This post has lots of information on how to buy travel insurance. For my most recent analysis of what travel insurance is the best buy read Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must.
In the last 18 months my travel insurance has paid to
- replace a pair of glasses lost in the UK – $300
- fix a crown that came off a tooth in Sydney – $272
- refund me for a flight to Peru that I couldn't take due to my mother's health. – $1,100
And that doesn't even address the serious medical issues that proper insurance can protect you for.
Do I believe in insuring my travel and me as I travel?
That's a BIG YES.
It seems I've had a bit of a bad run these past 18 months. It's not always like that but I've been very glad that I've been insured and I've been more than compensated for my insurance fees of the past many years. Ah, but I'm Canadian and can only give you a Canadian perspective. So, to provide advice I went to travel bloggers from five other countries to get their advice.
But there's more in this post. Here are links to the various sections of the post.
- What to look for in travel insurance.
- How to select the right insurance.
- Cheat Sheet on What Insurance to Buy by Country
- The bloggers thoughts on whether you need travel insurance:
- Tips on successful insurance claims
What to Look for in Travel Insurance
Travel insurance can cover a wide variety of situations. Not all policies cover the same things or to the same degree so you need to study what you’re getting carefully. Essentially, travel insurance usually covers:
- The trip itself – trip cancellation insurance.
- Accident, medical and dental care.
- Evacuation or transportation to medical care.
- Lost baggage or personal items.
- Cancelled flights due to weather. (This has certainly been an issue in the last year.)
- Help with replacing lost documents.
How to Select the Right Travel Insurance
Because insurance is a service we buy but typically don’t use, the inclination is to buy the cheapest product on the market. However, if you do need it you’ll want top quality service. It’s important to read the fine print and really know what you’re getting.
- First know what your current home owners, vehicle and medical insurance covers. Know what your credit card companies cover and the responsibilities of the airlines/tour companies you’re traveling with. Know what it will cost to add floaters or riders to existing policies to cover certain aspects of the insurance you require such as the coverage of gear.
- Understand the exclusions and limitations of the insurance policies you’re considering. Do you have a pre-existing health condition that will void the insurance? Will it cover you for adventure activities like scuba diving or sky diving? Does your trip cancellation insurance cover any reason or just some reasons? How are those reasons defined?
- Clarify whether the medical portion of the insurance is secondary or primary. Primary coverage means that they will step in and pay for medical services up front. Secondary means that you have to submit receipts after the fact which can get you involved in disputes over what is covered.
- Confirm that the insurer offers 24 hour emergency service.
- Know how much they will pay out for different types of claims. How much for lost luggage or the maximum amount for emergency transportation or evacuation.
- Ensure that electronics are covered if you carry a lot of gear.
- Know if legal expenses are covered should it be necessary.
In some cases, the insurance you purchase is actually being provided by a third party not the company you buy it from. If this is the case, check on the reputation of that provider and compare their pricing to see if you are better buying it from them directly.
Cheat Sheet on What Insurance to Consider by Country
The bloggers give you their sense of the need for insurance below. For those who want to skip the reasoning here are companies to consider.
- The United States: RoamRight Travel Insurance or World Nomads.
- Canada: World Nomads
- Australia: World Nomads
- Bloggers from the United Kingdom, Germany and The Netherlands all recommend going through your bank though for long trips or trips that involve more adventurous activities you could compare the coverage with World Nomads.
Top American Travel Blogger Says You Definitely Want to Be Insured
I think that travel insurance doesn’t get the recognition that it deserves and while I never travel without it, most of the people I know almost never buy it. This has always confused me – we insure every other investment in our lives, so why not the travel experience? After all, there’s a greater chance of having a severely delayed flight than an earthquake destroying my house.
Many folks may assume that their current insurance policies, whether they be medical, homeowners, or renters, will cover their travel mishaps, but that’s almost never the case. In fact, most of those conventional policies will exclude travel disasters. I’ve known far too many people who (sadly) have really needed their insurance for everything from major medical emergency evacuations to lost luggage and that alone has ingrained in me the belief that I should never travel without it.
My personal provider of choice for the last three years has been RoamRight Travel Insurance. I’ve had to file claims for both cancelled flights and lost bags and have been paid back quickly and without hassle.
Note: There's another tip for Americans in the Canadian report below.
I Believe Canadians Really Need to Be Insured for Travel
I don't believe in taking insurance every time it's offered (When to Buy (and not buy) Insurance) but I do believe in having an annual insurance plan to cover my travels. As you read at the opening of the post, I have frequently benefited from having the right insurance in place. When shopping for my annual plan I compare three policies, their benefits and costs. When I did this again last fall I decided that my American Express Travel Insurance was still the best deal. HOWEVER, that's for an annual plan. As per my analysis in this post, Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must, World Nomads is a far better deal if you're not doing more than four, 14-day trips in a year. Plus, World Nomads is the only provider I know of that will let you buy insurance when you're already traveling, though there may be a short delay before it takes effect.
Australian Travel Bloggers Say it's Important to be Insured
Travel insurance is a priority for us in preparing for a trip. It's not an exciting cost of travel, nor something anyone ever really wants to pay, but I'd rather pay it and eliminate a potential expensive disaster and huge amount of hassle. The peace of mind it gives makes it worth spending money on something that rarely eventuates. We recommend taking time to find the right coverage for you. Understand what your needs are, the risk level you're willing to take, how much luggage you want to cover, and what the potential loss will be for cancelled trips, etc. Never skip out on medical coverage!
We spent a fair amount of time researching the best insurance for Australians traveling overseas. You can read more about it in this post. But, we discovered a relative newcomer, World2Cover had by far the best coverage and the lowest price. It's especially good for families as kids travel for free (up to the age of 25!)
On their blog Caz and Craig recommend World Nomads as well.
British Travel Blogger Doesn't Leave Home Without It
Our mantra is “never leave home without it.” From personal experience I can vouch for this. In 2004 when my dad was taken ill while on a cruise his insurance was crucial. Without his insurance we as a family would have been bankrupted. His stay in the cruise ship hospital, an unscheduled stop at the Panama Canal, ambulance and three week hospital stay in Panama, plus a medical team being sent from the UK to escort him home on two flights cost over £250,000. Few people can easily afford such a figure. When you have huge emotional worries, you really don't need financial ones as well.
For us, the basic coverage includes a minimum of £10 million for medical care, including repatriation. Our travel insurance is covered by one of our banks and we get a better deal due to holding an account with them.
Germans May Need Less Insurance for Travel
I know that travel insurance is a big topic for every traveler. Depending on where you live, there are many different options and providers. There are a few companies, like World Nomads, who specialize in providing a good service in travel insurances, also for long-term travelers. But I would recommend you contact your own insurance company and compare rates.
The only travel insurance of interest for me is the health insurance. As I'm based in Germany, my health care plan automatically covers all the costs if something should happen in Europe. On top of that, I have purchased worldwide insurance via ADAC, the automobile club in Germany. From my experience, they are hard to beat in terms of service and price and you should contact your automobile club to see if they offer a good deal as well. I pay around €15 per year and all trips up to 40 days are covered. So if I need treatment abroad, they will take care of me, cover costs and, if needed, just fly me back home to Germany if the host country's hospital is not well equipped.
I've been a travel agent for 10 years, selling a lot of insurance as people like to feel secure. But personally I see most travel insurance as a waste of money. If you sum up all the costs you spend on insurance and just save the money instead, you can easily rebook flights, buy new luggage, etc. Only your health should not be a question and should be insured safely.
Dutch Travel Blogger Believes it's a Necessity
I never travel without travel insurance. I have a blanket insurance policy which I renew every year that covers things like theft, lost baggage, costs incurred by delayed/cancelled flights, accidents, watersport accidents, medical costs and repatriation. The policy also covers costs incurred for situations whereby I have to cut short my trip due to an emergency at home or if I have to stay longer due to illness or a mishap. In the past, I've also taken an add-on policy for winter sport trips. Having these insurance policies gives me peace of mind knowing that I'm covered no matter what happens. I use the insurance offered by my bank, ABN AMRO.
Tips on Insurance Claims
- Keep three copies of your travel insurance information. One on you (in your purse, day pack or wallet), one in your suitcase and one with your emergency contact at home.
- Contact your insurance provider as soon as you think you need to make a claim. They'll guide you so that you don't miss a step.
- Be diligent about keeping receipts. You won’t be reimbursed on expenses simply because you say that you spent the money.
- Make your claim quickly. Don't let the paperwork for your claim hang around so that it can get lost. When you return home,
I hope this post has helped you decide whether you need travel insurance or not. Perhaps the insurance providers used by the travel bloggers will be helpful as well.
Wondering About Travel Insurance?
- “I just couldn't leave my mother to travel when she got sick. Fortunately, my travel insurance reimbursed me for my flights which was all I had spent to date”
- “I lost my prescription glasses on a hike in the UK. When I got home I was surprised to learn that my travel insurance would pay out up to $300 for them.”
- “I was in Sydney, Australia when a crown popped off a tooth. I had it fixed by a local dentist and recovered the cost from my travel insurance.”
It takes just minutes to buy travel insurance. You could be thankful you did for the rest of your life. Here are two companies to check out.
You can read my full report on travel insurance here: Going Alone? Travel Insurance is a Must