Wondering why everyone just keeps blabbing on about the need for travel insurance?
Are you on the fence about getting insurance for your next trip?
Well, I know it can be confusing! I’ve been living a life of travel since 2012 and learned a thing or two about the need for travel insurance. The truth is that it can be a real life-saver at times, but there may also be specific situations in which it may not be absolutely neccessery.
In this FAQ, I’ll share with you my tips and advice.
Answers in this guide:
- Why should you get travel insurance?
- What isn’t covered by travel insurance?
- What’s the best travel insurance?
- Do you really need insurance for every trip?
- Why can’t you use the insurance you have at home?
- Something happens — now what?
- What’s the best long term travel insurance?
- What’s the best insurance for digital nomads?
Why should you get travel insurance?
Travel insurance will cover you financially for a range of eventualities. Depending on your specific policy, some of the things it could cover include:
- Overseas emergency medical and dental expenses
- Emergency medical evacuation
- Trip delay, cancellation, or interruption due to an unforeseen event
- Delayed, damaged, or stolen gear or bags
Sounds good, right? Buying travel insurance is a way of getting a lot more peace of mind during your trip. If anything happens, you’ll be able to claim back some of the costs, not to mention you’ll always have the insurer’s 24/7 helpline for advice and assistance.
If you ask me, not all of the coverages are equally important, though.
I think insurance is most essential for things that aren’t likely to happen but which, if they do, can cause considerable financial problems. Medical coverage and liability insurance fall absolutwly into that category. Getting hospitalized for $50,000+ is a pretty big deal, for example. But your $200 camera getting stolen is still a manageable setback.
Nevertheless, things like theft coverage are still nice to have, in addition to insurance for any bigger emergencies.
What isn’t covered by travel insurance?
Travel insurance isn’t designed to cover everything. Terms, conditions, and exclusions do always apply — but simply put, it won’t insure you for carelessness.
- leaving your bags completely unattended in public
- going to a country where there’s a war or disaster (which was known at departure time)
These things understandably won’t be covered.
Travel insurance also typically won’t cover you for pre-existing medical conditions.
I recommend reading the terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy so there’s never any surprises. I know, reading a legal document is pretty dull, but it should only take 10 minutes or so.
What’s the best travel insurance?
There are so many travel insurance companies that it’s hard for anyone to say which is truly the best. I myself recommend several travel insurers that I also have an affiliate relationship with.
For shorter trips (up to several weeks), you may want to look at World Nomads. They are a leading insurer for independent travelers with worldwide coverage. It includes coverage for loads of travel activities (hiking, diving, climbing, etc.).
They are not always the cheapest, but they are known for their comprehensive coverage, which I think is especially valuable for trips under several weeks, in which an unforeseen situation could really spoil the trip.
You can get a quote with World Nomads here.
If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, I also recommend Heymondo. You can get a quote with Heymondo here. They are a newer company but I think their packages are very attractive (I use Heymondo myself now). If you go to the Heymondo site using any link in this post, you’ll get an extra 5% discount.
Do you really need insurance for every trip?
As with so many things, it depends. In my personal opinion, if you’re going on a trip that’s not that far from home, then maybe you’re not exposed to quite as much risk. For example, I’m from the Netherlands and so I probably wouldn’t get insured for a quick weekend trip to Belgium — I could just get back to the Netherlands very easily.
But a trip to somewhere further away?
In that case, I think travel insurance is a no-brainer, as it saves you from considerable worries and potential financial risk.
On several occasions, I’ve been extremely relieved to be insured. I’ve also met many travellers for whom it was even a real life-saver when their trips took an unexpected turn.
By the way, If you’re an EU citizen traveling within the EU, you can get a free EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). This will give you the right to access state-provided healthcare during a trip anywhere in the EU plus Norway, Iceland, and Switzerland. This isn’t the same as travel insurance though; it won’t cover you for (among other things) theft, cancellation, liability, medivac, or accommodation or family visit expenses should you end up stuck hospitalized abroad.
Why can’t I use the insurance I have at home?
Unfortunately, insurance in your home country typically doesn’t cover you abroad. So if you’re on the National Health System in the UK, for example, that’s not going to help you in Bolivia or Vietnam. Even private medical insurance is typically valid in your home country only.
Something happens — now what?
You usually just get a policy plan sent to you via email, with a policy number, and the number of a 24-hour helpline. Call the helpline if something happens, as they can then give you instructions on what to do. For medical issues, they often have their preferred doctors or hospitals.
In any case, keep any receipts, and get a police report in case of theft. You can submit a claim later, or after your trip, detailing what happened and what you had to pay for. If accepted and it’s within your policy, the insurer will then reimburse you.
What’s the best long term travel insurance?
If you’re going to travel for several months, or maybe going on a round-the-world or gap year trip, then you should get insurance that is appropriate for such trips. Many annual travel insurance packages have a trip length limit of just 30 days, which won’t be enough!
If you’re traveling for a while then you’ll probably like Heymondo. It has single-trip insurance, as well as long stay insurance and annual multi-trip insurance (with a generous maximum trip length of 120 days). You can start a policy or extend one when you’ve already left your home country, which is great if you don’t know how long you’ll be traveling for. With Heymondo, there are no deductibles.
What’s the best insurance for digital nomads?
If you’re a digital nomad, I recommend Safety Wings. You can get a policy with them that can continue indefinitely. Unlike some other plans, you can also start before or after you leave. They also cover visits to your home country, which is a unique feature not found with other insurers.
If you’re younger, Safety Wings will be especially cheap. It’s just $40 for a month if you’re under 40, for example. However, there is a catch: Safety Wings has a $250 deductible (meaning you have to pay this before Safety Wing starts paying you) and the maximum claim limits are lower than with more complete insurance such as World Nomads or Heymondo. It’s a good option if you travel continuously, as then Safety Wing will be a lot more affordable to pay on an ongoing basis.
You can get a quote here:
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