Why I Will Always Buy Travel Insurance

Unfortunately, I am kind of a Debbie Downer when it comes to the what-ifs in life. I always think of the worst-case scenario. When we were planning our trip to Sicily, I knew for sure that I wanted to purchase trip protection/travel insurance. It crossed my mind that something bad could possibly happen during our trip, but the main reason I purchased it was for the trip cancellation benefit. Our health insurance covers accidents abroad, so I didn't need the medical coverage, but if for some reason something bad happened to one of us before our trip, I wanted to be able to cancel the trip without feeling too much of a blow to our pocketbook. 

Although nothing terrible happened prior to our trip (I briefly thought about cancelling the trip because just a few weeks before we left, I found out I was expecting, and with the way morning sickness was going, I was none too thrilled about traveling during the tail end of my first trimester), on the eighth day of our trip, something very, very bad happened. My mother-in-law suffered a brain hemorrhage. Only a couple of hours after arriving at our accommodations, she sat down and explained that she could no longer feel the right side of her body. With my limited Italian, I managed to ask the proprietor at our farm stay to call an ambulance. As we were waiting in our room, my mother-in-law's speech began to dwindle. We did our best to stay calm, but Isaiah and I just kept looking at each other in disbelief, Was this really happening?

Once the ambulance arrived (at least 20 minutes after calling), we realized it was a bit like a mini-hospital on wheels. The doctor on board asked some questions, and I answered to the best of my knowledge and ability. They took my MIL away, and we were left waiting to find out where they were taking her. Upon her arrival at the hospital (nearly an hour away from where we were staying), they scanned her brain and found two tumors, one of which had ruptured. The next four days were surreal. Hunter and I stayed back at the farm stay (and eventually hotel) while Isaiah cared for his mother at the hospital. Our dream vacation was over, and Hunter and I were just waiting for our return flight back to San Diego. Isaiah would stay another two-and-a-half weeks until his mother was released.

So that's the background of the story. Here's why I will always buy travel insurance: trip interruption coverage. Although our health insurance covers medical emergencies abroad, it doesn't cover the extra expenses incurred if you have to stay past your trip dates to accompany family members in the hospital: car rental, food, hotel. When all was said and done, in order for Isaiah to stay behind, we had to pay about $2,600 out of pocket for those extra expenses that were not part of our original vacation budget. Thankfully, our insurance benefit for trip interruption included up to $200/day for food, transportation, and lodging for anyone staying behind as a "non-medical escort." On top of that, we had no idea that my MIL's medical insurance doesn't cover accidents abroad, so her expenses at the hospital in Sicily were covered by the insurance policy I had purchased for her (a benefit of up to $15,000). Furthermore, even after 3 weeks in the hospital, my MIL remained paralyzed on her right side, so there was no way to she could fly back on a regular flight. She and Isaiah flew back to the U.S. by air ambulance, covered by our policy's "emergency evacuation" benefit (up to $150,000).

I am still waiting for some information from American Airlines (worst Customer Service ever, btw) before I file a claim to get those $2.600 reimbursed, so I will have to update this post later to let you know how that process went. Claims can be filed online, and the process seems pretty straight-forward, but I am sure it will be a while before we see that money. Also, just FYI, I am not going to give our insurance company rave reviews. They contracted out to another company to organize the air ambulance transfer, and the communication between doctors, companies, and patient was terrible. But they got the job done, and that is all that really matters, right? I think any travel insurance company will do, but if you'd like to know the name of the company we used, just send me an email. I like the kind of company that allows you to build or personalize your own policy, especially since the ones that Orbitz or Expedia offer are often more expensive and have benefits that are unnecessary since many credit card companies offer certain travel benefits for free just for using their card to purchase the airline tickets. If you're wondering about cost, I purchased 4 policies for around $200. Money well spent, don't you think?

I think now, after this ordeal, the odds are probably in our favor. It's probably very unlikely that something bad will happen to us on a trip ever again. But the Debbie Downer in me won't be taking any chances. The next time we travel abroad (which won't be for a very, very, very long time), we will buy trip protection/travel insurance. Yes, most definitely so.

UPDATE 9/26/15: After almost two months to process our claim (submitted online 7/24/15; checks received 9/26/15), we got reimbursed for all of our trip interruption expenses (except for one $70 airbnb night we had to cancel)!!! I am so glad we purchased our policies because, despite many headaches, in the end it all worked out. My MIL got to see Sicily, her health is improving, and we got back $2600 in claims (plus American Airlines ended up reimbursing us for unused portions of our reservations).


  1. oh my!!! i am so sorry to hear about your mother in law...thank goodness for travel insurance!!! we buy it as well, but next time i will definitely take a closer look as to what it all covers thanks to you!
    i hope things are better now?
    sending well wishes!

    ***on a happier note...i had no idea you were expecting!!!! how did i miss that??? so excited for you!!! BIG hugs!!!

    1. Yes, Sabine, things are getting a bit better. My MIL is on a long road to recovery, but she's in good hands. As for the baby coming soon, I sneaked an announcement into a Mother's Day post a while back... hehe! ;)


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