- Do I need travel insurance?
- Choosing a travel insurance
- Best travel insurance
- Things to remember
Why do I Need Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is essential to protect you from unforeseen scenarios. It is something you hope you will never need, but you will eventually. It covers those minor incidents, such as losing your phone or breaking your camera. However, it also includes more severe situations, such as covering your flight costs to get home if a close family member passes away.
Additionally, travel insurance covers medical bills that you might have if you get sick while traveling. No one can predict food poisoning or a broken ankle from hiking in the mountains, so it’s essential to have insurance just in case. Traveling is one of the most exciting experiences, so don’t end up losing all the money you have invested in your trip by not having travel insurance.
Steps Towards Choosing the Right Travel Insurance
Price is not always the best indicator of good travel insurance. The most expensive policies might not cover the activities you are hoping to do on your trip. Whereas the cheapest policy might have a high excess (also known as deductibles). In order to choose the best travel insurance, take into account these things:
1. Get your activities covered
Planning on doing some exciting extreme sports while you’re away? Make sure to check that certain sports or activities are covered. If you want to ski, parachute, or bungee jump, a lot of policies won’t cover this. You may have to pay for extra coverage or choose another insurance company.
2. Determine the value of your belongings
Most policies will insure your belongings up to a certain limit. Because of this, it’s best to think about what you’re taking with you. For example, if you’re more of a ‘travel light’ kind of person than you’ll need very little cover.
However, if you are traveling with a camera, laptop, or expensive jewelry you will need higher cover for this. Work out the value of all your belongings and check that the value the policy is willing to insure equals the same amount or more.
3. Is medical care part of your travel insurance?
Travel insurance medical care is for ‘emergency’ situations, rather than your regular day to day medical care. For example, if you eat some dodgy food in Thailand and get food poisoning, your travel insurance will cover you for any medical care you may need in the hospital. However, if you take regular medication, this is something you need to arrange before your trip as it’s not classed as ‘emergency’ care. (Here are the best travel insurances)
It’s a good idea to consider the countries you are visiting, as countries like the USA and Norway have very expensive medical care. Check the medical budget allocated to your policy, especially when considering out of pocket expenses in the hospital. This is because most policies will require you to pay out at the hospital, and then claim back afterward.
Good to know: With Heymondo there are no out of pocket expenses. Simply call the 24-hour number and they will pay for your emergency medical treatment in advance.
4. Is trip cancellation covered in your travel insurance?
Trip cancellation is important if you’re not traveling under a package deal. For backpackers who arrange the trips themselves, it will be necessary to have flight cancellation included in certain circumstances. For example, if an airline cancels your flight, or you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseeable circumstances.
5. Think about the excess
Excess is the amount you will pay towards the claim before the insurer pays the remainder. For instance, if the excess on the policy for personal belongings is 75 USD, but the value of your belongings stolen is 500 USD, you would pay the first 75 USD and the insurer the remaining 425 USD. Because of this, it’s best to avoid choosing cheap policies with a high excess, especially if you’re taking valuable items with you or traveling to an expensive country.
On the other hand, it is also good to bear in mind high excess when you have a low value of belongings or the trip is of a low value in general. For example, if the excess on flight cancellation is 200 USD but your flight costs 160 USD, you wouldn’t be able to claim anything back for your flight.
6. Who are you going with and for how long?
To find the best insurance for you personally, think about how much you are traveling and who you are traveling with. If you’re traveling a lot within one year, or for a long period of time, choosing annual cover may work out cheaper. If you’re traveling with family, or a partner, you may be able to get a better deal choosing a family or couple policy.
3 x Best Travel Insurances
Every traveler has different needs. One may be traveling with expensive gear, so may need greater coverage for their belongings, and another may be skydiving and require higher coverage for activities. Take a look at the following companies, and their pros and cons, to help you choose which travel insurance is right for you!
1. World Nomads – best for backpackers!
- Comes highly recommended by Lonely Planet and National Geographic.
- One of the leading travel insurance providers
- Great for backpackers, with competitive prices and coverage of a range of adventurous sports and activities.
- You can buy more cover while you are away, extend your policy, or even buy the policy after leaving your home country!
- Covers most volunteering experiences, which many insurance providers don’t. For example, fruit picking or community projects.
- Doesn’t cover those over 70 years old.
- COVID-19 – World Nomads are not covering any corona virus-related claims nor the cancellation due to ‘fear of travel’.
2. Heymondo – best for long term travelers!
- Has a handy app with a 24-hour online doctor chat!
- No out of pocket fees. Call the emergency number and they’ll pay costs in advance. Great if you’re traveling to an expensive country!
- Very affordable annual insurance.
- COVID-19 – covers medical assistance and expenses even in the event of coronavirus.
- New company established in 2016
- Very few reviews about the quality of service
3. SafetyWing – best for digital nomads!
- ‘Insurance for nomads by nomads’. High coverage for those who travel while working for long periods of time.
- Can sign up even if your trip has already started.
- Automatic extension of your policy every month up until one year when they’ll contact you to see if you want to renew.
- Working on expanding into health insurance that will cover routine health care, not just emergency (August 2020)
- Much cheaper than most other insurance providers.
- Covers you for visits back to your home country. How many days allowed depends on your home country.
- COVID-19 – As of 1st August 2020, all new ‘Nomad Insurance’ policies will cover Corona Virus (unless the virus is contracted before the policy start date).
- No coverage for laptops, cameras, and other electrical equipment. This is hoped to change in the near future.
- Extreme sports like parachuting and paragliding not covered.
- A relatively new company (only established in 2017).
- Doesn’t cover those over 70.
COVID-19 Travel Insurance Warnings (August 2020)
No travel insurance is currently available for any country with a COVID-19 travel ban, or for anyone who travels against government advice. Most insurance companies are not covering any medical expenses or any cancellations of holidays as a result of coronavirus. This is because coronavirus is considered something that travelers are now aware of and a ‘known event’.
The good news is that most hotels and airlines will refund you, or provide you with a credit note if you are not legally allowed to travel or the trip is canceled due to coronavirus.
Make sure to check government advice carefully, check entry restrictions for your home country and country of travel, and ring your insurance provider to check what you are covered for.
Things to Remember with Travel Insurance
There are certain things to always keep in mind when taking out a travel insurance policy. Always:
Read the small print!
Remember to read the policy terms and conditions at least twice to make sure the small print fits your trip. Every insurance provider will have a different idea of what ‘risk’ or ‘adventure sports’ are. For example, some will even class horse-riding as high risk, and ask you to pay for extra coverage. Make sure the policy covers your age (for example price will be higher for those over 65) or any pre-existing medical conditions you may have.
Check the meaning of certain definitions. For example, if you need to fly home due to the sudden death or injury of a ‘close relative’. Insurance providers may vary in their definition of what a ‘close relative’ is. For instance, a parent or sibling may be covered but an auntie or cousin may not.
Don’t be irresponsible
Most policies will have general exclusions, where travelers will not be covered. For example, travelers will normally fail to claim if they are:
- Intoxicated due to alcohol or drugs.
- Engaging in criminal, or illegal, activity.
- Behaving in a reckless manner, or putting themselves in deliberate danger. For example, jumping off a cliff into the ocean, or driving off-road.
- Claiming for belongings left unattended. Always make sure to keep belongings with you at all times, to avoid the risk of loss or theft.
- Traveling with a pre-existing medical condition that they have not disclosed. Be honest and upfront with your insurance provider so you can get the best coverage for your needs.
Choose an insurance provider with a 24-hour hotline
This is essential so that you can call the provider any time day or night. You never know when you could run into trouble, especially if traveling in a different time zone to your insuring country. This is also really helpful if you need to ring to extend your policy or add coverage for new activities.
Use comparison websites & shop around
Don’t just choose the first, cheap, coverage that you come across. Shop around, use comparison websites, and read reviews. This will guarantee you find the best deal and the best insurance for your needs.