Insurance. Whilst not a conversation-squasher like religion or politics, it’s one topic that people really don’t like to talk about. But leave home without travel insurance, especially if you’re an adventurous traveller, and you might just regret the decision.
As frequent travellers, we’ve run into our fair share of delayed flights and changed plans, but thankfully we haven’t had any life-changing issues occur whilst on the move. We’re lucky, though. A friend recently broke his leg on a backcountry ski trip. The helicopter evacuation off the mountain alone was over $10,000.
Is this type of situation rare? Of course it is. But do you really want to remortgage your house for the sake of a few hundred dollars in insurance? I didn’t think so.
What to look for when shopping for a travel insurance policy:
- Does it cover the activities you want to participate in?
If you’re reading this blog, it’s likely you love snorkelling, zip-lining, skiing. You agree that life just isn’t worth living unless you’ve got adrenaline pumping through your veins. But these activities carry a degree of risk, and many insurance companies won’t cover accidents that occur whilst doing them, which makes that insurance policy altogether pointless.
Your insurance coverage should specifically list any activities you plan on doing. (For example, medical hyperbaric chamber treatment should be covered by your policy if you are scuba diving.)
We generally chose travel insurance from WorldNomads.com. It’s available to people from 140 countries and is specifically designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.
- Is it cost effective?
Shop around. For our upcoming trip to Alaska, we received quotes from a dozen different companies ranging from $250 to over $1000. At the lower end of the scale, the policies would only pay a small percentage of our overall trip cost. At the higher end, it seemed like extra expense for no extra value.
We ended up somewhere in the middle – paying around $400 for a policy that covered the four of us for four weeks in Canada and Alaska with trip cancellation up to $10,000.
- Is the company good with people?
We’ve all heard the horror stories about insurance companies refusing to pay out, or giving customers a royal run-around with their claim process. Before you buy, check out reviews from real people, preferably those who have made a claim. Ensure that the insurer offers 24/7 emergency support – Murphy’s Law will dictate that if you have issues, it won’t be during regular working hours.
If you’re travelling on a flexible schedule, ensure that your plan allows you to buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. (If you’ve already started your trip and don’t have insurance, check to see if you can still be covered. Some insurers require you to purchase a policy before making any purchases on a trip, others require insurance to be in place before you leave. World Nomads is one of the few that allows you to buy a policy if you’re already travelling.)
- Look at the fine print
Like any insurance policy, your travel policy will have a ton of fine print. Some won’t cover valuables in a car, even if the car is locked. Others won’t pay out for delayed travel if the airline gave you a $5 Starbucks voucher as compensation (yes, this happened to me once). Sometimes valuable items (like cameras) need to be listed and insured separately.
Read the terms and conditions carefully rather than just blindly mashing the “I accept” button on the website.
- Pregnant? Think carefully.
If you are pregnant, think VERY carefully about travelling outside your home country, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. Pregnancy is usually considered a “pre-existing” condition and is excluded from travel insurance medical coverage, even if premature labour is brought on by a covered condition (such as infection or illness). Once born, the baby is NOT covered by the mother’s travel insurance.
If you happen to deliver a child prematurely, you could be looking at over $1million in costs. Yes, even if you have travel insurance.