A few weeks ago a 39 year-old man, my age by the way, was evacuated from the luxurious Queen Mary 2 due to signs of heart and kidney failure. The ship was sailing toward Nantucket at the time, so the transfer to the area hospital had to happen via Coast Guard helicopter. It's a tragic occurrence of course, but these things frankly do happen but I couldn't help but wonder if the patient in question was prepared.
The medical evacuation from the ship isn't a free service offered by the US Government. Within a few weeks I imagine that the ill gentleman in question received a hefty bill from the Coast Guard asking to be paid back for the helicopter rescue. Add to that any costs incurred by the cruise line itself, and it's easy to imagine medical and evacuation bills totaling in the many tens of thousands of dollars. While his health insurance will undoubtedly cover the hospital stay, or at least part of it, it's unlikely any coverage he had will help assuage the pain of that medical evacuation bill. Unless he had the appropriate level of travel insurance, of course.
More Benefits Than You Realize
In an unscientific poll of my close friends, most of them said that if they take out travel insurance, which isn't too often honestly, it's because they're going on a trip where they think their lives are in immediate danger. A bungee jump expedition to Nepal or trekking with lions I imagine would both qualify. But on normal trips, like most of us take, to relax and enjoy some time off, they typically don't. This fact still boggles my mind; the point of insurance, whether its auto, home or travel is that we 1) can't predict the future and 2) we can't time travel to fix mistakes. We take out insurance policies for every other potential mishap in our lives, so why not travel? In the case of the gentleman on the cruise ship, I am fairly positive he didn't start the journey anticipating a Coast Guard emergency evacuation via helicopter; it's not your average shore excursion. No, instead an unplanned and unanticipated event happened, necessitating extreme measures be taken. This could happen to any of us at any time doing anything. I could be strolling along the beach, trip and break a leg. I have a friend who was walking down a boat dock on a trip when he slipped and broke his back. Stuff happens, and we need to be prepared for anything whether it's in the safety of our own home or on the road.
But travel insurance is about so much more than physical ailments and falls. I've had to use travel insurance a couple of times this year thanks to our friends at the airlines. Bags lost for so long that I had to buy a new wardrobe meant that I spent a lot of extra money I hadn't planned on, but luckily insurance covers that eventuality. More recently I was on a long haul flight that was delayed. I missed my connecting flight and had to spend the night in a hotel and book a new flight, both costs covered by my travel insurance plan. Travel insurance can cover a lot of these unfortunate events when we vacation and depending on which plan you choose, can include:
- Trip cancellation
- Trip interruption
- Medical/security evacuation
- Lost bags
- Medical expenses
- And so on
We Are Not Invincible and Can't Time Travel
As I get older the more I realize that I'm not really invincible after all. Things do happen and I'm now at the point in my life when I not only realize that, but I want to take certain steps to make sure I'm protected. I travel for a living, so it would be easy for me to become used to the travel experience and get lazy about taking out the proper travel insurance plan. But I try to stay vigilant and take out a policy whenever I'm on the road, because weird and bizarre things DO happen and as often as I've tried, I still can't figure out how to time travel to fix those accidents and mistakes before they happen.
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