How Much It Will Cost You If You Don't Get Travel Insurance

Should I Get Travel Insurance? 

Yes. Next question.  

In all seriousness, you really should. Every time you book a holiday, you probably get told that you need to buy travel insurance. In fact, you’re probably sick of hearing that and block out the annoying reminder (we promise this isn't another annoying reminder). When you’re planning a trip away, you’re filled with excitement and anticipation; the last thing you want to be thinking about is all the things that could go wrong. 

Unfortunately, the people reminding you to get covered have a point. We’re going to tell you why using one of the aspects that will matter most to you: money. 

There are three things which every single person needs to consider, no matter what kind of trip they’re going on or for how long: luggage, medical complications, and trip cancellation. 


Lost Luggage 

You hop off the plane only to discover that your suitcase is still in the country you just left, or it had been loaded onto a completely different flight.  

Now, we don’t imagine you’re carrying all of your most valuable jewellery and technology in that suitcase but you don’t want to have to pay for a whole new wardrobe when you arrive at your destination.  

There are no extra points if you guess what could help in a situation like this... 


abandoned luggage in airport


Medical Costs 

The cost of medical care is a problem we face day-to-day, regardless of whether you’re jet-setting to the other side of the world or spending another Saturday in your pyjamas. However, without travel insurance, it can make a dream vacation turn quickly into a financial nightmare. We’ve looked at three popular destinations to see how much a trip to the emergency room could cost you. 


doctor taking patient's blood pressure


Australian Healthcare For Tourists

If you're planning a trip to Australia, they have a policy in place called the Reciprocal Health Care Agreements, or the RHCA. It only applies to citizens from the following eleven countries: Belgium, Finland, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden and the United Kingdom. This covers you for essential treatments such as X. If you’re from any other country, you’ll have to pay $1000 (AUS) for every day you’re in the hospital. That’s pretty painful (although the broken leg is still more painful). 

Everything will be added to your bill. If you live in Europe, that can seem like such a baffling concept when national health services cover most medical issues, unless you make the decision to go private. However in other countries, like the US and Australia, you are expected to pay for everything or be covered by your insurance. 


European Healthcare For Tourists

Europeans travelling to another EEA country or Switzerland need the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for access to state-provided healthcare for free or at a reduced cost. This is a free card and could save you a lot of hassle as well as money. 

For non-EU nationals, a trip to A&E can cost upwards of hundreds of euros, potentially even thousands before you receive any treatment, although the exact cost will vary widely from country to country. Many European destinations will require you to pay upfront, like Italy and Germany. 


US Healthcare For Tourists

If you’re travelling to the United States, you’re probably already aware of the way healthcare works over there. Even as an American citizen, without insurance you will face a huge bill if you fall ill. Whether it’s just a trip for the weekend or a month-long vacation, insurance which covers all manner of potential medical problems is an absolute must.   

For example, if you’re walking through one of the National Parks and happen to lose your footing, or you’re trying to cross the street in one of the big cities and a car doesn’t see you.  

An ambulance in the US costs anywhere between $400 and $1200 (USD), and that’s before you even get to the hospital. An air ambulance if you’re in the middle of the woods or the ocean will set you back $2000 to $20,000. When you arrive at the hospital, they may take blood tests to make sure you’re not infected: $100 to $3000, depending on the type of test. An X-ray or MRI to see if there are any breaks: between $1000-$5000. If your leg is broken, the operation to fix it will cost you anywhere in the ballpark of $17,000 and $35,000, depending on whether you need to be asleep for it. Oh yeah, and the pleasure of the anaesthesia will add an extra $500 to $3,500 to your overall bill.  

So, just one complication on holiday will wrack up a nice debt of $21,000 to $247,700. 


infographic of us medical costs for tourists


Trip Cancellation  

This is something we’ve talked about before, but it’s important to reiterate just how necessary it is.   

Let’s say you break your leg before you’ve even brought your suitcase down from the attic. You could end up still paying for a vacation whilst you have to stay at home on the sofa, which really just adds insult to injury. Considering the fact that most travel plans are non-refundable nowadays, this is a fairly likely scenario.  

Unless you have trip cancellation insurance. This covers you for up to 75% of the costs from your holiday, which is a lot better than a fat bill from a hotel in Cancun whilst you’re watching the X Factor at home.  

You do have other options if this should happen though, as you can simply list them on and sell them to someone else. You could make back as much as the insurance company was offering in the first place. 


How to pick your travel insurance  

Okay, enough of the fear-mongering. Travel insurance is tricky. We get it. How do you know if what you’re getting will cover you? How much should you spend? Who should you buy it from?  

  1. The first thing you need to do is think of some of the possibilities mentioned above, like medical costs. You’d rather be thinking about which pair of flip flops to bring, or which bar to go to first, but if it could save you thousands to just preempt some of the possible problems.
  2. Do your research. Don’t just pick the cheapest provider or the one that’s offered to you during the booking process by the airline.  

  3. Make sure that they tailor your insurance for everything you need. For example, there’s often an extra charge if you’re planning on doing physical activities like skiing or snowboarding. You don’t want to pay for that if you’re going to be lying on a beach in Greece, but you also don’t want to get caught out with a large medical bill if you end up in a hospital in Canada. 

  4. Ask questions. Contact different insurance companies and ask them anything you’re not sure about – no question is stupid.  

  5. Finally, don’t skip it because it’s too hard (or boring) to understand. We don’t want to sound like your mum or dad here but it’s important


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Posted 5 February 2019

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