What makes a quality travel insurance policy?

How to make sure you are properly covered.

You may be under the impression that all travel insurance policies in various parts of the world are roughly the same.

Beware: there are important differences between various policies that you cannot spot on first sight. Travel insurance policies often look like they offer similar benefits, but the most important differences are often hidden away in the terms and conditions.

Columbus Direct discusses the most important benefits to look out for when buying travel insurance.

1. Does your travel insurance pay your medical bills directly?

Imagine you are involved in a road accident whilst travelling. You may need urgent transport to a hospital and advanced medical treatment. Medical treatment is very expensive and in an emergency situation, the least you want to do is worry about these costs. But should you?

A lot of travel insurance policies don’t guarantee any medical bills and will only pay you back your medical expenses once you are back in your country of residence. If that’s the case, hospitals can ask you for a credit card or other means to guarantee your hospital bills before they will admit you to hospital. Considering how expensive medical treatment abroad can be, you’ll want to have a policy where emergency assistance services arrange for emergency transport and treatment in a decent hospital and guarantee your bills (in case they have approved the relevant transport and treatment). You therefore don’t have to show any credit cards in an emergency and don’t run the risk of having to pay yourself. Even more importantly, you can immediately receive the help and treatment you need!

Columbus Direct International Travel Insurance policies guarantee your bills up to 14 million € if medical treatment is arranged and approved by the medical assistance company.

2. How much medical cover do you really need to cover all your costs?

In the case of an emergency you need enough cover to pay for the medical care and transport, which could even involve repatriation back to your home country. You might think that a few tens of thousands of dollars/euro’s is enough, but in many countries the cost of good treatment is exorbitantly high. For example, the cost of a heart bypass in the USA would cost around 100.000 $ already, and a hip replacement would set you back 40.000 $ already (source: medsolution.com)

You can imagine that intensive care treatment after an accident, including emergency transport, recovery & multiple surgeries could result in an astronomically high hospital bill that you simply cannot afford.

Columbus Direct International offers a medical benefit of 14 Million €, which should be enough in most cases!

3. What about reciprocal health agreements in Europe?

These agreements are useful, but don’t provide you with comprehensive cover. For example, the European health insurance agreements state that every European citizen will be treated the same as the local residents (you often need to have an “EHIC” card to be covered). So if a certain country offers free medical treatment in its country, all European citizens will get the same medical treatment. If medical treatment is not free, every European citizen has to pay the same rates for medical treatment.

As a result, these reciprocal health agreements may not cover you for expensive hospital bills, repatriation costs, emergency rescue, or accidental death. This can cause the cost for medical problems/emergencies to pile up and if you don’t have sufficient travel insurance cover, you will have to pay for this yourself.

Columbus Direct International offers a complete package of benefits to give you complete peace of mind, including cover for personal accident, repatriation and a daily allowance for expenses when you are in hospital.

4. Baggage and valuables

One of the basic benefits of travel insurance is baggage cover. But also baggage cover can be deceptive. Does your travel insurance policy protect your belongings against theft only or also against loss and damage? Are your valuable items like jewellery excluded from cover in the small print? Does it cover losing your passport or money during the trip? What if your baggage arrives late due to an error by your airline, are you covered for purchasing necessities whilst you are waiting for your baggage to be delivered? Make sure you check what “baggage cover” really comprises of.

Columbus Direct International does not compromise on baggage cover and covers your baggage up to 3.750€ including theft, loss and damage of your baggage, your travel documents, personal money and valuable items up to 450 €. We even cover the cost for purchasing necessities up to 300€ in case your baggage is delayed!

5. Cancellation cover for self-organised trips

Cancellation cover is not always as straightforward as it seems: Some insurance companies may only pay for your cancellation cost if your trip is booked through an authoriszed travel agent or part of a holiday package. That could result in some serious disappointment if you have booked your holiday yourself on the internet. Furthermore, you are often only covered if your holiday has been booked within a short time period prior to the date you have bought your travel insurance, which may render your cover invalid.

Columbus Direct International offers 7.500 € cancellation cover and also covers self-organised trips, as long as you can prove your cancellation expenses by supplying original travel documents when filing a claim. Furthermore, you can book our cancellation insurance up to a day before you leave regardless of when you booked your trip!

6. Winter Sports cover and other dangerous activities

Travel insurance often does not include cover for winter based and other sports / activities. If you get injured during a casual game of football or tennis on holiday, you may not be covered by your travel insurance policy. The same goes for skiing: Skiing is often not covered by a standard insurance policy!

Columbus Direct international covers the following as standard on all its international travel insurance policies:
Badminton, Basketball, Beach Volley Ball, Boccer, Boxing training (no contact), Cycling – not touring, Dinghy Sailing (inside 20km limit), Elephant Riding (1-2 days), Golf, Hiking, Kayaking/ Canoeing/ Rafting involving white water rapids grades 1, 2 and 3, Kite Surfing, Horse Riding involving the use of protective head gear (but excluding Eventing, Show- jumping or taking part in any equestrian competition) Marathon Running, Martial Arts training (no contact), Mopeds, Motorcycling on vehicles under 125cc, Mountain Biking, Overland Expedition, River sledging, Running, Safari, Sailing Inshore (inside 20km limit), Sea Canoeing, Snorkelling, Squash, Surfing, Table Tennis, Tennis, Trekking (not requiring the use of ropes, guides or oxygen), Water Skiing, Weightlifting, Windsurfing on a lake.

Furthermore, we can cover the following sports and activities for an additional premium:
Abseiling, American Football, Ballooning, Bungee Jumping (maximum 2 jumps), Cricket, Deep Sea fishing (inside 20km limit), Fencing, Flights in a licensed passenger carrying light aircraft or licensed passenger carrying helicopter, Football, Gliding, Gymnastics, Hockey, Jet Boating, Kayaking/Canoeing/Rafting involving white water rapids grades 4 and 5, Parascending, La Cross, Polo, Rugby, Scuba Diving (with a qualified diving instructor to a maximum depth of 30 metres), Windsurfing ands Wintersports Columbus Direct International offers free winter sports cover (21 days) on its annual insurance policies!

A Final word on cover limits

It is not difficult to find “budget” travel insurance with very low cover limits on the internet. These budget policies could save you a few euros/dollars, but if you take into account the full amount you spend on your holidays, isn’t it a good idea to go for the decent travel insurance and pay a bit more for complete peace of mind?

What if your travel insurance cover levels are not high enough to cover the damage you have accidentally caused in your hotel room, or what if you need legal help and your policy doesn’t offer enough legal expenses cover for decent legal assistance? In the big scheme of things, a few euros/dollars extra for decent travel insurance won’t break your budget and is money well spent!

Columbus Direct International travel insurance products do not compromise on cover limits and all our policies offer excellent protection. In some countries you will be able to find lower priced travel insurance, but if you do, have a look at the cover limits and make sure they are adequate for peace of mind abroad!