Travel

Find the best travel insurance

Joanna Horanin

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Going away on an adventure is always fun and exciting. When you plan your far-away travels it is hard to think about things like buying travel insurance. Many perceive it as a waste of money and an unnecessary additional cost. This is a big mistake! You really need good insurance. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to buying your policy, this post will help you.

I have been living abroad for 20 years now and during that time I used many insurance companies. I relied on the government services, I used normal travel insurance, travel insurance for digital nomads and expat insurance. I can’t tell you any bad stories, or any particularly good. However, I always shop around for the best option and became quite an expert in the subject.

If you like to travel a lot and you need a good travel insurance, here are some tips on how to find the perfect policy for you!

Why do you need a travel insurance?

Travel insurance comes in handy when you get sick or are involved in an accident abroad. This might not happen to you, but there is always a chance that you will get a bad case of traveller’s diarrhoea and need to see a doctor, or fall off a motorbike somewhere on a Thai road, or break a leg during a hike in Laos. These are all grim scenarios but there’s always a slim chance that it will happen to you, too.

Remember that even if you’re in a country where the medical care is cheap and if you need to stay in a hospital for an extended period of time your bills might grow to significant amounts.

Travel insurance doesn’t only cover you in case of emergencies, but you also have a right to claim compensation when your flight is delayed, or cancelled, or your possessions stolen. In cases when the airline loses your luggage the insurance company will send you money to buy new clothes and other necessities.

Many companies offer 24/7 telephone assistance for their clients, too which is helpful if you need to check where the closest hospital is, or make an urgent claim.

During my travels I had to use my cover a couple of times. In Thailand I had a skin infection that had to be treated with an IV and antibiotics, which would have set me back $200. Multiple times I had stomach problems and had to visit a doctor every time to receive treatment. After a year of teaching in Thailand I decided that I wanted to wait with buying another insurance. I was unlucky that just at that time I was diagnosed with melanoma and had to go through a minor procedure, which cost me almost $500. I learned my lesson and now I don’t travel anywhere without insurance.

Travel insurance – advantages and disadvantages

Advantages:

  • Low cost
  • Cost of treatment is included: you are covered in case of sudden illness
  • Result of sudden illness or accidents: you are covered in case you need to stay in a hospital longer, or you need to be transported to your country of residence.
  • You are covered if you cause an accident.
  • Other things might include: refund of cost of travelling in case your flight is cancelled, or your luggage is lost.

Disadvantages:

  • You can buy your insurance for a whole year, but during this year, you need to be in your country of residence for a certain amount of days.
  • You are not covered in cases of permanent illnesses, like diabetes or heart problems. Sometimes the insurer can cover you, but the cost will be much higher.
  • If you are diagnosed with a serious illness, like cancer, during your travels, you will only be covered for certain, initial check ups and treatments abroad and then you will have to go to your country of residence.
  • If you want to do some sports, like skiing, parachute jumping, surfing, or diving, you need to buy an extra insurance, or extend the basic package.

How to find good travel insurance?

Before I left for my first trip to Asia I used price comparison sites to find good travel insurance. These websites are really useful if you want to have a list of companies that offer the best deals and what they cover on one page. Try Insure My Trip or MoneySupermarket. Don’t choose a company on a whim. Check customer reviews on the internet first before you decide to buy a cover.

Where ever your journey leads: Missed flights, lost phones or sudden illness can easily drain your bank account and ruin your holiday. That’s why I use World Nomads. Get travel insurance

How to choose your travel insurance?

There are plenty of policies online. Which one to choose? Here’s some useful advice to help you out!

Where are you going?

Think of what you would like to include. Are you an adventurous person and want to do some sports that are considered as extreme, like climbing or parachuting? Are you going diving or skiing? Make sure that you’re covered in case accidents while doing any of these activities.

Check the coverage limits and other additional benefits

You should choose a company that has a high coverage limit on medical expenses. Remember that $20,000 is not much. You should aim for at least $100,000, which covers you in case serious accidents. During the last couple of years I used different travel insurance companies and it always depended on my circumstances.

Make sure that emergency evacuation and repatriation are included in the policy. This is not only useful when you have an accident in the middle of nowhere and have to be transported to the nearest hospital, but also when you need care that is not available in the country you are currently visiting.

Always buy insurance that covers lost, stolen or damaged possessions. Some companies offer only $500 back if something happens to your beloved Macbook, or Iphone. I think that’s not enough and would encourage you to look elsewhere.

Mind the excess!

Check how much is the ‘excess’ on the policy. This is the amount of money you need to cover yourself in case of a claim. The higher the excess the lower your policy premium.

Include your preexisting conditions

If you have any preexisting conditions, then you won’t be covered in case of emergencies and hospital visits in relations to those conditions. Some insurance companies offer that, but you need to pay extra.

Check how long you can be away for

Many long term travellers don’t realise that very often insurance companies specify exactly the amount of time you can be outside of your home country to be able to claim. If you are travelling full time and haven’t been home for a year and need to make a claim on your insurance, you might not be able to do so.
Check my post about insurance for digital nomads if you are planning to be away for a long time.

Other things worth including in your policy

  • Stranded traveller insurance: in case the flight company, or your tour operator, goes out of business the insurance company will arrange a replacement travel.
  • Personal liability: cover in case you accidentally cause a physical injury, or death to others or their property.
  • Cancelled, missed or delayed flight cover: you will get some pocket money for food, if you have to wait long. The insurance might also pay for any flights you need to buy in case of cancellations or missed flights.
  • Political unrest and natural disaster evacuation: useful when going to politically unstable countries, or countries where things like earthquakes are common.

During the last couple of years I used a few policies. It was a mixture between normal travel insurance and expat medical insurance. Here are my main recommendations:

SafetyWing

Who is it for?
Digital nomads, so people who work and travel all the time. Please read my post about health travel insurance for digital nomads.

How much does it cost? 
It depends on your age, but the premium starts from $34 per month.

Why is it good?
Because you can buy it anywhere in the world and you don’t need a ticket home. It’s also the cheapest option when it comes to digital nomad travel insurance.

Website: SafetyWing

World Nomads

Who is it for? 
Perfect travel insurance for digital nomads.

How much does it cost? 
This depends on your age, the countries you travel to and the deductible amount. It can be anything from $30 – $100 per month.

Why is it good? 
Because you don’t need to be in your home country to buy it and you don’t need a return ticket home to use it.

Website: World Nomads

American Express

Who is it for? 
For everyone who travels. It’s perfect for single trips. They also sell yearly subscriptions, which is normally cheaper.

How much does it cost? 
Again, this depends on your personal circumstances and the country you want to visit. I paid around $50 for a whole year in 2012.

Why is it good? 
They have a good customer service and they are quite quick with resolving any issues.

Website: American Express Travel 

Revolut

Who is it for? 
For people who travel a lot. You can buy it separately for a year, which will, or you can subscribe to the Revolut’s Metal or Premium to get it in the the price.

How much does it cost? 
It’s around 1 Euro per day.

Why is it good? 
Because it’s cheap and you don’t need to worry about renewing it. The money is taken from you automatically. The Premium and Metal accounts also have additional benefits.

Website: Revolut 

Remember that if you’re an expat, you need a different kind of insurance. Read my post about health insurance for expats in Thailand.

Choosing good travel insurance should be the first thing to think about when planning your holiday in far-away lands. In comparison to international medical insurance, which is more suitable for expats, travel policies are easy to understand and premiums are not high. Buying travel insurance doesn’t require dealing with brokers and spending time on the phone. It is usually an easy and quick process and there are no reasons why you should travel without insurance and risk being left with mountains of medical bills. Don’t safe money on your health, look after yourself and invest in a good cover.

This post includes affiliate links.