For my very first big trip, I was still a student. The advantage for me was that I could get travel insurance with my French student healthcare and it cost me next to nothing. Maybe 40 euros for 4 months? Nothing, really.
Only later did I continue to travel whereas my student status was well and truly behind me. Adulthood was reaching out to me and Mom was no longer there to tell me how to take care of myself. Who am I kidding? She still tells me how to do things! To go abroad safely, I needed travel insurance. I looked at several options before realizing that my French credit card, a VISA card, already gave me some options.
The importance of a travel insurance
First, let’s see why it’s so important to have insurance when traveling abroad. You may think that you are in good shape, good health, that you will be careful or that you do not go long enough for that. Certainly. But if you’re used to travel, you know there are always unforeseen circumstances. You will face climates, animals and diseases to which your body is not necessarily accustomed. And what about the activities and sports that you are going to do that will totally change from your daily life? Maybe even with some extra risk, who knows?
Either way, it’s okay to take more risks. It’s even quite fun. But you must keep in mind that you don’t know what can happen. Travel insurance will allow you to take care of certain medical costs or even repatriation if necessary. Pretty reassuring! But it’s not just about health. Some insurances will even legally insure you if your civil liability is ever called into question.
My experience with travel insurance
In Australia, like 5 years ago, I tore one of my pectoral muscles while doing Stand up Paddle. SUP seems quiet, quite harmless. I did it with a friend of mine because there weren’t enough waves at Bondi Beach to surf. I’m not a good surfer at all but I was trying to get into it. So, we rented paddle boards. And there came the drama. The wind picked up and the waves quickly followed. The currents started pushing us towards the cliffs, towards Bondi Icebergs for those who know, and we totally freaked out. Quickly, we tried to get back to the beach but between the currents, the waves, my lack of experience and the rush, I badly fell off my board. As I got back on it, I felt a sharp pain in my left shoulder.
We have returned to the almost intact beach. However, the pain in my shoulder clearly did not improve and a few days later I decided to go see a doctor. What was my surprise when I was told that I had to pay AUD 90 for a simple consultation! Then followed an ultrasound at well AUD 400 if I remember correctly. Then another visit at AUD 90 to read the ultrasound. Then physiotherapy sessions. Without insurance, I would have been ruined! Still, I would never have expected a tear in the pectoral muscle during my stay.
You see where I am going with this, right?
VISA or Mastercard insurance
Why am I talking to you about a credit card in this case? Be aware that some Visa or MasterCard cards include travel insurance in their services. Would a credit card do that? Yes mate! Provided that I pay most of my travel expenses with my Visa card and that I do not leave for more than three months. Look at the benefits I had during my last stay in New Zealand:
- Monsieur was also insured
- Insured in the event of accident or illness including
- transport costs to the hospital
- medical and hospital costs up to € 11,000
- medical repatriation
- Insured in the event of legal proceedings covering:
- the advance of the penal bond, if required by local authorities, up to € 7,770
- advance legal fees, up to € 3,100
Insured in the event of death (my back is cold just thinking about it!) For the repatriation of the body and the cost of the coffin necessary for transport up to € 800.
A word of advice though: be sure to keep your transport tickets (train, plane), boarding passes and invoices. These are supporting documents that can be requested.
Is VISA travel insurance a great option for everyone?
As much as this assurance is extremely useful to me because I rarely travel for more than three months these days, I sincerely believe that it has its limits.
For example, when I went to New Zealand, I went to a country with a temperate climate, without dangerous animals and with optimal sanitary conditions. In addition, I had mainly planned hiking and kayaking. Nothing very dangerous. So, there was little chance that my medical expenses would exceed the limits.
However, for travelers who are going for more than three months or who are going to be doing much more risky activities, I would not recommend.
Also, not all credit cards offer the option. If you have one on the other hand, I think it can be seriously considered depending on your profile and your destination.