Getaway Day: The Slippery Slope Of Not Buying Travel Insurance

Surely one of these slopes is slippery. (Photo credit: Rosan Harmens via Unsplash.)

This is a time when people are obsessed with domino effects – and we’re not talking pizza – and conspiracy theories, so here’s one more for you to chew on: How about the domino effect of not buying travel insurance?

You can call it a house of cards, a slippery slope, whatever metaphor works for you this Friday morning. However you choose to characterize it, one thing remains constant, and that’s that not buying travel insurance can trigger a whole litany of unpleasantness.

Here’s an illustration. Let’s take a typical traveler, only there is no such thing as a typical traveler, so let’s just take a traveler and call him George – you know, like in the Tex Avery cartoons, or Bringing Up Baby.

George, like a lot of smart(ish) travelers, wants to go to Europe in mid-November, when the crowds are diminished and the prices are cheap. Good George.

George is a DIY sort of person, which you’d realize if you ever went over to his place. Nice coffee table, George. You make that yourself? Out of toilet-paper rolls? For real? But what’s that you say? I shouldn’t lean on – oops. Don’t worry, George. Soon you’ll have enough rolls for another one.

Anyhow, George booked his flights himself, and grabbed some nice alternative lodgings, like the packing box in the middle of a Berlin strasse. And when it came to travel insurance, he declined the insurance offered by the airline and the alternative lodgings never offered him any. No biggie, right?

After having a little tête-à-tête with the passport agency involving his insistence on submitting a passport photo of him and his dog in front of their favorite tree, George is ready to go. It’s departure time, and he has everything he needs for the trip of a lifetime in Europe – minus that travel insurance.

Travel insurance? Who needs that stuff? George gets to the airport way ahead of time (and smart George – he signed up for Global Entry, which includes TSA PreCheck) with his luggage clearly labeled and his liquids in approved containers. He boards his first flight, which has a generous hour-and-a half connection to his international flight, and waits for the thrill of takeoff. And waits … and waits … and waits. Gee, waiting is hard, isn’t it, George? Especially when that leisurely hour-and-a-half connecting time has shrunk to 15 minutes.

No matter, George thinks. Surely they’ll hold the next flight for me.

You bet, George. And unicorns poop soft-serve.

Change in plans? No problemo. Twelve hours in an airport isn’t long when you have a good book or two. You do have a good book or two, don’t you, George? Oh, you left them home. Thought you’d fill up on the local culture instead, huh? Well, George, I’ve got news for you: There’s no local culture in an airport. None.

Not to worry, George tells himself; just a minor inconvenience. That’s right, George; keep the ol’ eye on the prize. Because dreams do come true: George does board a different flight to Europe. And all goes well there, outside of that nasty little loss of feeling from the waist down resulting from a foot being placed squarely at the base of his spine for eight hours.

Staggering off of the plane while popping a few joints back into position, George sees what he’s always dreamed of: A different airport, one with signs in a language he can’t understand.

You got this, George; just follow the crowds, pick up your bags and pass through customs. Show them your passport and you’ll be free.

Sure thing, George says. My passport is right here … somewhere … I know it is … just give me a second … it’s in this pocket for sure … but it’s not. And George, being George, scarcely knows what country he’s in, much less how to contact the embassy.

It’s okay, George. Go sit over there on that nice hard chair and read this country’s version of the Weekly World News. Someone will be with you shortly.

Well, that didn’t take long. Twelve hours isn’t a whole day. And that spotlight with the bare 300-watt bulb wasn’t nearly as bright as you thought it was going to be.

Now that that’s out of the way it’s on to the first memorable alternative lodging – well, the second, actually. The first is just a fleeting memory. Oh, but the second is in a different country – and too bad: Your train left 15 minutes ago.

You’re good, though: You’ve always wanted to walk the streets all night in a foreign country. In the rain. Just watch out for those slippery cobblestones and – there you go. You’ve broken your ankle. And the word the doctor said when he first saw you sounded an awful lot like “amputate.”

We could go on, but you get the idea. If we’ve never been George ourselves, we’ve traveled with someone who’s an awful lot like George. And all it takes is one “George moment,” especially when you have travel insurance and it saves the day, to convince you of its value.

We see it all the time; the greatest proponents of travel insurance are those who have had to use it, and when they used it it did exactly what it’s supposed to. And when the help is fast and efficient and the payment is nearly instantaneous, as it is with Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, it’s even better.

The moral of this story is: Don’t be George. Stay off the slippery slope. Get travel insurance and let it work for you. And please, please, please build your next coffee table out of wood.

Author: Kit Kiefer

As content engineer for Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection, I have one of the world's great jobs. Not only do I get to write about travel, but I get to edit the work of fantastically talented contributors from around the world. Plus I get all the maple syrup I can drink.