We are heading to Mexico in a couple of days (second attempt at the vacation that got cancelled back in January), so I thought it would be a good time to discuss the topic of Travel Insurance and why it isn’t all that when it comes to Fibromyalgia, but it’s still a good idea for issues like weather (which I’m hoping isn’t an issue on this trip).
I have read many recommendations about buying travel insurance. I’ve probably made that recommendation myself a time or two. I know I’ve purchased travel insurance a couple of times. And, just as often I’ve been unable to use it (despite having to cancel the trip/ event). Why? One of two reasons:
1. Most travel insurance plans do not cover chronic illness, or any pre-existing condition. Basically, the only way you can even apply for it is if it’s an issue that comes up out of nowhere.
2. Even if it’s an issue that comes up out of nowhere, you’ve got to get a Dr to not only supply documentation but be willing to fill out the forms that the travel insurance provides. Good Luck!
I learned the hard way that travel insurance and chronic illness don’t necessarily go together. The first time I ran up against it was when I bought insurance to cover concert tickets. I didn’t read the fine print until I needed to use. Then I went online to try to get reimbursed only to be provided with a mountain of paperwork that my doctor needed to fill out and sign off on. At the time I was pretty sick and just decided it wasn’t worth the stress it would cause me. The last time was back in January when I hurt my neck / shoulder. I actually looked a little closer at the travel insurance this time around and realized that it wouldn’t cover me if I just had a Fibro flare (pre-existing). However, it wasn’t a Fibro flare that prevented us from taking our trip, it was my whacked out back/ shoulder / neck. Of course, I was dealing with Dr. Obvious at the time when I needed the paperwork, and he wasn’t remotely willing to sign off for me, let alone fill out the paperwork. “We don’t do that.”
So, what can you do?
- Know the Value – Can you afford to lose the hundred bucks you just spent on concert tickets? Probably. Hopefully you can or you probably shouldn’t have bought them. If you can afford to lose what you are spending, it’s not worth spending more for insurance. You insure things you can’t afford to lose / replace (like a car, your health, life). If you wouldn’t have missed it, don’t insure it.
- Read the Fine Print – before you buy travel insurance, read the fine print and know what is expected in order for you to use it. Can you cancel under any circumstances ? Those are the keywords you are looking for. If you can’t cancel under any circumstances, for any reason. Then you may want to save yourself the money. In addition to when it can be used, know what the terms are on how you file a claim and what is required. Do you need a doctor’s letter within a certain number of days?
- Know What’s Covered – There are many types of travel insurance. If you are going on a trip make sure that your coverage not only includes cancellation, but also trip interruption (if you get sick in the middle of the trip), and evacuation (if you need to be transported to a hospital). If you are traveling outside of your home country you may also want to consider Travel Medical Insurance as many health insurance plans do not cover you when you travel abroad (including cruise ships).
- Check Your Payment Method – Many times certain credit cards (American Express, for example) will provide a certain level of travel insurance if you buy your tickets using that card. Make sure you understand the coverage and that it meets your needs before you rely on it.
- Talk to Your Doctor – if you have a trusted doctor, your specialist or general practitioner, talk to them before you schedule your trip. Make sure they are comfortable with your plans and ask them ahead of time if they would be willing to provide a letter should something happen to cancel your trip. Talking with them in advance will avoid an awkward issue later.
- Research. Don’t rely solely on whatever travel insurance is offered to you by your travel agent, airline, or booking service. You can buy travel insurance independent of your booking. Do your own research ahead of time and find a travel insurance that will meet your needs.
After the experiences I’ve had with travel insurance it will probably go on my list of “ways to waste my money” and things to avoid. However, there are certainly times when it is probably worth the money, if the right insurance can be found. The most important thing is that now I know what to look for and what to avoid (and so do you).
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