People often mistakenly think travel insurance is only for international or really expensive trips. While those trips tend to need insurance the most, even a quick domestic trip can benefit from insurance – a lesson my father learned the hard way.
The story (without travel insurance)
An unexpected injury
Last October, my father set out across the United States to attend a wedding. He flew from Florida to Oregon a few days early to spend time with his brothers and sisters. During a friendly game of volleyball, Dad reached out to hit the ball and felt a pop in his Achilles’ tendon.
A trip to the emergency room and a round of x-rays confirmed the diagnosis: he ruptured his Achilles tendon. He was given a boot for his foot, a pair of crutches and told to come back the next day to discuss options with the doctor.
The next day was spent coordinating care with my father’s primary care physician in Florida, the orthopedist in Oregon and the medical insurance company. Surgery was discussed, however it would be at least two weeks post-surgery before he would be able to fly home. Based on that, the doctors decided to delay surgery until my father returned to Florida.
Requiring a flight upgrade
Traveling across the country with a foot injury is difficult. It was a five hour flight with a layover in Atlanta. My father needed to remove the boot and elevate his foot a couple of times every hour – something impossible to do sitting in coach. The biggest concern was that he would develop a blood clot, which could cause a range of additional complications.
When my father initially contacted the airlines, they quoted him an additional $1,500 to upgrade him and my mother to business class for the flight home. He told them he’d think about it – that’s a lot of money to pay on top of the airfare he had already purchased. When he called back the next day, the airline quoted a lower price of $500 for the pair of tickets. My father jumped at this price difference and upgraded his flight home.
Tallying the Expenses
Fortunately, my father has excellent health insurance that covered his medical bills so far from home. In the end, his out-of-pocket expense was the additional $500 for the flight upgrade.
The story (with travel insurance)
Let’s pretend that my parents traveled with an insurance policy from RoamRight. Based on their trip details and age, they could have purchased a Preferred policy for $132.00. Travel insurance would have been helpful in several ways.
Dad’s medical insurance covered all of his treatment and supplies. However, most insurance plans would not have been so accommodating, especially when out of network. If he had a different insurance plan, Dad expects he could have paid up to $500 out-of-pocket for the boot, crutches and treatment he received in Oregon.
RoamRight’s emergency accident and sickness benefit would have covered such expenses, minus a $50 deductible.
The first quote for a flight upgrade that was provided by the airline was $1500. Let’s assume Dad just accepted that price, and he didn’t get lucky with a lower quote the next day. As a medically-necessitated flight upgrade, RoamRight would have covered the difference in price for his ticket. If his physician requested a non-medical escort for his travels, my mother's ticket upgrade would have been covered as well.
Dad could have also used RoamRight’s travel assistance services to help make these flight arrangements. Rather than dealing with the airline himself, he could have called the 24-hour assistance line and someone could have made the flight arrangements and provided other helpful information in how to cope with a medical emergency far from home. This is an invaluable resource to help ease headaches associated with the administrative side of a travel emergency.
Worst Case Scenario Expenses
If my father had not had a little luck – and good primary medical insurance – on his side, he could have paid almost $2,000 for this experience, most of which would have been covered by an affordable travel insurance policy. (The only thing that may possibly have not been covered is my mother's flight upgrade, and that was dependent upon the doctor's orders). Even with his good fortune, Dad could have saved more than $300 by protecting himself with travel insurance.
This is just one example of how a quick family trip across the country turned into a medical and travel mess. Complications would have grown exponentially if the injury had been more severe or if he wasn’t in an area with good medical care. Travel insurance is just a small percentage of the overall trip cost – and can be valuable financial protection, whether you’re traveling abroad or staying closer to home.
Want to see how much travel insurance will cost for your next trip? Use the quote box at the top of this page to find out!