Should Things Go Wrong – the travel insurance lifeline

London – what happens if you look left?

I don’t consider myself an adventure traveler. After all, I don’t bungee jump, skydive or paraglide.

But you don’t have to be a daredevil to be adventurous. Just crossing a street in a country where the traffic flows in an opposite direction to home can be an adventure.

Looking at my photos recently, I realized that I do take on activities that can result in difficulties. And illness is beyond the adventure issue – it is something that can happen to anyone. With my insurance coming due last month I realized that…

…it was time to take travel insurance more seriously.

For the past couple of years I’ve been running on insurance that I bought off the Internet from a reliable supplier but without any consultation – without talking to anyone to ensure that what I was buying was what I actually needed.

People and motorcycles and tuk tuks compete for space. Negotiating the streets of India is an adventure in itself.

Fortunately, everything went ok with that purchase, but things are changing.

  • I’m traveling more now.
  • Airlines are tightening their carry-on weight restrictions – there have been two occasions recently when my luggage had to go in the hold.
  • Family issues have arisen. I want to be able to delay, cancel or return from a trip early if needed.

Clearly, when looking for insurance this time, my concerns were more complicated. The daughter of an insurance man, it’s only natural that I would want to make sure that I have a travel insurance lifeline should things go wrong.

I watched my mother break both her legs skiing when I was 10 years old so I’m a cautious skier – however, anything can happen on a mountain.

What I considered.

First, I checked to see what my American Express Air Miles card, which I use to book my travel, covers. Then I identified the gaps between what it covers and the actual coverage I want. When you do this, check for:

  • Adequate emergency medical coverage as sometimes there can be limitations.
  • Upfront payment for claims. Many hospitals require payment on the spot which could be a problem for you.
  • Trip cancellation. This is especially important for higher cost trips.
  • Trip delay coverage.
  • Trip length limits.
  • Age restrictions. This doesn’t apply to me yet but if you are over 65 it could.
  • Baggage loss coverage.

Hiking in Patagonia, Chile. Poles are recommended for safety and to protect your knees.

My travel coverage.

I sorted through my insurance options with a customer service representative from American Express Travel Insurance (the sponsor of this post and my insurance provider). There are many to consider so it was really valuable to have someone help me get what was most appropriate for my situation. Everyone is different and has different needs. I acquired:

  • A Multi-trip insurance plan: Yes, I travel many times a year so this allows me an unlimited number of trips in a calendar year.
  • Trip length: got 31-day coverage as that is my usual maximum. If I plan for a longer trip I can call and have coverage extended.
  • Medical coverage including emergency dental expenses. This coverage is quite comprehensive and takes over where my provincial health plan leaves off.  It also includes:
    • Access to multilingual representatives in a travel emergency network.
    • 24-hour access to real-time translation services. The translators can also communicate directly with medical staff taking care of me.
    • Coordination of emergency care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
    • Direct billing for the medical services to American Express rather than me whenever possible.
  • Flight and travel accident insurance
  • Cancellation insurance: $2,000 per trip before departure and $1,500 per trip after departure.
  • Baggage loss – I have coverage for $1,000 to replace my luggage and its contents per trip.

When to buy.

You have to buy travel insurance before you leave on your trip. A 10-minute phone call and the task is done. I got mine one day before leaving for Colorado so I didn’t have the proper paperwork in time for my trip – it came in the mail later. However, I wrote down my policy number and the 800 numbers for support if I needed it and I was good to go.

You are also able to use their online quoting tool to purchase plans and receive policy documents instantly online, providing convenient and easy support!

If you’re buying a tour or cruise, you may want to buy the insurance when you book your trip so that you have cancellation coverage right away.

For more information and to determine the right coverage for your next trip, visit:

You can also call 1-866-774-2674. Their customer service is excellent.

  • Jennifer Crane

    Helpful post! I’ll be traveling for 6 months starting in December and know I need travel insurance. Thanks!

  • Janice Waugh

    It depends on your plans. You need to read them carefully and get advice from each. Usually one plan is identified as the primary plan and others kick in when the coverage of the primary is not sufficient. Regardless, I would always contact my travel insurance company in case of any need.

  • Rosie

    How does it work when you are covered under 3 plans, your employers, spouse’s employer, and credit card(s) For out of country medical, who do you call? Only one, or all three to cover what the others don’t?

  • Nick Smith

    Great post. I’m amazed by how many travelers I meet that say they don’t bother with travel insurance!