The Travel Essential You Need to Buy Before You Fly

The photo might be a dead giveaway, but if you guessed that I’m about to talk about travel insurance (which I’m sure you did, because you’re a smart cookie), well… you’re right!

Remember when I said I’d joined a netball team and that epic athletic fails were on the horizon? It turns out I’m a bit of a prophet: it only took three games before I was being helped off the court by an ump, my ankle (and my pride) battered and bruised.

You may be wondering: what the heck is netball, anyway? I’ll tackle that in a future post, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version: netball is basketball without dribbling, backboards, or (much) contact.

Friends and healthcare workers alike have since reassured me that “doing your ankle” in netball is something of an Australian initiation, proof that you’re successfully integrating into local culture.

I must say, my fat ankle and I are feeling mighty patriotic… and a wee bit pathetic.

There are a few lessons to learn from my folly:

First, don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone. I’m the first to fess up to my athletic inabilities, but YOLO, right? Or whatever…

Second, and most importantly: don’t you dare leave home without travel insurance.

I know, I know: what a drag. But the lovely triage nurse at Melbourne’s St. Vincent’s Hospital said it best:

If you don’t have money for insurance, then you probably can’t afford to travel.

Here are three reasons why travel insurance is an essential purchase:

1. You can’t afford not to.

Seriously, you can’t.

We Canadians are spoiled with free healthcare; this means that, for the most part, we have no idea what most medical services actually cost. Had I stubbornly refused travel insurance earlier this year, Tuesday’s “incident” would have cost me a whopping $575.00–$100.00 more than what I spent on a year’s worth of insurance.

I was stunned to learn that most hospitals–in Melbourne, anyway–have an overseas patient admission fee to the tune of AUD$400-$500. Ouch.

HOT TIP: your first call should be to your insurance provider. I don’t mean to undermine 9-1-1 (or triple 0, if you’re an Aussie), but failure to initiate a claim before racking up medical bills may well become a costly mistake. I’m lucky that I decided to skim my policy pamphlet before hobbling (read: piggybacking Ryan) into the clinic, else I would have missed the fine print which clearly states policy holders who don’t make the call are then responsible for 25% of all costsDouble ouch.

2. Peace of mind.

It doesn’t matter if you prefer to live large or play it safe–just make the buy. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard travel insurance bemoaned as a “waste of money,” but unless you’ve voided your policy (and burned your dollars) by providing incorrect information from the get-go, this simply isn’t true.

Think of it this way: if you return home, your body unscathed and your insurance policy untouched, it means you successfully evaded death and illness. This is good, but not guaranteed.

3. It could be a make or break.

Though it could be smoke and mirrors, many immigration departments maintain that failure to produce proof of insurance may result in denial of entry. And you wouldn’t want to travel 37 hours from Saskatoon to Melbourne only to have to turn around and do it again, would you? (No, you wouldn’t.)

Stay alert, stay safe, and share your biggest travel “Oops!” in the comments below.



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