Travel insurance is a subject most people don’t really like talking about. And it’s completely understandable. Some companies make it sound very convoluted, and some of them are quite expensive. Most people think it’s just another added cost that may or may not break their budget that they’re trying really hard to minimise. Every cent counts when it comes to budgeting for travels. However, is saving a couple of dollars worth it in comparison to having peace of mind? Here, I will try to answer the age-old question: Should I buy travel insurance?
Travel is fun. Adventures in the jungle are fun. Until of course, you contract malaria from an infected mosquito and starts feeling sick but don’t have the fund needed to pay for hospital fees. Okay, maybe I am being a bit dramatic, you most likely won’t contract malaria. There’s a really low chance. You just happened to get into a motorcycle crash in Thailand with that tuk-tuk who isn’t driving carefully. My point is, Travel is not all fun and games, and serious things can happen while you’re abroad. That’s why it’s a good idea to have travel insurance. Think of it as a security blanket, a peace of mind so that you can do what you love doing —exploring the country to your heart’s content.
Simple Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can be really simple, and budget friendly for those who research and understand all the options available. Here, I will break it down for you. Since my focus is on Southeast Asia, I am talking about international travel insurance but, but it can apply to domestic as well.
Should I buy travel insurance? The short answer is YES. In general, travel insurance should cost anywhere from 4 percent to 10 percent of your total pre-paid, non-refundable trip cost. For insurance, if you purchased a trip with a total cost of $4000, the cost of your travel insurance should be in the price range of $200 – $400 depending on a couple of variables –age of the travellers, number of travellers, the length of travel and the type of coverage. So, if you can’t afford to buy travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
There are many reasons why you should buy travel insurance, but the main reason is the basic fact that you could get sick or injured during your trip. For example, you and your friends have planned a hiking trip to climb Machu Picchu since your high school day. After your first night in Lima, you wake with a severe stomach pain and high fever. Even though you bought that hiking package, you cannot hike, as you need emergency medical care –and quick. With travel medical coverage, you won’t be paying a huge medical bill due to this unexpected medical emergency. You don’t want to be hurt or sick in a foreign country without medical support. Have a quick google search for stories of people who didn’t have travel insurance, and remind yourself, there are a time and a place for being cheap, and travelling is not one of those time. Don’t take the risk.
For me, this UK government info-graph says it all.
What Travel Insurance Should I Buy?
Now that you got the answer for ‘Should I buy travel insurance?’, the next step is deciding on what type of travel insurance to purchase. I am not sure about Australia or Europe, but in North America, there’s an option for travel insurance and/or medical travel insurance. Medical travel insurance is a must when travelling because as mentioned above, a simple accident or illness could cost a lot of money. However, regular travel insurance such as flight cancellation, lost baggage etc., are not important and is something I never get, unless I am carrying more than $5,000 worth of camera gear.
Note: If your company has a multi-trip policy that covers you for both business and personal travel, DO take advantage of it. Some credit card has travel insurance coverage, DO read the conditions and take advantage of it –usually, you must purchase the flight using their credit card. If your credit card does not have travel insurance, or you don’t have a credit card or your trip is longer than 1 month, check out worldnomads or insuremytrip. Compare more than 25 providers based on criteria you enter for your trip. It is very comprehensive, and you can quickly narrow things down to things that matter most to you –medical only, or other speciality coverage.
Here are a couple things to look for when purchasing travel insurance:
- Medical Limits: It should be at least 2.5 million, or ideally, unlimited.
- Reimbursement of emergency medical treatment costs –including hospital charges, ambulance fee and return flight if you cannot use your original ticket.
- Activity Coverage: Check that it covers you for water activity, hiking activity or any activity you are planning on partaking during your trip. All travel insurance will only cover some and not all activities. For example, riding tuk-tuk or scooters in Phnom Penh might not be covered as they are considered an unsafe activity. Check for any motor insurance fine print.
- Individual Item Limits –the payouts the insurance company will give for individual items. Make sure the cap is a reasonable amount for the items you are taking over-sea —that it is enough to cover your expensive camera equipment or laptop as some insurance cap out at $100.
- Ask if they have Emergency Evacuation. Do they have a set of plan/action or protocol for you to safely depart from the country if a natural disaster occurs? Purchasing a plan that covers emergency evacuation would be ideal. Read the fine print to see if their plan will also cover your family or a friend to accompany you while you’re in medical care, including their accommodation and transportation.
- If you have any pre-existing medical conditions, check that they are covered as well, there is usually an extra fee.
- Clauses and Conditions: Please read them carefully, they’re as boring as two nuns in a bar, but as the saying goes, better safe than sorry. For example, in some clause, you may not be covered if you leave your stuff in the backseat of a car rather than in the trunk. I can’t say this politely enough, please read the damn fine print.
When Should I Buy Travel Insurance?
Although you can buy travel insurance anytime after making your trip purchase, even before the day you leave for the trip, it’s important you understand the term initial trip deposit date and what it constitutes. Once you make your first arrangement/purchase for a trip, that date becomes the initial trip deposit date. That specific date is important because many travel insurance coverages require you to purchase your travel insurance plan within a specified number of dates of making that initial trip deposit date, or else you might walk into a loophole where the coverage isn’t in effect because your purchase didn’t fall within the specified days of purchase (usually 10 to 14 days). In fact, it is best to purchase travel insurance as soon as possible in order to avoid many common insurance loopholes.
Where to Buy Travel Insurance
Like finding car insurance quotes, make sure you get at least ten different quotes from different companies. Don’t be scared into buying the first travel insurance you see. Use comparison sites like worldnomads or insuremytrip to get a bunch of quotes instantly. Google travel insurance, read some reviews on your insurance company, and see if people had problems claiming –remember Google is your best friend. If you do a few trips per year, consider buying a multi-trip annual policy as it usually works out cheaper. Personally, I use my credit card travel insurance as I usually buy my tickets on credit card.
You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
7 things you should know about travel insurance from WorldNomads.com
- Trusted reliable underwriters
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with a great cover, 24-hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
- Value for money with the cover you need
WorldNomads.com provides cover for what’s important for travellers from 140 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
- Flexibility when you need it most
Had a change of plans? You can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.
- Cover for a range of adventure activities
From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
- World Nomads keeps you travelling safely
All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
- More than just great value travel insurance
All WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.
- Commitment to exceptional customer service
We want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
If you do not have a credit card and is shopping for the best travel credit card, visit these sites to see ranking and reviews:
Keep a copy of the emergency numbers of your insurance company, your policy number and any other important documents on your person or in your suitcase. Hope you guys enjoyed my short ‘should I buy travel insurance‘ guide. If you have any good or bad experiences with your travel insurance company, please comment below.