Let’s talk travel insurance. Chances are you have come to this blog post because you’re contemplating insurance, or you need to know where to go to purchase a solid coverage plan that is going to have you stress-free on your trip. Congrats! You’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, I am going to cover the ins and outs of travel insurance: why you need it, where to get it, and things to remember while browsing and while you’re on the road. Travel insurance is something that no one should travel without no matter your fitness levels or your super-human beliefs on how you are immune to the bad things that happen during travels. Shit can hit the fan no matter what country you’re in and you want to make sure that you’re covered in the event that something does happen. Also, it will take a huge weight off your shoulders and you’ll be able to say yes to cliff jumping, sky diving, and wakeboarding without the looming worry of not being insured. I want you to have an anxiety-free, adventurous trip and that is why I have dedicated this whole blog post about this topic. I have learned my lesson in not purchasing travel insurance that I will cover in a couple of headings down, but let’s dig into why you need travel insurance: and trust me, you do.
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Why Do You NEED Travel Insurance?
If you don’t like forking over cash for something that is seemingly unnecessary, trust me, we are in the same boat. However, travel insurance is entirely necessary and here’s why: There is nothing that is ever going to guarantee that you won’t need medical or gear coverage on a trip. It’s like those scenes in movies where they say, “What could PosSiBly gO WRoNg?” and then disaster strikes. We don’t want that, and more importantly, if something does happen, we want to make sure that we’re covered. Imagine yourself renting a (really) expensive, brand new Lamborgini Gallardo in the deserts of Dubai with no insurance and average driving skills… Yikes. Now imagine that you damage or wreck the car… Double Yikes. Actually, make that triple yikes once you receive the bill after all the fun you just had. That’s the risk you’re taking when you travel without insurance, only you’re the wrecked Lamborgini AND the hefty bill. Inevitably, you’re going to get yourself into some heart-pumping adventures, questionable street food, or illnesses (or all three) that are going to have you thanking the heavens that you bought yourself some quality travel insurance in the instance that these things happen on the road.
There is a saying that goes, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” and I believe that should be every traveler’s personal mantra while booking a trip. I would much rather spend the money and be covered and not need travel insurance rather than not buying it, needing it, and ending up owing back more than the cost of my trip. To make things simple, just do yourself a huge favor and make it the first thing you write into your travel budget.
The Time I Didn’t Have Insurance (When I Could Have Really Used It)
To be honest, in my first three years of traveling I never traveled with insurance. Was there a time I needed it? Absolutely. Here’s what happened:
So, I am not a huge fan of driving. I get extremely worked up and nervous when I get behind the wheel, and scooters are no different. When I went on my first solo trip to Bali, Indonesia, I thought it would be a great idea to learn how to drive my scooter in the windy roads of the mountains instead of the flat, easy-to-navigate roads in the central hubs of Kuta and Canggu. To be fair, I didn’t know the roads were going to be as overwhelming (at least for me) as they were, and I heavily overestimated my ability to wing it. I was taking my newly rented scooter for a test run, keyword here ‘test run’, and I was seconds away from being into my guesthouse when I turned the scooter improperly and it slipped out from under me, giving me a pretty gnarly and hefty second degree burn on my calf that was a little bigger than my hand. The day I decided to go to the hospital it was closed, so I opted for a nice ladies clinic, but her antibiotics and creams were no match for the Southeast Asian bacterias and I only had a three day supply. Long story short, I had to cut my trip early since my burn was feeling worse and worse each day. The burn had gotten so bad that I wasn’t able to walk in the morning for around 15 minutes until the blood started circulating and I was in pain with each step that I took. At the time, I knew that a hospital visit was going to cost me and I wasn’t insured, so I became very stubborn and avoided real help that I could have really benefitted from.
Nowadays, you bet I will be covered for any and all of my adventures. I travel with too much precious cargo, myself and my camera gear, to risk not having it covered and potentially paying out a lot of money. No one can predict what will and won’t happen, especially in other countries. There is a great blog post here that tells stories of travelers’ where their insurance saved them tens of thousands of dollars of debt. It is well worth the read and it’s perfect for a brief reality check if you’re still on the fence about purchasing it.
What Is Travel Insurance + What Can It Cover?
Travel insurance is protection from
the good, the bad, and the ugly that may happen during your travels.
It can be organized into five different main categories: medical insurance, emergency evacuation, travel protection, baggage protection, and accidental death. It sounds a little daunting, but we’re going to break down each one into the nitty gritty so you have an overview of each one so you can choose the plan that works the best for your needs. It really really REALLY important that you read the policies of the travel insurance companies you are browsing because, like most things, they aren’t all created equal. Read their FAQ’s, ask questions, and read the fine print (and not like scrolling through the Terms & Conditions and clicking ‘agree’ lol you need to actually through them).
Depending on where you live and what insurance you have, you may already be covered for medical mishaps abroad (woot woot!), but always check with your healthcare provider before buying or adding medical insurance to your coverage plan. However, even if you are covered while you’re away, you may want to purchase an additional coverage plan that covers what your primary insurer doesn’t, like deductibles. You can purchase primary coverage that will cover you up to a certain amount of money (it differs with each plan). The benefit of choosing a primary coverage plan is that if you end up staying in the hospital overnight, the medical facility works directly with your travel insurance medical plan rather than your medical insurance from your home country. So you could have out-of-pocket expenses if you use your regular medical insurance and then you’ll be reimbursed by your stateside insurer at a later date.
You don’t want to skimp out on this aspect of your coverage since this is the most unpredictable and expensive thing to have to pay out for if anything happens. Most companies offer up to $100,000 USD to cover medical expenses, but you’re able to opt in for a higher limit if you need more coverage. Trust me, you don’t want to surpass your coverage limit in the middle of getting treatment or surgery and have to fork over a ton of cash to cover the rest of the medical costs, so make sure you’re covered in case things go south.
In the event that you need to be airlifted somewhere or even flown home, you want to make sure this is in your coverage plan. If not, you’re going to be paying out the WAZOO in expenses just to get yourself home. A couple of important things to note here is that some policies only cover you once you arrive at the hospital, so always make sure to ask the insurer about what is covered before and after you get to the hospital. In addition to that, if you’re a bit of an adrenaline seeker and love doing extreme sports or other activities that get your heart racing, make sure you’re covered for that because some companies don’t since you’re taking a risk with “risk-ay” activities. The World Nomad’s Explorer Plan is a fantastic option for this since it covers over 200 adventure sports and activities, some of which I have never even heard of, but it’s worth giving it a look if you’re into any of those activities and want to make sure you’re covered for them.
Travel, Gear, + Baggage Protection
This coverage is singlehandedly the most important (right beside medical) since I feel like the common traveler is more likely to come across trip delays, luggage loss, flight cancellations, trip cancellations, or even stolen or broken gear than say an emergency surgery. In the event that you do need to fly back home and cancel excursions, accommodations, or even cancel everything you booked, this is going to reimburse you (amount depends on policies) for the entirety of your trip or a portion of it. These kinds of things happen to all travelers, experiences and inexperienced, so it’s important that when these situations happen, you walk into the situation knowing that you covered. These things are essential when purchasing insurance and you want to make sure they’re included in your plan:
- Coverage for the country you’re traveling to
- Protection for your valuable items (i.e. camera, lenses, laptop, etc..)
- 24/7 customer assistance
- Medical coverage for injuries and illnesses
- Coverage for natural disasters, civil unrest, and war.
Important Things To Remember With Travel Insurance
- No matter what company you book with, they’re going to do everything in their power to not pay you. This means that you need to keep track of receipts, bookings, and electronics that you take with you on your trip so that you can accurately and efficiently file your claim and get your money.
- No travel insurance company covers every single thing, especially if you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol during your activity.
- Filing a claim is a process and you’re not going to receive your money instantly. You also need to thoroughly go through your claim to make sure everything is correct otherwise you will have to start the whole thing over again.
- If you travel with a lot of camera gear or expensive equipment, make sure your payout exceeds the value of your items. if you’re traveling with gear that costs upwards of $6000 and you’re only covered for $1500, you’re going to be in a sticky situation if your camera breaks, or if your entire gear bag is stolen, lost, or damaged.
- Some insurance plans don’t cover most extreme activities like bungee jumping, skydiving, and sometimes even scuba diving. Make a list of all the things you plan on doing while you’re away, even if you’re on the fence about it, and choose a plan that covers those activities.
Questions You Should Ask Before Buying Travel Insurance
Is the company reputable? Are there reviews of personal and positive customer experiences?
Am I covered for flight or trip cancellations?
Am I covered for extreme sports?
Is luggage loss or theft covered?
Can I extend or modify my coverage plan while traveling?
Does this company offer 24/7 customer assistance?
Are there medical exclusions that apply to me?
Do I need approval before seeking medical attention?
Does this plan cover clinic and emergency room visits?
What Travel Insurance Company Do I Use?
No matter how long I plan on being away or what country I travel to, I always book with World Nomads. I have found that they consistently offer the best rates and coverage for my specific travel needs and they have a great customer service and response team. I am an adventure traveler, so I do like to seek out activities that push me past my limits and give me a thrill during my travels and I love that World Nomads protects me whether I’m meters underneath the sea or thousands of meters above sea level. I know that I am covered and that I have access to help whenever I need it since they offer 24/7 customer assistance and they offer coverage in over 140 countries.
How Much Are Insurance Plans With World Nomads?
Pricing differs for the destination and length of your trip, but I have found that a standard, three-month backpacking trip through Southeast Asia, including 3+ countries, comes out to around $5/day for insurance with World Nomads for a solo female traveler from the United States. That price comes with the explorer plan so you are covered for all the activities listed in the plan. You can use this price quote tool to see how much a plan for your specific travels needs is and it takes only a few minutes!
What has been your favorite thrilling, adrenaline-filled adventure on your travels? Share with me in the comments below!
This post does contain affiliate links for the services I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.