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to think travel insurance is a basic necessity for big trips and not some sort of fringe product aimed at naive/anxious fools easily parted from their cash?

28 replies

DirtyMartini · 24/05/2011 22:45

My dad is visiting from the USA. Ash cloud will hopefully not affect his return, as he's staying until Sunday, but I asked today if he had travel insurance and he said no, and seemed very Hmm at my surprise and my suggestion that this was unwise.

Further discussion revealed that in all his 30+ trips across the Atlantic over the decades, not to mention all his domestic US travel, he has never had travel insurance, on the basis that "they have to rebook you" if something goes wrong. He also claimed that NOBODY he knows in America uses travel insurance now or has EVER used it (Me: "But how can you be sure?" Dad: "Well, they would have mentioned it") and that the money he's saved over the years will offset the cost of an extra two nights in a hotel somewhere if he ever gets caught out Hmm Hmm (yes I'm over-using the eye roll emoticon but seriously, wtf?) And he said he was "confident that Continental will reimburse him" if he got seriously out of pocket as a result of ash cloud delays.

I asked about what would happen if he got seriously ill while travelling or something & he avoided the question. Later he acknowledged I made "a convincing case", but then started talking about the mis-selling of payment protection insurance as reported in recent news, implying that travel insurance is similarly dodgy/fraudulent by its nature.

Is he right -- do people in America really not use travel insurance? Is it a cultural difference to do with their customer service etc being better in the first place? If so maybe I am BU. Or is he being irresponsible and a bit arrogant, as is my instinctive reaction?

He is a moderately well-travelled American, btw, not someone who has stayed put all his life & might be expected to have narrow views on this stuff.

OP posts:

QOD · 24/05/2011 22:49

Blimey - I have a lot of American friends - interestingly, the majority have never travelled outside the States! Most don't even have passports- so maybe that's part of it? They go to Florida for sun, etc - I will ask on your behalf!

Just fyi - I had a week in hospital and surgery in Cyprus in 2005 - cos about £20 000 - the airline also won't re book him if he misses a flight for illness or stupidity!


trixymalixy · 24/05/2011 22:50

Don't know about americans but i would never travel without insurance. A friend of mine went to greece on a lad's holiday, came off a moped and it cost his parents £10k to fly him home. Travel insurance is £25 for a family, it's a no brainer.


TrillianAstra · 24/05/2011 22:52

Oh but it's gambling you know, it's immoral.


DirtyMartini · 24/05/2011 22:57

I'd never dream of travelling without it either, but if this is a genuine cultural difference of priorities, I'm prepared to stop busting his balls about it. Otherwise I will continue to make catsbummouth faces when the topic arises.

Surely not having insurance is more of a gamble than having it? Dad sees it as a gamble that's paid off so far, saving him xxx dollars since 1973 or whatever...

OP posts:

DirtyMartini · 24/05/2011 22:58

(sorry Trill, maybe I've misunderstood. Am too tired to grasp wit)

OP posts:

squeakytoy · 24/05/2011 23:01

Interesting. I have an american friend coming over for a month in a couple of weeks. I will ask her if she has got insurance. She is fairly anal about being prepared (she exchanged her money and started packing last month!) so I cant see her taking a risk, but oddly enough, she hasnt mentioned it at all.


TrillianAstra · 24/05/2011 23:02

I was making a joke.

In the Simpsons Ned Flanders didn't have house insurance because having insurance is gambling.

Not having it is "taking a gamble" as in taking a risk, but having insurance is actually gambling - you are giving someone money on the understanding that if an unpredictable-quite-unlikely thing happens they will give you back more money. If the thing doesn't happen then they keep the money. It's gambling.


A1980 · 24/05/2011 23:03

That's weird. I took a risk without it on a couple of two day city breaks when I was younger but I wouldn't do without it now.

Especially as my holidays generally involve alot of activities. I can't afford medical treatment or a flight home if I come unstuck.


DirtyMartini · 24/05/2011 23:04

re gambling

OP posts:

AyeRobot · 24/05/2011 23:08

It depends where you are travelling to and from and whether your medical bills get picked up by your existing insurance/NHS/EHIC. A friend of mine had a heart attack (in his 20s) in a South American country and his medical bills came to just under a million dollars, including flying him home with a nurse etc. I've had medical treatment in Europe at litle cost, which I claimed back from the NHS.

I think it's daft not to get some for the medical cover alone. It costs next to nothing.


Blu · 24/05/2011 23:10

In terms of the risk and costs of flight delays, cancellations etc, it may well even out over the years and not necessarily be the best use of money to buy insurance.

But the medical costs of even a minor accident should make insurance a no-brainer! And if he pays to insure expensive camera gear while he is at home, why wouldn't he alsowant it insured when travelling?

I have stood in the queue at X Ray at our local big hospital and seen them add up the bill for tourists.....


TrillianAstra · 24/05/2011 23:12

Exactly AyeRobot, it's not just medical bills that need to be picked up, if your friend had been in Europe and covered by E111 he'd still have needed to pay for the medical escort home.


QOD · 24/05/2011 23:12

Here is one answer

"It's usually included when we book a cottage in North Carolina. You can choose to opt out but we don't since hurricanes are always a possibility. But we haven't ever taken it out for any other trip we've taken. In or out of the states. It's just not a thought."

ain't that interesting? The only answer so far -and just like your daddy!


AyeRobot · 24/05/2011 23:18

Quite, although that was a teeny part of his eye-watering bill. Luckily his insurance covered everything bar the £100 excess. Best £125 or whatever he spent on buying his policy.

I always go for the policy with the highest medical cover (and fewest exclusions) for a not outrageous premium after what happened to him. Losing my camera and having a high excess pales into insignificance compared to what it might cost.


alexandriana · 24/05/2011 23:21

The biggie that travel insurance covers is repatriation if you are seriously ill. But if you dont mind being stuck in a foreign hospital for weeks then you could risk going without.

When I've had problems with baggage/flights the insurance co. made it so awkward to claim that I didn't bother so it was a waste of money.


MadamDeathstare · 25/05/2011 00:12

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blu · 25/05/2011 13:51

Alexandriana - until you get the bill for the several weeks in a foreign hospital, including all tests, drugs, dressings, operations and food!


DiscoDaisy · 25/05/2011 13:56

When getting travel insurance it is wise to make sure that repatriation is included.
Some companies don't include it as norm.


PurveyorOfBaloney · 25/05/2011 13:57

Lots of US credit cards offer travel (and car hire etc) insurance as part of their package. Also large US companies have staff travel insurance policies - maybe many Americans use those rather than purchasing something else specific?

Given the US reliance on private health insurance you'd think it was something they would be most aware of.


Tee2072 · 25/05/2011 14:00

The only person in the US that I know uses travel insurance is my mother and that's only because she gets it for free through her stock broker.

It is very unusual for Americans to have it because if they have health insurance, there is usually a provision in it for overseas care and most don't worry about missed/cancelled flights etc.


lesley33 · 25/05/2011 14:01

I don't think travel insurance is a necessity for possessions, but for medical insurance absolutely. My parents in the north of England though don't take out travel insurance. A few years ago they lost the cost of a holiday because my dad was taken seriously ill about a week before they were due to travel, but at least he wasn't taken ill abroad!


CMOTdibbler · 25/05/2011 14:03

Biggest claim DH ever saw (he works in claims) was someone who was in a motor accident in the US, spent weeks in intensive care there, they flew his family out there, paid for accomodation etc, then flew him back on air ambulance with a full medical team to hospital here. Ran over a million pounds.

You can't afford not to have travel insurance imo


lesley33 · 25/05/2011 14:03

Madamdeathstare - Quite a few people don't have home contents insurance here. However if someone is a home owner they will nearly always have home building insurance - and if they have a mortgage having this insurance is normally a condition of the mortgage.


twolittlemonkeys · 25/05/2011 14:05

YANBU. I always take it out. DH's parents did a lot of travelling and almost didn't bother taking out insurance for a trip they made to USA in 2004. They took some out at the last minute and FIL was very glad they did as MIL fell ill there and got a lot worse on the plane back so they had to do an emergency landing but she died before they reached the hospital. Had they not had insurance it would have cost £££££ for the repatriation of her body and all the other costs etc. It's just not worth the risk IMO. If you can afford the holiday, you can afford a few pounds for insurance


Amateurish · 25/05/2011 14:11

Travel to US - I definitely would take insurance.

Travel to Western Europe - probably not.

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