We get asked this question quite a lot. It seems to split opinion amongst fellow travellers and holidaymakers. Some folks tell us that they’d never leave home without solid travel insurance coverage whilst others will question the value of getting travel insurance to cover them on trips of any length.
Before we set off for our 8-month odyssey around Southeast Asia we struggled with this question too. We knew that buying travel insurance would be costly and really eat into our precious travel budget. However, despite nothing occurring during our trip which required insurance, we were still very glad to have the peace of mind with decent cover brings.
So, the short answer from our perspective is…. Yes – you should definitely have good travel insurance. Let us explain why in a bit more detail…
What’s Covered by Travel Insurance?
Even on a short break, it’s good to be covered in case things go wrong. And the longer you are travelling then the likelihood of a situation arising which can be covered by travel insurance increases.
We used to make the assumption that travel insurance covered only serious medical emergencies and possibly the stuff in our backpacks. Looking at it this way it’s easy to think you don’t need travel insurance if you are of the mindset that ‘nothing ever happens to me’ or ‘my stuff isn’t worth anything anyway’.
Investigate a little further and you’ll see that any decent travel insurance goes well beyond the basics and can really save your arse time and again. Here’s what any decent travel insurance can (and should) cover…
Cancellation And Resumption Of Journey (a.k.a Trip Protection)
This protects you if you are unable to start your trip or need to cut it short for whatever reason. Also, restarting your trip can be covered, handy if you want to get back on the road as soon as possible.
Imagine that you were all set to fly off to Hawaii for your romantic beach wedding and Kilauea volcano decides to erupt, creating a massive ash cloud and cancelling all flights. You could re-book your trip for a later date and avoid hefty cancellation fees via your travel insurance.
Or, how about making it to Hawaii and then suddenly needing to fly home due to a family emergency? You’d be covered there too, for the flights back home and back out again to resume your trip from where you left off. Great to know.
Additional Travel Expenses
If you incur some extra minor costs due to illness or injury then they can be covered as well if you’ve got a good insurance deal. If you ate the wrong thing at the local buffet and got so sick that you can’t make your flight the next day, you could have the additional costs of accommodation and flight rebooking covered.
Don’t worry, it’s nothing to do with colonic irrigation! This covers you if you need urgent treatment or surgery in a country where it’s not provided or would be a risk to have it. If you’re investigating the jungles of deepest, darkest Peru and smash your knee to bits, you can get flown to a suitable location for emergency surgery.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if you dropped that shiny new DSLR camera on the Great Wall of China and missed out on all those great shots? With the right kind of insurance, your kit will be covered in case of damage, not just theft or loss.
Most people are familiar with this term from their car insurance cover and it works in much the same way. As the name suggests, this covers you personally wherever you might be. If you ended up a situation where you are liable for an accident, loss, damage etc in the eyes of the law then this insurance option can really save you.
It’s the perfect way to ruin any trip but, airlines lose thousands of items of luggage all around the world every day. You can claim a set amount of money from your travel insurance to help you buy a new backpack, clothes and other essential supplies. A lifesaver which means you can carry on exploring regardless and minimise the disruption.
Car Rental Excess Insurance
Car rental can be a sure-fire way to get ripped off when travelling in many spots around the world. You’re often up-sold a hefty excess insurance premium which usually costs more than the can rental in the first place.
With the right type of insurance, you can avoid the hassle and costs and stick to the basic rental price as the rest is covered already. Superb.
The main thing that travel insurance should cover is any medical bills which arise during your adventures. Coming from the UK, where the superb National Health Service (NHS) provides blanket medical care for all, it’s easy to forget how much health care can cost in other countries.
Just a few days of hospital stay in many countries can see you coming face to face with a bill of hundreds if not thousands of dollars. This start to really skyrocket if you require any complex procedures or operations in a foreign land.
Here are just two examples of scenarios cited by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) from 2013 (source).
An estimated price of a stomach bug/infection treated in a Californian hospital with return flights to the UK £100,000 (USD $135,000).
Fall resulting in a broken hip, treatment in a Spanish hospital with return flights to the UK £15,000 (USD $20,500)
Which Travel Insurance company should I use?
Okay so now you’ve seen what travel insurance can cover it’s time to work out which companies provide the cover that you’ll need for your trip.
Just like clothes, there is no magic travel insurance onesie that fits everyone perfectly. It really comes down to what you’ll be packing and what you’ll be up to on your travels. Obviously, there’s no point in paying out for extreme sports coverage if you’re going on a relaxing city break to Bilbao.
We’d recommend writing down the kind of things you think you’ll be doing whilst travelling and estimate the rough value of the kit you’ll be taking with you. Just be honest and jot down stuff you’d be keen to try just in case, you know you’ve always fancied that skydive right? Also, add in things like scooter/moped hire, many insurance companies could refuse to pay out if you’re doing something they see as high risk.
Then check if your work, bank, home or existing medical insurance already cover this stuff. You might be surprised at how much you’re already covered.. or just end up disappointed and feeling vulnerable.
Starting a search for insurance cover online can be a right minefield of information but use a trusted comparison or reviews site, like moneysavingexpert.com for the UK. Use the above terminology from the ‘What’s covered’ section to see if the providers mentioned stack up.
Which Travel Insurance provider would we personally recommend?
If like us, you are a little more adventurous and will be visiting several far-flung countries in one amazing trip then you’ll need some really solid insurance to back you up. We’d suggest checking out World Nomads in this case.
Time and again we’ve heard great things from other travellers about their insurance cover and support. They are certainly not the cheapest but travel insurance is one place where the lowest price most likely equals a poor provider. It’s more a question of value over lowest price going and we don’t think you’ll find a better cover for longer term travellers pound for pound.
Drop your trip details in the box below to get a quote from World Nomads or visit their site to find out more.