“Do I need travel insurance?” This is a question every traveler asks themselves before they begin their journey. For me, this is a no-brainer. Too many unforeseen things can happen while traveling. On a 4 month trip Round the World, I was scratched by a monkey and had to get multiple rabies vaccinations. This wasn’t fun, but at least all the doctor visits were covered by my travel insurance. A good policy will only cost approximately $100 per month through a provider such as World Nomads. This is a pretty inexpensive investment that will give you peace of mind in case an accident occurs.
However, not every traveler is the same. You just have to weigh the benefits vs. the additional cost. Here’s a few questions to ask yourself:
- Does your existing health insurance cover claims outside your country of residence? Some do and some don’t, so you should check before you buy travel insurance. If your health insurance doesn’t cover you, you’ll want to buy travel insurance.
- What kind of activities are you doing? If you’re doing activities that increase the risk of injury, you’ll want to buy travel insurance.
- Where are you traveling to? If you’re going somewhere remote or to an undeveloped country, buy travel insurance.
- How long will you be traveling for? The longer your journey, the more it makes sense to get travel insurance.
- What are your personal items worth? If you’ve got a few thousand dollars worth of clothes and gear, you might want to have it insured.
What Good Travel Insurance Normally Covers:
Medical Emergencies & Expenses – Covers medical treatment in a clinic or hospital, as well as any prescription costs while you get better. This is a very important part of travel insurance and will protect you if you have an accident. Your normal medical insurance might cover you when traveling abroad, but most don’t cover anything outside your country of residence (you should check).
Medical Evacuation Costs & Repatriation – Covers an accidental injury or sickness that results in needing emergency evacuation. Keep in mind that medical evacuation and transport costs typically start at $25,000 and can easily exceed $200,000, so this can really save your ass in a pinch.
Trip Cancellation – Reimbursement for non-refundable cancellation charges if you must cancel your trip due to sickness, accidental injury, or death of you, a family member or traveling companion or a variety of other reasons.
Trip Interruption – Reimbursement for non-refundable, unused expenses if you must interrupt your trip (after departure) due to sickness, accidental injury, or death of you, a family member or for a variety of other reasons.
Trip Delay – Reimbursement for additional expenses if you are delayed in route to or from the trip (delay usually has to be for more than 5 or 6 hours).
Lost Baggage & Personal Effects – Reimbursement for loss, theft or damage during the trip to baggage and personal effects.
Baggage Delay – Reimbursement for the purchase of necessary personal effects if your checked baggage is delayed or misdirected (delay usually has to be for more than 12 hours).
Accidental Death & Dismemberment – Coverage is for the loss of life or limb as a result of an accidental injury occurring during the trip.
24 Hour Emergency Hotline – Speak with an agent anytime from anywhere in the world.
Choose a Provider
I recommend World Nomads. So does Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, and National Geographic. One of the main reasons I love World Nomads is that they cover adventure sports. Not all travel insurance companies provide this. It’s important to read the fine print of most policies, so you know what’s covered and what isn’t.
World Nomads splits adventure activities into two tiers, Standard and Explorer. Standard coverage includes sports such as bungee jumping, hiking, mountain biking, skiing, and surfing. Explorer coverage costs more, but covers more dangerous activities like cave diving, cliff jumping, skydiving, and mountaineering. As an example, I just ran the following sample for a 3 month trip through World Nomads. At a minimum, you’ll get solid coverage on Medical Expenses and Emergency Evacuation. Standard coverage equates to $1.72 per day and Explorer coverage equates to $2.46 per day.
I’m also a fan of GeoBlue, which covers Medical and Evacuation related expenses only. There’s no coverage for things like lost baggage, trip delays, or trip cancellation. This is a cheaper option compared to comprehensive travel insurance, but it still provides protection from the most costly accidents.
When You’ll Be Glad You Had Travel Insurance:
- You’re surfing in a remote part of Indonesia and you just had a life-threatening injury. You need to be airlifted to a hospital, which is 150 miles away.
- A snowstorm caused your flight to be delayed until the next day. Now you need to reserve a hotel room and rent a car.
- You’re standing at the baggage claim and your bags never arrived. Not only do you need to buy a change of clothes, but you also had an important medical prescription in that bag that needs to be replaced.
- You’re lost in China and no one around you speaks English. You need to be able to call a hotline for some help.
- The week before you were going to head to the Caribbean, a devastating hurricane closed the resort you were going to stay at and now you need to cancel the trip.
- You’re staying at a remote lodge in the jungle and you get malaria. You need to be transported to the nearest hospital.
- You’re in the middle of your trip and there’s been a death of a family member. Now you need to buy a plane ticket and return home.
- There’s been a terrorist attack where you were planning on going and now you’ve got to cancel your trip.
- A pickpocket stole all of your credit cards and your passport. Now you need to get these replaced.