SOCIETY OF FEAR
7 August 2009
My dad is a very careful person. He has always makes sure that our insurances are in order and, until I left home, that I remembered to bring the necessary paperwork on my trips abroad.
Last spring he reminded me to check my own Belgian insurances and especially that I would have enough cover in case of burglary, theft or for medical purposes. I almost told him off for being too careful, indeed, I told him that I just checked that my Homeinsurance would cover my theft of my luggage was travelling. Before signing the ING Homeinsurance, I asked the advisor and she claimed that 'yes, it's covered, even if you travel within Belgium, but I don't have the policy document at hand in English. But trust me. You're covered.'
3 months later. My bag disappears on the train. I had my SLR camera, 80 Euro in cash, mobile phone, shoes, wallet, VISA card, keys - of a total value of appr. 1100 Euro. And that excludes the price for exchanging the lock to my flat in the middle of the night.
The next day I ran to the policestation to report the incident, saying that despite being extremely careful, the had been stolen. I said I needed the papers to claim my insurance. They looked at me and said 'well, no insurance would cover this situation'. After having asked about this specifically at the time I got the insurance, I was completely convinced that they were wrong. The next working day I called the insurance company - and, no, I WAS wrong. Indeed. I would have been covered ONLY if I lost my bag under violence, like under gunthreat. Great.
Now. 12 months later, we're planning our summer holiday. Our initial plans were to rent a villa so already in May we paid the deposit by VISA. Circumstances have changed since then and we had to change our plans as well. But no, no - since we cancelled only 6 weeks before, we will lose our deposit, plus that we need to paid an additional 40% to the villa owners. Dah - 220 Euros lost just like that. The owners told us that we would probably get it refunded - in theory yes - in practice - no way! Our VISA does not cover cancellation (not even with medical certificate) and no, we were not clever enough to get a travel insurance 3 months before actually going on our holiday!
Put short. Insurances drive me crazy. It's Murphy's Law. Even if you think you are completely safe and covered, when something happens, it's most likely that you will be informed that you are not. And if you're from a country where the Homeinsurance actually also has travel- and theft insurance included, in your country and abroad for 41 days - it's even more difficult to understand what to do! When I bought by new SLR I got special cover for it: But what we shall do for our holiday next week is still a mystery:
We already have the blue European Health Insurance card which gives us the right to the same medical treatment in another EU countries as their citizens. Fine. But how is the system in Italy? In Belgium you have to pay quite a lot for staying in a hospital and even more for surgery. And for this you need a 'hospitalisation' insurance. So if you were a tourist here, you would need to pay this upfront in the hospital. But if hospitalisation in Italy is free, then so I believe, I would not need a travelinsurance for that. My fiancé has hospitalisation insurance through his employer… but does he really know what it includes? Shall I force him to read the smallprint? Maybe it even covers me?!
Another advantage of a travelinsurance is of course that it protects you in case of theft. But now, since my most valuable item already is covered, should we even consider this as necessary?! And what if our bags get stolen? Not that I have any Chanel dresses, but still - all added up it will be expensive anyway. And what about insurance for the rented car?! Of course we got the excess cover, from a specialised car insurer…
Insurances are like a jungle. A very expensive one. And it's very difficult to get advice - if you have home insurance A you may not need travel insurance B. However if you have home insurance B, you must get travel insurance B. If you rent your car from rental company X, you are not allowed to have an additional driver, wheras your specialised car insurer where you purchased the Excess cover says that the car as a whole is covered, not any specific driver. And don't forget that if you get the car rental company's excess cover which should include 'everything', it may not cover 'everything', it might actually exclude damages made to, surprise, the tyres! And if you pay a trip by VISA you have to make sure you pay x% of the whole amount by card, otherwise you're not covered by their cancellation insurance.
I don't even dare to think about how much you pay in a lifetime to companies which thrive on people's fears.