Many travelers dismiss travel insurance as an unnecessary expense and waste of money. They couldn’t be more wrong.
Insurance is not a luxury item, it is essential even for a one-week trip and especially so for active travelers who engage in extreme sports or visit unusual destinations.
Trust me, I’ve learned from experience that travel insurance can be a life-saver. Whether you fall sick on a trip, get into an accident or lose your baggage, having travel insurance will help minimize your financial losses and give you a peace of mind.
Why Do You Need Travel Insurance?
After more than 10 years of constant travel, I’ve had my fair share of incidents and predicaments and I’ve also seen and heard lots of other travelers’ stories and their unfortunate mishaps. If you ask me whether you should buy travel insurance, it’s always a resounding yes!
Travel can bring with it certain risks and inconveniences that you just can’t avoid at times. Flight delays, loss of baggage and unpredictable flight cancellations — these are just common nuances of travel. Travel insurance makes sure you get compensated for your time and money.
But what if you face something more serious than losing your luggage or missing your flight?
What if you contract a disease while traveling? Or get robbed at gun point? Or get stuck in a natural disaster? Or suffer from altitude sickness and need medical evacuation?
These things can happen and have happened to several of my friends. Without travel insurance, you may have to fork out thousands of dollars or even more to get yourself out of the scenario.
READ MORE: How I Saved $12,000 for Travel in 1 Year
My Own Experiences and Examples from Friends
I’ve seen a friend get appendicitis in Miami, ending up with a $10,000 hospital bill (because she wasn’t covered by travel insurance) that she just couldn’t pay for. She ended up fleeing the country, and now 10 years later, she’s still afraid of returning in case she gets thrown into prison.
Another friend of mine got into a motorbike accident in Bali and broke her leg, and because she didn’t have travel insurance she had to spend thousands on hospital bills and couldn’t get any justice from the driver who hit her.
Alberto and I had our DSLR camera stolen from us on a bus in Thailand — but thankfully we called our travel insurance provider, made a claim almost immediately, and received compensation within a month. With the $1000 that we were compensated with, we could buy a new camera that had even better features.
I’m thankful that we haven’t had any serious accidents or health problems while traveling, but we can’t imagine that happening and not having safety backup.
What Kind of Insurance Suits You?
The type of travel insurance you buy depends on many factors and it’s subjective to the type of activities you do, how long you’re traveling, etc.
Here are some questions you should ask yourself first:
How often do you travel and how long are your trips?
If you travel more than three times a year, or are traveling for a year or more, you can save money by purchasing an annual travel insurance to cover all your trips on one policy.
Are you traveling independently or with a tour operator?
If you are traveling on a tour, ask the operator you are traveling with if they offer travel insurance; some of them offer policies that automatically cover all activities undertaken on your trip.
What type of activities do you usually do on your trips — outdoor adventures or cultural museums visits?
Keep in mind that most travel insurance policies do not cover outdoor activities such as biking, trekking, horse riding, or sailing. It is wise to find an activity insurance that will cover not only general travel-related incidents, but also the activities you will be participating in on the trip.
Do you travel with a lot of expensive gear and equipment?
Most travel insurance policies don’t cover valuables (or have a low limit), so you might need a separate policy to cover your cameras or other expensive gear for accidental damage and theft.
How is your health condition — any pre-existing illness?
How much you pay for the insurance plan depends on your health condition. Check to see if your regular health insurance plan covers you overseas. Sometimes you can top it up with some extra premium and get yourself covered for your trip too.
Tips on Buying the Best Travel Insurance
Before you decide on a particular travel insurance plan, consider these factors:
• Check if the policy covers your destination.
• Ask if the policy covers your interest (be it biking or trekking) as a primary activity. Many travel policies only cover cycling as an incidental activity, not a primary one.
• Find out what the excess of the policy is. This is the amount of money you need to pay for each claim. It may be worthwhile paying a higher premium for a policy with smaller excesses.
• Check the coverage limits. Most policies have a ceiling on the value of items to be insured, especially big-ticket items like cameras and laptops.
• Find out what documentation you need to supply to file a claim.
• Be honest about any pre-existing medical conditions you may have. Lying about your health conditions may give the insurance company the right to deny your claim.
• Some credit card companies provide limited travel insurance if you purchase your flight with their card. Ask your credit card company what it covers.
• Find out if the insurance company will provide any medical or emergency assistance on the road and if so, what information you will need when seeking assistance.
• Find out if you can renew the policy while on the road.
• Always check the fine print so you will be aware of every exclusion clause the policy may have.
When buying insurance, make sure they cover these items:
• Medical treatment, hospital transportation, and repatriation if you fall ill or injure yourself.
• Monetary compensation for trip cancellation in the event of an emergency.
• Coverage for loss or theft of valuables, documents, money, and baggage, and repatriation of remains in the case of fatal incidents.
Best Travel Insurance Providers
Once you’ve decided what type of travel insurance you want to go for, I would suggest comparing travel insurance quotes to help reduce costs on your next trip. There are several insurance comparison sites out there that compares prices, excess, cancellation and baggage compensations. I like using this one to compare coverage from 54 different insurance brands.
I personally have an annual travel insurance policy with Travel Guard. For my profile and nationality (Singaporean), they offer the best value and cover worldwide destinations. I’ve made a claim before (for loss of my camera) and the compensation was great and the whole process was fast and easy. I have the basic plan, which has coverage for trip cancellation, reimbursement for lost baggage and gear, and up to $500,000 for emergency evacuation.
If you’re an active traveler, it might be wise to opt for their Adventure Travel Protection Plan, which covers trekking at high altitudes and other high risk activities. If you do some research online, you’ll find that it’s one of the most highly recommended policies.
I find their site very user friendly and easy to understand, and their customer service excellent (when you’re making a claim, you really need someone to be helpful and kind).
>>> Go to Travel Guard to get a quote.
World Nomads Travel Insurance are a well respected company that allow you to buy a policy when you are already traveling. Their policies are comprehensive and include baggage and cancellation. Many of my full-time traveler friends use World Nomads and highly recommend them.
They cover most nationalities so if you aren’t from the US or Europe, this is the policy I would suggest you opt for.
The reason I don’t use them is that they are more expensive than Travel Guard, but the World Nomads policy is more comprehensive and has a wider coverage.
>>> Go to World Nomads to get a quote.
Most travel insurance policies don’t cover valuables (or have a low limit), so it’s wise to get a separate policy if you’re traveling with specialized gear.
Clements is a great option for covering your electronics and cameras for accidental damage and theft. The cost depends on the value of your items. I’ve heard that the premium for a property insurance with Clements is quite cheap and it’s well worth it if you’ve got gear that cost more than $5,000.
It’s highly recommended by my full-time traveler friends. I don’t used this as my Travel Guard insurance plan covers loss of gear as well.
If you intend to buy a property insurance, be sure to save copies and keep originals of all your gear purchase and receipts. Keep a record of serial numbers, policy numbers, and insurance contact information and file a police report immediately after any theft or accident.
>>> Go to Clements to get a quote.
Specialists in Activity Insurance
As I mentioned earlier, most travel insurance policies do not cover outdoor activities such as biking, trekking, horse riding, or sailing. It is wise to find an activity insurance that will cover the activities you will be participating in on the trip.
If you do a particular sport/activity regularly or if you’re going on an activity-centric trip (like a bike tour or trekking trip), you should get activity insurance that covers your interest (be it biking or trekking) as a primary activity. Many travel policies only cover cycling as an incidental activity, not a primary one.
Here’s a short list of specialists in activity insurance:
Have you decided which travel insurance policy is right for you? If you’ve found this article useful, please let us know in the comments field below!
Book Your Travel Insurance Now!
Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links which means we receive a small commission if you buy policies through these links, AT NO ADDITIONAL COST FOR YOU. Thanks for your support.