You're having the time of your life on this trip, and everything is going smoothly. Suddenly, disaster strikes. There was an earthquake, or you suffered an accident or even worse, death in the family. You don't know what to do, or if you can even afford to deal with the situation, but it doesn't have to be that way.
Here I'll show you what you could do if an unfortunate situation develops on your trip.
Before going any further, I’d like to stress that in order to avoid or minimize any financial burden that comes from these scenarios, you must make sure that you and any companions traveling with you are covered with a good travel insurance policy that includes medical expenses, travel cancellations, evacuation, loss or delay and more. These coverage details are further explained here.
Death of a Family Member Back Home
The news of the death of an immediate family member back home is never easy to hear, and it's even harder when you have to cancel your trip to fly back home. Fortunately, some airlines offer bereavement fares (also known as compassion fares) to help reduce the cost of your flight home in the event of an emergency like this.
To get the bereavement fare, you must call the airline and explain the situation. If the airline offers this fare reduction, in many cases they will ask you to provide proof of kinship and proof of death, as these discounts are only offered to immediate family members.
Usually, the bereavement fare applies to unrestricted full-fare tickets; so also be sure to scan other websites to see if cheaper fares exist. If you’re creative and know these travel hacking tips, you might find even less expensive last minute fares.
Death of a Companion While Traveling
In this unfortunate situation, it is highly recommended to get in touch with the State Department or a U.S. Consulate (or consulate from your country of citizenship), so they can advise and help with funeral and transportation arrangements. Sometimes, language can be an issue, and in many cases, dealing with funeral homes as a foreigner could mean "premium prices."
If the deceased had life or travel insurance, the insurance company should be contacted immediately to see what help and coverage is available. Of great importance is to have Repatriation of Remains available in your coverage, so the insurance covers the return of the deceased remains back to the country of residence.
There is no way that you can avoid an unpredictable natural disaster like an earthquake, tornado, or other act of God. But there are ways to minimize the probabilities, and more importantly, be prepared for them. When you purchase your travel insurance, make sure to read the fine print to certify that you will be covered for any financial loss should a natural disaster strike and affect the region in which you’re traveling. If the area you’re visiting is prone to specific natural disasters at a certain time of the year, it is recommended to visit at another time. It is also advised to register with the State Department’s S.T.E.P. program to let your country know where and when you’ll be traveling, so they are aware of your general location should there be a natural disaster.
Should disaster strike, the first thing you must do is make sure you and your companions are safe, find a safe place where you can wait for help, and be very patient. Services might not work during and after the event, so be patient and don’t panic. As soon as you find a way to communicate, let family members at home know you are okay. It is also good to know your airline’s policy in regard to natural disasters, in case you need to make any changes to your trip.
Chronic Illness or Serious Accident
Getting sick or injured while traveling can happen at any time, even when we are careful. Always be mindful of what kinds of activities you’re doing and how risky they are. Sometimes just being conscious about that fact could significantly reduce your chances of getting hurt.
Severe food poisoning is common in places like India (the famous Delhi Belly). Be mindful of what you eat and have your doctor prescribe Cipro (or similar antibiotic) before your trip to help with any stomach ailment.
All travel insurance policies are different, so make sure you know what yours does and doesn’t cover. If you get injured participating in an extreme activity, know if your policy covers it.
Should you be heading to a remote location, make sure your insurance includes emergency evacuation arrangements to cover your transportation to an appropriate medical facility. And in the extreme case that it’ll be needed, it is good to have medical repatriation in your policy to cover the financial burden of the return home to receive proper care.
It is possible that none of these travel disasters will happen to you, but if something does happen, it is better to know and be prepared to face things properly.
Fun is part of any travel experience, but so is staying protected. Learn more about our policies here!