I’ve been traveling out of the country quite a bit lately. When you leave the country for any amount of time, you should be prepared to buy travel insurance. It’s easily one of the golden rules of travel. One of the things I picked up as I grew up as the child of a travel agent. As an example of terribly wrong a trip can go, look at the story of a Canadian man who went to Thailand without travel insurance. It’s unbelievable that he didn’t even think once about getting insurance when going to a place like Thailand.

Anyways, because I’m a diligent traveler, I’ve bought travel insurance every time I’ve left the country. For my last four or five trips, I’ve used the same online travel insurance provider. You go their site, fill out the details about yourself and your trip, pay and you’re basically done. Once you pay, they e-mail you two sets of documents. The first e-mail contains the receipt while the second e-mail contains the actual terms and conditions of the insurance. This message is the one I print out the card that contains all the info you or someone needs to know should you require medical attention outside of Canada.

For every trip up until my London trip, I’ve been printing out that card and then just going on my trip. For my London trip, I read the contents of the second message much more carefully. I believe since I was going to Europe, I really wanted to be sure of my coverage and the terms. Well, it turns out that there is actually a form in the attachments that I was supposed to digitally sign and e-mail back to the insurance provider. According to them, the coverage would not be fully in place until I had signed and returned the form. I did so for my London insurance and got the confirmation that my travel coverage was in effect. I had neglected to do that for any of my last two trips to San Diego nor my Hawaii trip.

Had anything gone wrong on those vacations, my insurance provider could have probably legally argued that I had not fulfilled my obligations by not signing that last document. I essentially was perhaps even dumber than the man I mentioned above. I paid a company for insurance, yet did not do my due diligence to ensure that coverage was in effect from a legal standpoint. Scary to think about now but I’m obviously relieved nothing happened.

Leave nothing to chance when you travel. Read all the documents that you’re given.

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