Ed: Aug/Sept 2010

Travel is a delight. We spend time devouring pages in magazines like Let’s Travel, collect brochures from travel agents, scour websites and have long discussions with friends. We plan itineraries with the utmost care, ensuring flights and accommodation are in place and, in the main, we know what we’re going to see and do on arrival.

We plan, we anticipate, we budget … but things don’t always go according to plan. We can often be taken by surprise, with unplanned events rumbling the foundations of our best laid plans. Sometimes, the smallest thing can have major consequences, especially if you don’t speak the local language!

A girlfriend and I had jetted off to the magical island of Maui some years back to partake in sun, surf and copious quantities of decadent cocktail mixes for a few days – not a care in the world. Then … mayhem … first came the heavy rains, cooping us up in the hotel bar – not that we complained about that, you understand. If cocktails and spa treatments were to be our lot for the next five days, I’m sure we would have coped admirably!However, the floods were followed not long after by a fairly vicious earthquake. Possessions smashed to the ground, some damaged irreparably – a camera lens shattered, the laptop refused to power up, bottles had upended their contents. I had been in the over-bath shower at the time and slipped, jarring my back. Adrenalin pumping due to the quake, it was only about an hour later than I felt any pain. By the next morning, however, I was in agony and could hardly move. The hotel doctor had a look, diagnosed a torn ligament and sciatica, gave me a shot, and sent me away with a prescription for painkillers and anti-inflammatories. Net result – a doctor’s bill of nearly $300US (for little more than ten minutes!) and a pharmacy receipt for close to $120US.

Back in Auckland, the quotes came in for the camera and laptop – throw them away, I was told. I thanked my lucky stars for travel insurance. All up, had I not been covered, I’d have been out of pocket by a cool $5,500NZ – but all it had cost me was a couple of hundred.

It doesn’t have to take something as major as an earthquake to ruin good holiday memories. Theft, loss and damage can occur anywhere, at any time. You’re on holiday, for goodness sake – you’re going to be more relaxed and less attentive! Even business travellers can be victims. A colleague, who shall remain nameless, recently suffered the loss of a very new Notebook. Tired after a long but successful trip, he popped the Notebook into the seat pocket on the plane, indulged in a wine over dinner and then took a brief nap. On disembarking, he completely forgot about the Notebook. To date, lost and found have still not found it. Unfortunately, on this short trip, he’d deemed travel insurance as unnecessary. Cost? $1700NZ replacement of the Notebook.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had to purchase a spare change of clothes and extra toiletries when a bag has gone walkabout. Things can and do go wrong – it’s how prepared you are for those eventualities that can make the difference between a nightmare or shrugging your shoulders and letting the insurance company deal with it.

So, do make sure you’re adequately covered – for loss, damaged and theft, injuries or other health scares. If you’re a Platinum credit card holder and pay for your air travel using your card, travel insurance is usually an automatic benefit. If not, pay the little bit extra – it really will pay for itself if you do need it – and it’s peace of mind, even if you don’t!

Safe travels
Gayle Dickson
Managing Editor

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