airport on their return without any bad feelings. So, why not do them and yourself a favour and give them the gift of travel insurance before they go!