Are you thinking about getting travel insurance before traveling?
People often ask me if it is really necessary to be insured when going on a trip. This may sound like an odd question—you can just up and go on your way, no insurance required—, but it is best to be covered, just in case.
From the several times I took out travel insurance, I had to file two claims: the first, when I lost my camera; the second, when my luggage got lost.
If you’re asking yourself: “Should I Buy Travel Insurance for My Next Trip?“
So, yes—I do think taking out travel insurance is a great idea and a must thing to do before traveling. Stuff happens, and you will be covered. It is always a peace of mind, especially abroad.
Travel Insurance – All You Need to Know
Travel insurance is designed to cover all the traveler’s needs. Policies and coverages vary according to the options you choose. The more basic insurances cover only hospital treatment and medical assistance in case of an accident or unexpected illness. The more advanced insurances cover all sorts of situations that can happen on a trip, from losing something to stolen items.
Prices vary too, depending on the insurance company and how old the traveler is, their nationality, which countries they’ll be traveling to and, of course, duration of the trip.
Who needs travel insurance
Generally speaking, subscribing travel insurance is a personal choice. Some people are more careful and feel the need for protection in case something goes wrong. Others assume odds are low, they accept the risk, they’re optimistic, and they believe everything is going to be okay. There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s a personal decision.
When it’s time to choose…
- When you think about getting travel insurance, at that time you’re weighing the pros and cons of buying such a product, consider this:
- Does the country or countries you’re visiting have a free or low-cost public health system for foreign citizens who are traveling there?
- If you need medical assistance or need to go to a hospital and have to cover your costs, how much will you pay?
- What kind of hospitals will you find in the country or countries you’re traveling to? In some countries, if something simple happens like breaking a leg, you’ll wish you could be evacuated to somewhere else. For example, you’re traveling in Thailand, a country with great hospitals, and decide to take a small trip to Laos where you find yourself in a minor accident that requires medical attention at a hospital. You’ll wish you’d be back in Thailand in no time!
- For how long will you be traveling? The truth is the longer your trip, the higher your chances of a misfortune. But from all the insurances you’re analyzing, check for how long will you be covered. Most insurances only last for up to three months.
- Where will you be? Don’t think only about the place’s medical assistance conditions but the odds of something serious happen to you.
- What kind of traveler are you?
What if travel insurance is mandatory?
In some situations, travel insurance is mandatory. I’m talking about countries that demand travel insurance to issue a visa, like Cuba or Iran, but there are many other cases.
In that case, as a traveler, you must check the requirements with that country’s consulate. Most of the times all they need is basic insurance that clears the country from covering any medical assistance costs in case the traveler needs it.
Sometimes there are specific demands. For example, if you want to visit Algeria, you’ll need insurance that includes a repatriation clause in case of medical assistance or death.
Are you sure you don’t have travel insurance already?
Many people have travel insurance they don’t know about. This typically happens if you have a credit card that you used to purchase your plane tickets.
For example, it’s the case with the Gold Visa cards issued by Portuguese bank BPI. If you have one of these credit cards and use it to buy your flights, you’ll activate free insurance. They have the same typical coverage of standard travel insurance, including accidents or sudden death, civil liability, trip cancelation or reduction. In that case, the travel insurance also includes your spouse and your children up to 25 years old, as long as they are your legal dependents. As with every other insurance, read the fine print and study all the conditions carefully, so you know exactly what to expect.
Pros and cons of travel insurance
- It grants you free medical assistance when traveling in case you need it;
- In severe situations, it covers your expenses to return to your home country, with medical assistance during your trip back home if needed;
- Depending on your options when subscribing insurance, it covers a series of damages that frequently happen to travelers:
- Missing a connecting flight;
- Stolen luggage;
- Lost luggage;
- Cancellation or interruption of a trip;
- Flight delays;
- Civil liability;
- A fee in case of an accident involving a rental car;
- Inability to attend an event due to a delay or cancelation;
- Resuming an interrupted trip due to death or hospitalization of a close relative or the traveler;
- Loss of personal documents;
- Having travel insurance may contribute to the traveler feeling calmer during the trip, and allow them to enjoy it more.
- It’s costly, especially in longer trips and if you choose insurance that covers as many things as possible;
- These insurances don’t cover any expenses regarding a health problem you might have before the beginning of your trip;
- It creates a sense of false security. We’ve all have heard of or have been through situations when insurance experts go to great lengths to dodge their responsibilities, whether by burying the insured person in paperwork or evoking exception clauses.
There’s a well-known worldwide name when it comes to travel insurances: World Nomads. The company was born from the vision of Simon Monk. In 1997, after eight years on the road, this Australian man registered the domain worldnomads.com and started one of the first travel blogs in the world. Three years later he was contacted by two other experienced adventurers, Wayne Tregaskis and Michael McAuliffe, and the three of them founded the first insurance company specialized in travel. That was the beginning of World Nomads that’s been in business since 2002.
World Nomads likes to keep things simple and you can tell that immediately just by browsing what they offer. Instead of multiple insurance plans with additional coverages, the company gives the traveler two options: Standard Plan and Explorer Plan.
The Standard Plan covers fewer situations and doesn’t have some of the add-ons of the Explorer Plan, which has unlimited coverage for the most critical issue of any travel insurance: medical and hospital assistance.
World Nomads travel insurances are frequently considered the best, as is their customer service and their company policy. On the other hand, they’re one of the most expensive in the market. They’re a better fit for those people who take insurances more seriously. Those who need minimal coverage just for the most frequent and most serious cases will do fine with cheaper, national insurance. Those who don’t mind paying a bit more for the chance to explore the world without any worries will do better with a World Nomads insurance.
World Nomads also has long term travel insurances but the prices aren’t very budget-friendly.
I always buy one of the World Nomads travel insurance packages.
5 things to know about World Nomads
- You can get covered even when you are already abroad.
- Worldwide coverage.
- Insurance extended while you are away.
- Over 200 adventure activities covered.
- Free security alerts on the road.
What your travel policy should cover
- Various medical expenses.
- Emergency evacuation back to your home country.
- Safe return of your under-aged child.
- Trip cancellation or interruption.
- Flight delay.
- Loss, theft or damage of personal effects / money – travel documents included.
- Luggage delay and emergency replacement of vital personal effects.
- Legal aid.
- Personal liability and damage on your car rental.
Frequently Asked Questions
These are some of the questions you might have on travel coverage. I will try and answer them in the clearest possible way to help you navigate this very important topic.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance is a service you buy and it covers several types of accidents, medical expenses and losses incurred while traveling.
Why take out travel insurance?
Getting covered gives you the peace of mind and confidence needed to fully enjoy your trip abroad. Accidents happen: money can get lost or stolen; luggage can get lost at the airport; you can get sick and be in need of medical attention; flights can get delayed and you may need lodging while waiting for another one; and so on. Travel insurance plans cover these expenses and help you feel protected, safe.
What does travel insurance cover?
Medical expenses and emergency evacuation: Hospitalization 100%; outpatient / specialist treatment 100%; prescription medication 100%; prescribed physiotherapy $2,100; dental care $265; ambulance ride 100%; medical evacuation / repatriation 100%; evacuation 100%; flight back home 100%; emergency repatriation 100%; lodging expenses, including boarding, and local transportation for an escort accompanying the insured person $4,352 ($265 a person per day).
Luggage – loss, theft or damage: maximum coverage per person / trip $1,600. While traveling outside your country of permanent residence, the following items should be covered by your travel insurance: bags / luggage; electronic devices, such as your laptop or cell phone; money; plane tickets; travelers cheques; credit cards; securities; passports.
Passport and/ or money loss: maximum coverage per person / trip $160.
Baggage loss: maximum coverage per person / trip $372. Insurance covers all reasonable expenses for emergency effects, such as clothing, toiletries and medication, in case your luggage gets delayed for more than five hours after arrival time at your destination abroad.
Flight delay: maximum coverage per person / trip $372, maximum $74 per day.
Hospital benefits: maximum coverage per person / trip $1,539, maximum $37 per day.
Security and Legal Aid: maximum coverage per person / trip $7,640.
Trip cancellation: maximum coverage per person / trip $1,539. This cover benefit ceases the moment you leave your country of permanent residence.
More serious stuff: all insurance companies cover graver events, like disability and such. Still, it is not worth getting into that now, since there is no room for gloomy stuff on this page. I am sure it will all turn out just fine for you all.
What doesn’t travel insurance cover?
There are a few aspects not usually covered by travel insurance plans, such as:
Pre-existing medical conditions: any medical condition you may have prior to your trip or your travel insurance policy is activated is not covered by your travel insurance. On the other hand, any illnesses you may get on the road (except for sexually transmitted diseases) are usually covered by your travel policy.
Deliberately putting your life in danger: if you decide to act like a daredevil and purposely risk your life, insurance will not cover those activities and their consequences.
Situations involving drugs and/or alcohol: we all know the risks of drinking and/or doing drugs. These double when you are in a foreign country. So, any problems you should come across abroad while under the influence won’t get your claim paid.
The cost of taking out travel insurance: this varies according to the length of your trip—buying travel insurance for a two-week trip won’t cost the same as for a two-month one.
Where should you take out your travel insurance?
I always take out my travel insurance through World Nomads , the most well-known and loved online insurance company for travelers. These guys have it all—it is extremely easy to get your coverage online with them and they offer amazing benefits.
Taking out travel insurance
Fill out your personal information below and buy your travel coverage online.
Other international options
In addition to World Nomads, there are other companies specialized in travel insurance:
- True Traveller. This is a good option because it allows the traveler to subscribe insurance even if they’re already traveling. It also allows the traveler to increase coverage and you don’t need a return date to subscribe it.
- IMG Travel Insurance. It’s a good option for conventional trips and for long abroad.
European Health Insurance
If you’re a citizen of a European Union country, you’ll have free access to health insurance that’s valid in every country of the EU.
Keep in mind this will only cover situations that are health related. You’ll have access to the same medical assistance of that country’s National Health System beneficiaries when traveling, and will pay the same fees as them. There might be some exceptions in some countries, but that’s basically it.
To benefit from this insurance, you have to apply for a European Health Insurance Card with your local Social Security office or online. If you apply for it too close to your departure date, try getting a temporary document that’s as valid as the card.
The validity of the card is short. Check if it’s still valid every time you travel.
Good to know when getting travel insurance
- Compare all national and international offers and choose insurance with the conditions, price, and coverage that fit your profile, your needs, and your traveling style. Or just decide you don’t need to spend money on that and travel without insurance.
- Read all conditions carefully. If you have any questions or the text isn’t clear, don’t hold back and clear everything with your insurance agent.
- Make sure if you’re subscribing assistance when traveling or travel insurance. They might sound like the same thing, but they’re actually quite different. In the first case, if you need to use it, you won’t pay anything for medical assistance but you can only use doctors and hospitals that have an agreement with the insurance company. With travel insurance, the traveler has to pay for assistance and be refunded later, but on the other hand, you can get assistance from any hospital or any doctor. Most of the current health insurances are a mix: they provide assistance when traveling for minor issues and travel insurance for more expensive problems.
- Be informed of all procedures in case you need to use the insurance. Check the fees you’ll have to pay just to activate it and what you’ll need to do, such as if you need to get the insurance’s permission before going to the hospital or seeking medical assistance.
- Try choosing insurance that has 24/7 customer service, preferably with toll-free phone numbers you can call from abroad.
- What if you need to pay for a hospital bill? Do you have to pay it in full and wait for a refund or do you just need to pay a fee or a percentage of the total cost? Better be prepared.
- If you subscribe insurance that covers stolen or damaged luggage, keep detailed records of all luggage pieces. Photograph them, write down their serial numbers, and keep note of every detail that sets them apart.
- When traveling, make sure all your policy information is accessible. Print it, keep a digital copy in your email inbox and another one in a cloud storage service like Dropbox or Google Drive. If you’re incredibly paranoid, give a copy to someone you trust.