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  • Victoria Hardison-Sterry

Travel Insurance: It seems like a good idea, but does it make financial sense?

In 2017 we experienced:

- (22) Cat 4 or 5 rated Hurricanes

- an additional (17) named storms

- over 1 million flight delays

- approximately 750,000 lost pieces of luggage

Travel insurance can help you in each of these, plus 55 other instances too.

So what is Travel insurance and why do you need it? Travel insurance provides you with two things that gives you peace of mind. 1) It protects the investment you have already made. 2) It protects you, and your wallet, from any unforeseen costs that could arise should you get sick or injured. But the question is... is peace of mind worth a little extra financial commitment?

Meet Elaine Manipol, a lifestyle blogger for "My Little Gold" and a resident of Winnipeg, Canada. Elaine loves to explore and experience different cultures of the world! On her Blog, Elaine gives her personal experience of using travel insurance. With Elaine's permission, I want to share her story of traveling in the Philippines and how travel insurance helped her immediately. For the complete story, visit:

I woke up in a bit of pain in my right eye and figured I may have scratched my eye taking out a contact lens. It happens. I then began to flush my eye with artificial tears and hoped for the best.

Well, an hour later my eye was in pain. I spoke to my brother who also worked at the Ophthalmology office I use to manage and he thought it was scratched as well so him and my mom went to a local pharmacy and picked up an OTC ointment for me to use. It felt better but not really.

Then it started to get scary. Slowly it started to hurt a lot. And my eye became really blurry. I contemplated going to the local emergency and then realized we had to leave to catch our flight to Thailand in a few hours.

I panicked. My eye was going dark, there was pus coming out, it was in so much pain, and we were getting on a flight to a country I didn’t know and didn’t speak the language.

Once checked in at the airport, waiting for our flight, I used my extra detective Google skills and searched “eye emergency Bangkok”.

Well, I stumbled upon an eye hospital called “Rutinin Eye Hospital” which had great reviews from travelers saying that this hospital was great and they spoke English. I didn’t care, I just needed a hospital that spoke English that would see me asap. I called, confirmed they spoke English, and got an appointment with an Ophthalmologist about 2 hours after our flight landed.

The first Ophthalmologist saw me right away. And he was scared. My eye scared him. By this point, I couldn’t open it and couldn’t see anything when I did.

He asked how long I’d be in Thailand (we were leaving after one more night) and he said “Oh no. No no. You’re going to have to stay a long time. With your eye like this. I’m going to have you see the corneal surgeon. Your cornea is badly infected.”

So I’m crying at this point. And also as I type this. It brings back such memories. I remember being so so scared and sobbing in the hospital. The things that were going through my mind;

- I’m going to lose my eye.

- I need surgery. I’m going to stay in Thailand for a long time.

- Will I ever be able to see again?

- How am I going to pay my rent?

- How am I going to pay for a surgery and weeks stay at the hospital?

-Will my travel insurance cover this? That was another concern. Surgery in a foreign country is expensive! So I panicked, took my brother’s phone, and bought additional coverage hoping it would help if anything further needed to be done.

I wish I would have thought about additional travel insurance before my trip. But you never really think about it! I mean, how many trips have I been where I didn’t need it? Probably at least 50.

But it just takes one.

Just one trip. Just one time. Just once to need the travel insurance.

This was that time.

A few hours later I was able to see the corneal surgeon. My cornea was melting as we speak and it was a severe corneal ulcer. There was a hole in my cornea.

She started me on round the clock antibiotics. I was to stay at the hospital overnight but they didn’t have beds and since my mom is a nurse, she could help me with my drops.

I saw her again in the morning. She gave me more medication, said I was safe to fly back to Manila and to see her colleague there. My entire visit with medication and small procedure of cutting my eyelashes worked out to be $150 Canadian. I really lucked out. I know I’d have to pay for the visits in Manila and they would be a bit more expensive but I didn’t care. I just wanted my eye to get better. Those visits worked out to be $80 Canadian and well worth every cent. I was super fortunate that I did not require surgery and have to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time. Who knows how much that bill would have been!

Fast forward to today and my eye is a million times better. It doesn’t hurt anymore and I can see out of the eye now. It’s quite blurry because the ulcer has left a scar, but I got to keep my eye and that’s what matters.

I’ve learned that you could never be too careful. That something that happens to one in a couple hundred thousand people, could happen to you.

It happened to me.

So ladies and gents, get travel insurance. Get it before you go ANYWHERE. You never really freaken know when you’ll need it and it’s just such a small investment in your health.

Only 15% of travellers get insurance, and many get it while they are already travelling!

Most people know that travel insurance helps with medical assistance, but there are so many more advantages to travel insurance than just medical.

Here is a breakdown of what travel insurance can be used for:

  • Emergency Medical - Most companies assign your claim a "Medical Assistance Coordinator" who handles communication with all parties. This includes; Airline, Doctors, Hotel, Hospital Billing, Primary Insurance, Emergency Evacuation team, Family.

  • Trip Cancellation

  • Trip Interruption

  • Travel Delay

  • Emergency Transportation

  • Inclement Weather

  • Uninhabitable residence

  • Cancel for Career/Work – including military

  • Unforeseen Strikes

  • Jury Duty

  • Hurricane

  • Baggage Loss/Damage

  • Baggage Delay

  • Change Fee Coverage

  • Loyalty Program Redeposit Fee Coverage

  • Pre-Existing Medical Condition

  • 24-Hr Hotline Assistance Plus

  • Lost / Stolen Travel Documents

Another perk is that travel insurance purchased on your own covers your entire trip and all that you do during it. Many people purchase insurance through the carrier in which they book. But many carriers only cover the period when you are with them and under their care. For instance, if you purchase insurance through a cruise line, many don't provide coverage when you are off the ship on your own and not on an excursion booked with them. This would include taxis, shore excursions booked on your own, shopping on your own, etc.

Now lets talk costs. Here are some things to remember when asking for a insurance quote:

  • You need a quote for EVERY traveler.

  • For most policies, kids under 17 are free with a policy for an adult.

  • What is the traveler's age for the insurance policy based on? Date of the trip or date of purchasing the trip?

  • Review the different policies within the insurance company. This would be like a Platinum, Gold, or Silver package. Make sure you are evaluating value and not price.

  • Ensure the insurance is based on the cost per person and not the cost of the trip. For instance, if the total cost of your trip is $15,000 and you have 3 people traveling, insurance should be based on a $5000 per person.

The providers will use a few pieces of personal information, other than the cost of your trip, to calculate the cost of a plan:

  • Age of the travelers

  • Number of travelers

  • Length of travel

  • Type of coverage

You should expect a plan will cost anywhere from 3%-9% of your total pre-paid, nonrefundable trip cost.

Lastly, purchase your policy as soon as you put down a deposit toward your trip, but only cover whatever amount is nonrefundable; you can adjust the policy as needed. So if you are purchasing your tour now and flight later, only purchase enough for the tour. Then when you purchase your flight, call the insurance carrier and adjust your package to include flights.

Hopefully this gave you a bit more insight into Travel Insurance. If you have any questions or want more information please feel free to email me at

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