Travel insurance is vital when you are on the move, but it’s easy to get ripped off. Here’s how to ensure that you get the best possible value for money.
Don't Forget Your Travel Insurance
There was a time when I thought travel insurance was a waste of money. Every time I took a trip, I found myself forking out more cash to cover the cost of insurance. Did I really need it? After all, I was fit and healthy and didn’t take stupid risks. What could possibly go wrong?
My view on that changed when I fell off a bike during a trip to Europe. I found myself in hospital with a broken leg, breathing a huge sigh of relief that I had booked my travel insurance after all.
Suddenly, the money I had spent on premiums seemed like a very good investment. My insurance company covered all my medical expenses, ambulance costs and incidental outlays without question.
When the time came to return home to the US, I realized I would not be able to fly economy class with my leg in plaster – I would never get into the seat! So the insurance company paid for a first-class ticket from London to Dallas, and I flew home in luxury with my feet up, enjoying being waited on like a rock star.
To pay for all of that out of my own pocket would have cost me many thousands of dollars. That one incident justified all the money I have spent on travel insurance many times over. So if you wondering whether travel insurance is worth the money, I can assure you that it most definitely is. However, you need to be sure to choose the right policy.
Choose the Right Travel Insurance
Selecting a travel insurance policy can be very confusing. You will find yourself confronted with a myriad options and choices to make. You will have to wade through all kinds of technical insurance jargon and terms, and even then you may not be sure what’s right for you. That’s why I have put together this guide…to cut through the nonsense and make it easy to select a good policy. This is what you need to look for:
#1: A Specialist Company
Most insurers offer travel cover, and you may be tempted to go with the company that already deals with your car or home insurance. That might be OK if you are planning a one-week family vacation to Disneyland. But if you are planning a serious backpacking-style trip, then you need specialist cover.
That way, you get the policy you need for backpacking, without paying for cover that is not relevant to you. You don’t want to pay for pediatric care if you don’t have kids, and you don’t want to have a snowboarding accident and find that you are not covered for adventurous sports. Go with a specialist and get a policy that is right for you, at the best possible price.
#2: A High Coverage Limit
Medical care is scarily expensive, and you can’t risk being short of the necessary funding when you need it. In some countries, they will literally leave you bleeding to death in a hospital corridor if you don’t have the means to pay for medical treatment. Ideally, you want around $100,000 of cover for medical expenses, including ancillary costs such as ambulances, etc.
#3: Emergency Evacuation
Imagine you are hiking in the Andes when you somehow slip off a ledge, plunge 20 feet onto the rocks below and break a leg. It may take a whole recovery team to get you onto a stretcher, off the ledge and back to civilization. They may even have to call in a helicopter. You sure as heck don’t want to pay for all of that yourself. So make sure your policy has cover for emergency evacuation and care.
This will also cover you in the event of a natural disaster. Remember the tsunami in Thailand a few years back? If you had been unfortunate enough to be in Phuket at the time, it’s this cover that would have brought you home safe. Look for around $300,000 in cover for this.
#4: Worldwide Coverage
It’s easy to get caught out on this one. Many insurers make their policies cheaper by excluding countries where medical expenses are high. Don’t be tempted to go for a cheap policy that doesn’t cover you wherever you need to go.
#5: 24-Hour Emergency Support
Accidents and illnesses don’t keep office hours. Neither do thieves. You don’t want to have your backpack stolen on Friday evening – complete with all your money and credit cards – only to find that your insurance company won’t even talk to you until Monday morning. Look for a company that provides a phone number for 24-hour support.
#6: Cover for Major Situations
The nature of backpacking may take you to developing countries with unstable politics, and it’s entirely possible that you could find yourself in the middle of a revolution, or even the outbreak of war. Ensure that your policy will get you home safe if this happens.
#7: Personal Accident Cover
Illness is one thing, accident something else altogether – and there are many ways accidents can happen while you are traveling. Make sure that personal accident cover is included in your policy.
#8: Cover for Personal Effects
Phones, laptops and other electronic devices are valuable and can easily become lost or stolen during your travels. Replacing lost passports and baggage is expensive. Make sure you are covered for their replacement.
# 9: Family Emergencies
If a sad event such as bereavement in your family occurs, you will incur extra expenses to make an emergency trip home. You need to be covered for these costs, too.
#10: Third-Party Problems
Airlines go bust, travel operators collapse – all kinds of unexpected events occur. If you find yourself stranded somewhere, your insurance company should help you get home.
My Recommendation for Travel Insurance
So now you know all the facts, and you are free to make your decision. My personal choice is always to book my travel insurance with World Nomads. They have always served me well, and they are also used and recommended by other experienced travel bloggers such as Nomadic Matt.
Here are some reasons why I always book my travel insurance through World Nomads:
- They fully understand and cater for the special needs of serious travelers
- They don't skimp on cover or quibble about paying out when necessary
- Claims and issues are dealt with promptly, so you get all the help you need, when you need it
Another benefit is that you can buy your travel insurance through them any time, even after you have already left home.
Book Your Travel Insurance Today
So don’t play Russian roulette with your insurance cover. This is one area where you really can’t afford to cut corners. Your next trip may be the one where you are in a collision with a tuk-tuk, get a serious case of ‘Delhi belly’ or have to rush home mid-journey to deal with a family crisis. So book your travel insurance now and ensure that you are covered for every eventuality.