Travel Insurance – needed ? or useless ?

As travel as a pastime, entertainment and necessity has become one the biggest ticket items sold and bought on the Internet, particular by a large seniors’ population, who incidentally require more than anybody else PEACE OF MIND (Oh my God, maybe I suffer a stroke while enjoying myself in a foreign country !), Insurance companies are advertising and selling at all cost and pressurising travelers to buy travel insurance. Sell at all cost, make as an agent your (who knows) 40% commission, but under no circumstances provide the most needed coverage to some poor sod who happens to have travelled out of country. Is travel insurance then useless ? unwanted ? not needed ? not necessary ? I would say so. Today when everything is bought and sold online, how do insurances make money ? They make money on the people who never use it. [ quoted from http://viewfromthewing.boardingarea.com/2013/05/24/the-travel-insurance-scam-read-this-post-before-you-book-your-next-trip/ ].
Point in case: Travel to Europe. Spend several months. Before leaving, buy some travel insurance package, including cancellation insurance, emergency medical insurance, delayed or lost baggage. The insurance company will provide an emergency phone number for the traveller. As you know, in Europe almost no one uses any landline phone, everybody is on a mobile phone (or as we call it: cell phone). Meaning expensive air time and roaming charges. When calling from Europe to North America, where these insurance agents physically reside, nothing but problems with their CALL COLLECT or TOLL FREE phone number (that would only work in North America). Call Collect works in misterious ways. A traveler has a medical emergency and needs to phone the insurance within 72 hours of that incident. If that person ends up in a hospital, a payment out front must be made (give me your credit card!). If that poor traveler is unconscious, he or she will most probably lie in some corner in the hospital, never waking up. Meanwhile the period of 72 hours to call the Travel Insurance overseas, has passed, and the policy is invalid. My recent case: I just spend three months in the South of France, using my cell phone with a French SIM card, that when used costs me a fortune, even if I would ever reach some call collect number. It would be an anwering machine, and waiting times at least ten minutes, costing from Europe like €20 at least. No matter, what kind of contact number the insurance gives you, there are still air time and roaming charges. Call Collect always costs the caller. [ http://www.howtocallabroad.com/qa/toll-free.html ] While international “Toll Free” numbers may work for the insurance company who sells them (usually residing North America), but not for the international traveler who tries to use them. All those (emergency call) numbers offered by North American insurance companies are foremost controlled by the country where a traveler currently resides.
Before leaving I had bought at Pacific Blue Cross $878 travel insurance for three months to cover emergency medical, and cancellation. When I needed them, using their Medi Assist call collect number, no contact, no way to reach them, my service provider hung up. Meanwhile I could have used a small amount (like not more than €50 to pay for a Doctor or Pharmacy). For the Pacific Blue Cross I tested their phone numbers after my return, typical wait times were way over ten minutes. The travel insurance industry has figured out that according to statistics – comparing insurances sold and emergencies covered – it has become extremely profitable to sell travel medical emergency insurance.
As mentioned before, insurances make money on the people who never use it.

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Insurences – how useful are they

In general, the insurance industry is mainly focused on making money, not spending it. Therefore, an insurance policy (fine print) is worded such, that in reality the insured is hardly ever covered. From my own experiences, I have never gained any advantage from buying any insurance at a high cost. The only insurance at a low cost and part of a travel package had been in 2012, when traveling to Tunisia and Marocco. Where in Marrakech I fractured my left foot. And needed a travel medical emergency insurance, because of the cost incurred. Other than that: Most of my travels had been from North America to Europe or maybe Mexico, or the odd cruises. Pacific and Caribbean. Most online travel insurances bought in North America are very expensive, I suspect because of the high incident of liability suits. For example I bought for a four months stay in Germany a travel insurance for around over $2,000. The cost itself is not even the problem. But, the absence of decent communication lines between the insured and the insurer. In Europe regular telephone lines do not exist anymore, only mobile phones. Some insurances still operate with a “collect call” system. Try to call North America collect on a European mobile phone costs a fortune, because of either high wait times or not getting connected at all. Consequently, I cancelled this insurance and bought one in Germany for almost the same time, for around €140.
The same applies to home insurance. In forty years and multiple floodings of my homes in Canada, I never got one cent out of any home insurance, I never even tried to submit a claim. I fixed it and I paid it. Question again: How useful are insurances really ? There are numerous websites and blogs and posts that discuss this topic: “should you buy, or not”.
It is for peace of mind. But even so, if really something serious happens, the insurance would find a way, not to pay [this even rhymes].

TRAVEL EMERGENCY INSURANCES

TIPS ON BUYING TRAVEL INSURANCE

For travel medical emergency or any other travel insurance, my advice is, if you travel from the USA or Canada, try not to buy insurance in North America – be it via a travel agency or some local banks or insurance companies, or online.

My experience has taught me, to get far better deals buying the insurance either in Europe or wherever you travel to, in that country.

I buy everything on the Internet, be it air line tickets or hotels, resorts, travel packages or insurance for the trip.

Example: In 2010 I travelled to Germany and spent over 4 months there in Berlin.

I had taken out a medical insurance on a broker’s internet site. The insurance had their seat in Toronto, Canada. I had a claim, tried to call the insurance from Germany, on my cell phone, told them I need a claim number. They put me on hold at a cost of €20, while some old guy in the background walked away from his desk ?

In conclusion, I cancelled this insurance immediately requesting a refund on my credit card. Then also immediately one day after I bought a travel medical insurance in Germany (including every coverage possible) at a fraction of the cost that the one in Canada had cost me. The insurance in Canada eventually processed the refund, but not my lost telephone costs.

Cost comparison: Canada/USA = $2,000; Germany = €130 same length of trip.

Next example: Beginning of this year, I bought several package travels with a German agency (also online) including for each a good travel medical emergency insurance. Low cost again (for one month travel = €100).

You can trust these agencies there, they will deliver. And most importantly, they are reachable.

The reason for the high cost of insurances in North America most likely is the enormous cost for law suits and third party liability suits.