Written by Celece Seegmiller for The Spectrum on August 14, 2016
A few weeks ago, I wrote about my wonderful British Open Cruise. It was a cruise to remember in more ways than one. What I neglected to share was my experience on my return flight home and an unexpected souvenir that will last for the rest of my life. I decided to save that topic for this week and include it in my annual “reasons to buy travel insurance” column.
It all started with a 1.5 hour delayed flight from London to Chicago. Although I scheduled plenty of connection time in Chicago, we arrived with less than one hour to go through customs, change terminals, go through security again, and make our way to the gate. Since we had Global Entry (and pre-check), I was not too worried when we landed. We sailed through customs in no time, checked our bags, and boarded the tram from terminal five to terminal one. While it seemed to take forever to get to terminal one, I was confident we would make our flight with pre-check. When we arrived, the security line looked like the lines at Disneyland during peak season. I could not locate the line for pre-check and when I asked where it was, I was rudely informed that it was closed and to get in line with everyone else.
After becoming very frustrated, I finally found a nice lady and explained our flight was boarding. She took us around to another line, but it still had quite a wait. By the time we cleared security, they were calling for last boarding for our flight. At that point, we had no other choice but to run. Fortunately, I was wearing my sensible rubber-soled flat shoes and I was prepared to sprint down the long hallway and up the escalator to our gate. We got on the people-mover, hoping to make up some time, still running. We were near the end when I tripped on my carry-on and I fell face-down on the walkway. Once Rob helped me up, I could see blood gushing from my hand and feel it through my jeans on my knees. My only goal was to get to the gate and try to board the plane. We were the last to board before they closed the door.
Once on the plane, the sweet flight attendants took a look at my wrist and started a mini-triage unit. The pilot came out and notified me he would not clear us to fly without the paramedics looking at me first. He made the announcement about a medical issue and being delayed for take-off. Suddenly, I was that embarrassing person holding up the plane. Paramedics showed up with sirens blaring and informed me I needed stitches. They cleared me to fly if I promised to go straight to the emergency room when we landed in Las Vegas. They wrapped me up and sent me on what felt like “the walk of shame back” to my seat. It was the longest 3.5 hours of my life. The caring flight attendants kept checking on me and even gave me a pair of wings on my way out as we dashed for the hospital. To make a long story short, I ended up with six stiches in my hand, cuts and bruises everywhere, a tetanus shot, and bruised ribs. I had been up for 33 hours straight by the time we arrived back to our room in Las Vegas.
I am very lucky that I did not break anything or fall straight on my face. I know this is just a small incident compared to many, but accidents can happen before, during, or even on your way home from a vacation. Thanks to my travel insurance, I am covered for all of my medical expenses and the extra night in Las Vegas. It was comforting to know that I had someone to call if I had to stay in Chicago and they would have found the closest hospital, assisted with a hotel, a return flight, and anything else I needed. They even called me the next day to see how I was doing and if I needed any help getting back to St. George.
This year several clients have had some very unfortunate accidents occur on their trips and they were all grateful for their travel insurance policies. To demonstrate the importance of purchasing travel insurance, and emergency travel services, here are 10 common examples of what could go wrong, courtesy of AIG Travel Guard:
1. It’s 10 p.m. and you and your immediate family arrive at the airport for a connecting flight, only to find that your flight has been cancelled. Who can assist you with finding new flights to get everyone home?
2. Your bag was lost with your insulin inside. You need help to locate your bag as soon as possible and have your emergency prescription filled. Who do you call?
3. Your first visit to Europe, and your passport and wallet are stolen. Where do you turn for assistance in obtaining emergency cash, and how will you get your passport replaced?
4. You’re involved in an accident and adequate medical treatment is not available. Who will help coordinate a medical evacuation?
5. If your sister-in-law becomes seriously ill and you must cancel your trip, what happens to your non-refundable deposits or pre-payments?
6. You arrive in Jamaica and your luggage doesn’t. If it’s lost, who will help you find it? If it’s delayed who will reimburse you for covered necessities? If it’s stolen, who will reimburse you for its contents?
7. Your cruiseline, airline or tour operator goes bankrupt. Who will pay for your non-refundable expenses? Who is able to assist in getting you to your destination?
8. You’re walking down a street in Rio and twist your ankle. Who is able to assist you in finding an English-speaking physician?
9. Three weeks before your scheduled arrival, a terrorist incident occurs in the city to which you are planning to visit. Who will reimburse you if you want to cancel your trip?
10. You are at a beach resort in North Carolina, and you are forced to evacuate due to a hurricane which has made your resort uninhabitable. Who can assist you in being evacuated? Who will reimburse you for your lost vacation investment
I could add to this list with several other scenarios. No matter where or how you go, expect the unexpected and consider travel insurance. I am very grateful I did.