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!
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.
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.
How to choose your travel insurance?
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.
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. I went with World Nomads as they offer coverage of $2,000,000 on medical expenses. I doubt that I can ever use it, but I feel better knowing that my insurance can cover me for nearly anything.
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. World Nomads cover almost 4000 GBP of lost, stolen or damaged goods. There are not many companies on the market that can match that.
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.
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.
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. That’s why World Nomads comes in handy. It covers you for the whole year and you don’t need to visit home in order to be covered.
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.
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.
If you like my blog and would like to support me, please consider buying insurance from World Nomads. I will be able to earn a small commission thanks to you.