Travel insurance is one of the most important parts of travel planning, yet is also somehow the most overlooked. And while it’s certainly not a glamorous topic, it is essential to ensuring you are protected it and when life happens (and life always happens!). Imagine how challenging it would be to have a health emergency, loose your bags, or get your expensive photography equipment stolen while on the road with no coverage. These are all things we of course hope never happen, but must prepare for whether you are planning a short term domestic journey or round-the-world adventure. As the old saying goes, prevention is cheaper than treatment.
If you’ve skipped purchasing coverage in the past or had challenges figuring out which type of coverage you need, read our compiled list of recommendations we hope will help you simplify the process of buying travel insurance.
So what exactly is travel insurance and what does it cover? Travel insurance is the antibody of travel woes. It enables you to prevent and overcome circumstances that are beyond your control and typically covers three main categories:
Trip Cancellation or Interruption: If you have to cancel your travel plans prior to departure due to unforeseen events, an illness or injury, trip cancellation coverage will cover the non-refundable portion of your prepaid expenses. Trip interruption insurance covers the costs you would incur in the event that you have to return home before or after your scheduled return date due to an unexpected death, sickness or injury, affecting you, an immediate family member or your travel companion. It typically also covers any unused portions of your prepaid travel arrangements that are non-refundable.
Baggage and Personal Effects: Imagine that you’ve just landed at the airport and you’re waiting for your suitcase by the carousel. Minutes go by and as people retrieve their luggage, yours is still nowhere to be found. You slowly become submerged with panic and silently hope that you’ll be reacquainted with your dear luggage… but your hope dissipates when your baggage fails to appear on the conveyor belt. If you’re counting on the airline to reimburse you if your baggage is lost or damaged in flight, you should know that a) it can take several weeks for the airline to even admit that your luggage is lost, b) the value of your personal items may not be valued anywhere close to what you actually spent on them c) airlines have strong limits of liability and may not cover some of your items, even if they’re at fault. Baggage insurance like Travel Insured’s Worldwide Trip Protector offers up to $1,000 when baggage or personal effects are lost, stolen or damaged. They also provide a reimbursement up to $300 for clothing and personal items that you had to purchase if your baggage was delayed 12 hours or more after arriving at your destination.
Medical Emergencies: No matter how much we practice safety and caution; an illness or injury can strike at any time. Travel medical insurance is designed to provide coverage in the event of emergency medical needs while away. This typically includes ambulance costs, prescription drugs, hospitalization and emergency room costs. Certain providers even cover medical evacuation and repatriation. Before purchasing travel medical insurance, you should know your medical history as any expenses incurred due to a pre-existing condition will not be covered. We also recommend holding on to your receipts to avoid any hiccups while filing your claim.
IDENTIFY YOUR NEEDS
Once you familiarize yourself with the policies out there, it’s time to compare travel insurance plans. You may want to strictly focus on cost when comparing between different plans, but it’s important to first identify your needs. What do you need, or expect out of the travel plan that you choose?
Adventure Sports: If you intend on skiing in the Alps or going white water rafting, your insurance needs and expectations will differ from someone who is traveling to Barcelona to soak up some sun at the beach. If you’re headed for a trip that will involve adventure sports, it may be difficult to find suitable coverage as those activities are considered higher-risk. Not to worry though, World Nomads has got you covered. Activities like skiing, snowboarding, glacier walking (?!), snorkeling, scuba diving, zip lining and mountain biking are a few of the 200 adventure sports insured by the company.
Family: Family vacations are already difficult to plan as it is without the added stress of finding the right insurance. If you’re travelling with kids under the age of 17, consider purchasing The Classic Plan by Allianz which provides free coverage for all children 17 and under who are traveling with a parent or grandparent. Most travel plans will tie the number of children covered with the number of paying adults on the plan but with Allianz, you can be the only adult on the plan and still receive coverage for your children.
Senior: Most insurance providers impose age restrictions and refuse to provide coverage to individuals over the age of 100. Some companies like World Nomads even go as far as refusing coverage to anyone over the age of 66. If you’re a geriatric or you’re someone who’s traveling with an elderly person, we recommend checking out plans offered by Travel Insured, which are available to people of all ages.
Long Term Travel: If you’re embarking on a long-term backpacking trip or a long journey sans backpack, you should stray away from companies with a 180-day duration limit. World Nomads permits coverage extension should you want to extend your coverage while on the road. The process is hassle-free and only requires you to have an internet connection. TravelSafe also caters to long-term travelers as the company insures trips lasting over three years, which is a rarity in the travel insurance industry. TravelSafe also offers an Extended Personal Property Pac which provides up to $1,000 coverage on personal items or equipment like a laptop or smartphone.
Know what you're already covered for. Through your employer’s benefits, homeowner policy or regular health plan, you may already be entitled to travel insurance coverage. Prior to booking your trip and insurance coverage, do some research to find out what you’re already covered for to avoid overlaps and reduce overall costs.
Compare coverage prices online. Websites like Insurance Hotline allow travelers to compare quotes from top insurance providers. All you need to do is enter a few trip details such as your travel dates, destination and coverage type. You’ll also need to declare if you have any pre-existing medical conditions and if you’ve smoked in the past two years. After entering all the required information, you’ll be provided with a list of quotes, the features each coverage offers, the cost per trip/traveler and a direct link to purchase the insurance.
Read the fine print. We’ve all lied about reading and agreeing to terms and conditions but insurance isn’t something you want to play with. Take the time to read the entire policy to be fully aware of age cutoffs and other limitations and restrictions.
Ask questions. Most insurance providers have toll-free numbers. Take advantage of that! If the fine print and legal jargon are just too much to process, pick up your phone and clarify any uncertainty with the company directly.
Read up on the provider that you're considering. The internet is the best place to determine whether or not you should purchase a product. If you research an insurance company and you are inundated with horror stories, you may want to take those testimonies into account when making your final decision. Pro tip: look for the Better Business Bureau rating of the provider.
Do they offer online claims? Look for a company that allows you to submit your claim online. Companies like John Hancock allow you to print the claim forms from their website but still require you to mail them. World Nomads on the other hand, offers an online claim submission, so you can start the reimbursement process from anywhere in the world.
Travel insurance is just another form of warranty, but unlike an Apple Care Protection that you can easily omit from purchasing, foregoing travel insurance can have long-lasting repercussions. While we hope that you’ll never actually need to use it during your travels, it’s important to travel smart.
Be proactive and seek adequate protection to avoid regrets. Use our widget below to learn more about World Nomads and be covered for your next trip.
Photography by Sopsiak Photography
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If you found this article helpful, please consider purchasing travel insurance via our link to support our community and keep our digital space ad-free. Lee is currently using this travel insurance company to cover her while traveling longterm. If you have any questions, reach out using our contact form here.