Travel Insurance Policies

sea urchinThe sale of travel insurance is big business but the value of the policies themselves is sometimes questionable. If your regular group health insurance covers you while you’re on the road it’s probably enough in the South Pacific, as medical costs are generally low in the region. Many policies only pay the amount above and beyond what your national or group health insurance will pay and are invalid if you don’t have any health insurance at all. You may also be covered by your credit card company if you paid for your plane ticket with the card. Buying extra travel insurance is about the same as buying a lottery ticket: there’s always the chance it will pay off, but it’s usually money down the drain.

If you do opt for the security of travel insurance, make sure emergency medical evacuations are covered. Some policies are invalid if you engage in “dangerous activities,” such as scuba diving, parasailing, surfing, or even riding a motor scooter, so be sure to read the fine print.

Some companies will pay your bills directly while others require you to pay and collect receipts that may be reimbursed later. Ask if travel delays, lost baggage, and theft are included. In practice, your airline probably already covers the first two adequately and claiming something extra from your insurance company could be more trouble than it’s worth. Theft insurance never covers items left on the beach while you’re in swimming. All said, you should weigh the advantages and decide for yourself if you want a policy. Just don’t be influenced by what your travel agent says as they’ll only want to sell you coverage in order to earn another commission.