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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Travel Insurance and Risk

By Robert Nickel

There is not hard and fast definition of risk available. Everyone with an interest in philosophy, ethics and legal mumbo-jumbo has a different idea of the meaning. So we are going to discuss risk in the context of insurance, and more specifically, travel insurance. First of all, risk may be a state of uncertainty but it is in terms of negativity or loss. In this way, insurance can be deemed a risk-reducing investment and gambling a risk-increasing investment.

Travel insurance is a particular type of insurance intended to cover losses incurred while traveling. Insurance companies know there are a different set of risks involved with travel, and therefore allow for those unique situations in the policy. Medical and dental expenses are usually the most obvious items on a travelers list of concerns. And while they can be quite overwhelming in size, medical costs are just a small part of what most travel insurance policies cover. For example, it is not unusual for overseas funeral costs and the emergency evacuation or repatriation of the remains of the traveler to be covered. The return of a minor (child) if they become lost is also covered by most policies.

In the area of logistics, it can be common for natural factors to delay travel plans and end up curtailing the entire trip. Hurricanes, earthquakes and other such unpredictable and unstoppable events will easily cease the continuation of a vacation. Travel insurance policies are well known for their coverage of these natural disasters, including reimbursement for such things as delayed departure, lost or stolen baggage, missed flight connection due to airline scheduling issues and trip cancellation.

When a trip overseas includes traveling to a nation deemed as a 'high risk', additional insurance maybe required. Countries that may be included in this definition would include those experiencing a great deal of terrorism, civil war or frequent and devastating earthquakes. The same is true for travelers heading to a destination at a time of year when high risk activities are common. For example, heading to Aspen for a weekend of skiing or going to Australia for deep sea diving.

The most common reason for additional travel insurance would be the presence of pre-existing conditions. Although they seem minor at home, such things as asthma and diabetes can become very risky in a foreign environment. Different air quality, such as a significant increase in smog, can have a serious effect on someone with asthma. A diabetic may become confused with time zones and not eat when they are supposed to, thus inviting an adverse reaction.

All these risks may seem like reasons not to travel, but they aren't. Millions and millions of people with diabetes travel to Mexico every year, and do not lose a limb or find themselves in the center of a hurricane. They go on to have a fabulous experience in a beautiful part of the world, arriving safely home with a yearning to go right back again. But if their thumb did decide to fall off on the beaches of Cancun, travel insurance would cover all the expenses!

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