It can be tempting to take the chance and hope to get away with it to try to save a few dollars. But if a problem does arise, the costs can be crippling.
Hospitalisation costs at good hospitals in Southeast Asia can easily exceed US$800 per day. A medical evacuation from the United States starts at US$75,000 and can reach as high as US$300,000. Even cheaper nearby destinations can prove anything but: the Australian government warns travellers that some medical evacuations from Bali can exceed AUS$60,000. If a trip needs to be cancelled, this can mean thousands in lost deposits.
Even if you're fit and healthy and unlikely to get sick, travel insurance covers more than just medical bills. Many things can go wrong on a trip: flights can be delayed, baggage lost, credit cards stolen, an emergency might mean you have to return early or even not travel at all - most travel insurance policies protect you against these unforeseen circumstances.
Many credit cards include some form of “free” travel insurance, but it's important to remember that the policy only applies if you pay for the trip using the card, and that the benefits are usually not as comprehensive as travel insurance you buy separately, so you should carefully check what your credit card covers.
Remember that when you buy separate insurance there are different plans available to suit most budgets, so it's important to take the time to look at the benefits offered to find the one that's right for you. In particular you should look at:
If you're travelling as a family, then make sure you see what group policies are on offer – a family package tends to work out much cheaper per person than several individual polices for example.
Lastly, remember that travel insurance can help you when you travel close to home, not just for long distances. You may have existing health cover, but it is likely that this may not cover you when you travel overseas – some policies don't even cover you in different parts of the same country - and additional travel insurance protects against cancellations and other mishaps.
You wouldn't travel without packing your toothbrush or passport: proper travel insurance should be viewed as an essential too.