Do You Have to Get Travel Insurance When You Travel?

We NEVER used to buy travel insurance.  Even after we had kids, I thought about buying it pretty much before every trip we took, but had never actually pulled the trigger until recent events changed the way that we all think about illness and travel.

The first time that we traveled after the Covid pandemic changed the world was the first time that we bought travel insurance.  The possibility that we could incur extra expenses due to illness was suddenly real.  I had no idea when we bought the insurance that I would need to use it until I tested positive for Covid in Amsterdam returning from our trip to Finland.

Here is me in Amsterdam with Covid….happy that I had travel insurance!

Travel insurance is the sort of thing that you don’t know that you need until you need it.  You don’t plan to have an illness or an accident.  

We now purchase travel insurance for every trip that we take, and I highly suggest that my travel clients do as well.  If anyone out there is thinking of not purchasing travel insurance, I ask you, what is your back up plan?  Do you have tens of thousands of dollars free to cover your expenses if you are hospitalized?  What about a couple of thousand dollars to cover expenses if you are ill and need to quarantine?

Here are some real stories of what can happen to travelers who don’t have travel insurance: 

Do you have to get travel insurance when you travel?  Do you ever expect to need surgery?
You don’t even anticipate needing emergency surgery when you travel…yet it happens!
  • I just heard about another travel agent’s client who came down with pneumonia while on shore on a cruise.  She was not allowed back on the ship due to the illness, and ended up paying tens of thousands of dollars to get home!
  • A client declined travel insurance, and her husband ended up needing emergency surgery two weeks before their bucket list trip to Hawaii.  They ended up losing $5,800!  Yikes!
  • Friends of one of my fellow travel agents were in Cabo.  The husband had a stroke. It cost them $40,000 to get home.
  • The sister in law of another travel agent in our agency fell and needed stitches in her head. The cost of that was $3,000 out of pocket.
  • Clients son had to have emergency appendix surgery while in St Martin…I have no idea how much it would have cost, but they were SOOOO happy that they had travel insurance!
  • Another travel agent fell off of her bike on a bike trip in Europe. She broke her toe, and it cost her $750 in medical expenses. She wished she had spend the small amount to get travel insurance, because it would have been cheaper.
  • Another travel agent colleague had a client fell getting into the hot tub at the resort who also needed stitches. That one cost $400/stitch.
  • A client’s husband who is a dialysis patient started not feeling well on a cruise. He needed a medical flight back to Florida, and ended up needing another medical flight to get him back home to Texas. She ended up emptying her 401k to pay for all of this, because they did not have travel insurance.
  • Another travel client lost his passport and has to go the the embassy to get a new one. Travel insurance reimbursed him for the extra nights of hotel.
  • Another travel agent friend had clients who were in Germany.  The wife started having dizzy spells.  She went to the hospital and discovered that she had brain cancer.  She was admitted and they did surgery.  She was in the hospital for a week and was reimbursed 100%!
  • I have heard many stories of travel clients who needed medical care when they were at a resort.  These countries don’t have the same rules protecting patients as we have here in the US.  Often, the hospital demands money before they will even treat you!  I commonly hear of travelers needing to come up with $15,000-$30,000 for care in these situations!

So, do you have to get travel insurance when you travel?  No, but I absolutely cannot understand why anyone would choose not to, given my own travel insurance experience and having heard the many stories from other travel agents in my circle. 

None of these people above had any idea that these things would happen to them on vacation (that is the whole purpose of insurance!) 

The cost of travel insurance is RELATIVELY LOW when you consider the cost of your trip!  It is absolutely not worth saving a couple of hundred dollars when the potential risks and costs are so much higher.

I will get off my travel insurance soap box now, but if you are looking for good travel insurance coverage, here is the company that we personally use for our family when we travel (I had great service from them when I needed to file my claim!)


I am a details obsessed travel agent who helps busy families take the overwhelm out of planning epic vacations filled with cherished memories.  

I have been to more than 40 countries (both with kids and without), and I would be honored to help you plan your next epic vacation! Click here to reach out to schedule a time for a free vacation consultation. 

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