Part 1: Healthy Travel Series
We are starting the Healthy Travel Series with travel insurance because often when you first book or plan your trip, you need to make a decision about travel insurance.
Do you need travel insurance? Yes you do is the basic answer. This is a question we get asked a lot. There are a lot of products out there, a lot of options and a lot of fine print.
We don’t have all the answers, but we are going to share what we have learned about travel insurance and what works for us. We cannot recommend what might work for you, you need to read the policy and decide if the coverage offered meets your needs and is appropriate for you and your circumstances.
If you read the first post announcing this series, Healthy Travels: What you need to Know, I talk a little about some of the things that can and do go wrong, including sharing a few things that have happened to us.
In my opinion the whole point of trip or travel insurance is not to need to use it! However should you ever need it, you want it to cover you and your mishap. So therefore you need to know about travel insurance.
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Travel insurance can cover a lot more than getting sick or having an accident while traveling. Depending on the policy it can cover you for getting sick or having an accident that prevents you from being able to undertake your trip as well. Some policies also cover travel delays, losing your personal belongings and a variety of other scenarios.
Are you covered?
So you have decided on your destination, you are ready to book tickets, tours, cruises, whatever the case may be. Stop! This is the first opportunity to be aware of insurance. Most flight bookings, cruises, tours ask you if you want to take out trip insurance at the time you purchase. This is one opportunity to purchase insurance but the second chance also has to do with how you pay for your purchase!
- Opportunity 1: Insurance offered at the time of booking. ALWAYS read the terms of the policy. Ticking this and thinking you are covered may be a big mistake. These are usually limited policies covering limited events. i.e the cruise operator cancels the cruise. Does it cover if you get sick and can’t go, or a family member is ill, if you lose your job? These are reasons people sometimes need to cancel. So read what you are agreeing to and decide if it is the cover that is appropriate for your needs. The insurances are all slightly different and you need to read the terms and conditions to know what is covered. Let me repeat that advice: READ the travel insurance policy to learn what is included and excluded.
- Opportunity 2: Often times paying for a tour, flight or cruise with your credit card offers you travel or trip insurance. Again it varies by card type and/or issuer but this may offer you enough insurance. American Express and some gold or platinum Master Cards and Visas offer insurance. Airline cards or cards created specifically for travelers may also. This can save you a lot of money. We have a couple of credit cards and as long as we buy our initial round trip airfare on the card or pay for the tour, cruise or whatever, and travel for less than 365 days, it offers a pretty decent level of travel insurance at no cost to us. But again, you need to always READ the terms and conditions and decide if it is appropriate for your needs.
- If you are traveling domestically, your normal health insurance policy may cover you for accidents or illness and you may decide no additional health insurance is needed. This won’t however cover you if the flight is canceled or delayed, your luggage is lost or any number of other issues.
When to Buy Travel Insurance?
If those coverage options above do not meet your needs, you can look for a third party that issues travel insurance. We always have travel insurance. However we do not always purchase travel insurance from a third party. Here are times and reason when we have needed to buy a travel insurance policy:
- When our credit card won’t cover us.
- When we are going to undertake activities that are not covered i.e. high risk on our other insurance options. Examples of this include activities like snow sports, some water sports, high altitude hiking and a few others. Again you need to read the fine print.
- When the healthcare system is not of an international standard and/or you are traveling to remote areas where if something happened to you, you might need to be evacuated and/or transported back to your home country.
- Where we are going to make large deposits or non-refundable payments not covered under the terms of our travel insurance on our credit card. A third party insurance policy can cover these out of pockets expenses should you need to cancel. Sometimes when you have booked and paid for an expensive trip, with multiple suppliers the best option is a third party policy.
Some Questions to Ask before you Buy Travel Insurance
So a quick checklist before you book anything and before you buy a policy:
- What coverage is available to you through your credit cards?
- What coverage is offered by whoever you are booking with (i.e. the cruise line, the airline)?
- What might happen? What could go wrong and what kind of help would you need?
- Are you undertaking risky activities or traveling to remote areas? i.e. paragliding, high altitude hiking, skiing
- Does your normal health insurance cover you where you are traveling?
If you want to buy an insurance policy we have used Travel Insurance from World Nomads. And in case you are wondering, yes, we have had to make a claim (to return home quite suddenly when we had a death in the family). We called the helpline, they told us to book what we need to book, go home and if we decided to return (we did as we were 1 month into a 5 month trip) they would pay the cost to return to continue our trip. We made our arrangements, filed the claim and were reimbursed all out of pockets costs we incurred getting home, changing our bookings and getting back to continue the trip.
If you are going to buy a policy, always read the details and make sure you understand the inclusions and exclusions. The best time to buy the policy is at the same is when you book the trip. Coverage usually starts when you buy the policy, so if you need to cancel the trip, you are covered. If you buy it right before your leave home, if something happens between when you booked the trip and when you buy insurance you are not covered.
World Nomads plans can cover you for long periods of time, i.e. over 365 days, cover you for multiple regions and cover “risky” activities. It is travel insurance designed for travelers (not to cover tour operators). You specify the coverage you need at the time you purchase the policy.
If you would like to get a quote or review their terms and conditions you can find more information about Travel Insurance from World Nomads on their site. If you would like to get a quote, you can use the quote box at the bottom of this post. ALWAYS read the terms and conditions of the policy wording/description of coverage and decide if the policy is right for you.
I looked around extensively at travel insurance and I have been happy with our choice, and if you find yourself in need of travel insurance check to see if World Nomads products are right for you.