Choosing the right travel insurance can seem confusing as there are lots of options out there, and some might even think that they don’t need one.
However, Protection when getting sick, accidents, theft, and robbery are just a few reasons why you should always travel with travel insurance.
Having a comprehensive cover is essential. In this article, I’m sharing my best tips on how to find and choose the best travel insurance as well as what to look out for.
Why is Travel Insurance so Important?
First of all, you never know when an accident will happen, that’s why it’s called an accident. Also, you can’t predict if you’ll get sick while traveling or not, you can also take precautions to minimize your risks, but that might not always be sufficient.
That’s why you need valid travel insurance that got you covered for if something unforeseen happens when you’re abroad. During my 7 years of traveling, I’ve been fortunate for most of the time, but there have still been some occasions where my travel insurance has come to use.
For example, in Iceland, we rented a campervan and got hit by a truck. That could’ve gone really bad, but “luckily” it was only the side mirror that was broken into pieces. Another time, Christine got sick in Indonesia and we had to go to the hospital. Without our travel insurance that could’ve potentially been very expensive if she would have needed further hospitalization.
Also, you can’t really be sure that your stuff won’t be stolen while traveling, no matter what hotel you choose. I’ve had money and travel gear stolen from hotels ranging from 3-stars to 5-star hotels.
Travel insurance is a cheap way of protecting yourself in case something happens. It’s well worth the extra cost and only cost a few Euros per day. It’s stupid to be cheap when it comes to your own health.
What should be included in your travel insurance?
- The travel insurance should give you coverage in the majority of countries
- Coverage for stolen items or things that break should be included
- Medical emergencies or regular illness
- 24/7 hour customer service (you don’t want to talk to a robot while you’re bleeding out, at least not until robots are better than humans)
- A good trip cancellation protection
- Coverage for interruptions due to illness or other circumstances
- Legal fees and costs
- Coverage if the company that you booked with goes bankrupt
- Personal accidents
- Damage compensation for traumatic experiences such as robbery or assault
- That you should not have to pay huge expenses upfront (very important)
Make sure you’re not already covered by your home insurance
Some countries have pretty good home insurance that covers trips abroad as well. In my home country Sweden, almost all insurance companies will offer 45 days travel insurance with basic coverage included for free.
It’s also possible to add additional coverage to make it more comprehensive for adventure activities and certain types of trips. If you call your local insurance company, they will be able to tell what they can cover and what they don’t.
Also, don’t take their word for it, make sure that you get to see documents stating the facts.
Travel Insurance via your debit/credit card
Most debit and credit cards will offer some type of travel insurance when booking and paying half or 75% of the trip with the card. The majority of these travel insurance policies are more or less. If you are a plus customer or a VIP customer, the policy is likely to be more comprehensive.
As a regular customer, travel insurance by debit card usually provides compensation for delayed flights, lost/delayed luggage, trip cancellation and a certain amount of protection in case of accidents.
A lot of credit card companies offer insurances for rental cars, which can be very helpful. But again, I recommend checking this with your local bank, as all packages are different. Each bank can have its own policies despite offering Mastercard and Visa cards.
World Nomads Travel insurance
The number 1 travel insurance company for travelers by travelers. They have specialized in insurance towards backpackers, adventurers, digital nomads, and other frequent travelers. But just about any traveler could buy coverage from them.
Some of the highlights by using World Nomads:
- You can add cover while traveling
- Travel insurance made for travelers by travelers
- Covers 150+ adventure activities
- Your gear is protected
- Emergency Medical Transportation
- Trip Cancellation or interruption
- 24-hour assistance
- Emergency Medical Evacuation & Repatriation
- They also support local communities
You can read all about their policies here or get a quote below.
The Blue Card (EU)
If you’re an EU-citizen like me and travel within the EU-zone, then you can get medical treatment for the same price as the locals would at public hospitals. However, it won’t be valid at most private hospital facilities and it can only be used for urgent matters.
Additionally, the Blue Card won’t cover ambulance flights back to your home country. And it’s certainly not the same as a travel insurance policy. This is just a card for emergencies if you’re traveling within the EU and need urgent medical care.
You should always have additional cover from a reputable travel insurance company even if you’re just traveling within the European Union.
Travel Insurance and cancelation protection from tour operators
Many tour operators and airlines will offer cancelation protection when booking trips or flights. However, they are often worthless if you’re already covered. They are mainly there for companies to earn more money and don’t add any value if you already have travel insurance via your debit/credit card or home insurance policy.
Except for the obvious mistake to travel without insurance in the first place, there are also quite a few other common mistakes that I’ve seen or heard of from other travelers I’ve met along the road.
- Clicking yes on unnecessary travel insurance and cancelation insurance
- That they don’t double-check the maximum amount of compensation
- “Forget” to mention a disease/allergy when they sign up for the policy
- Doing activities that aren’t covered by the insurance policy
- They don’t read the fine print
- Forget to check how high the deductible is
- Getting drunk or using drugs (most insurance companies don’t offer compensation if something happens when you have been noticeably intoxicated or drug-induced)
- They keep important papers and receipts unorganized
- Don’t know how to apply for compensation if something happens
- Forget to check if every claim must be submitted individually or not
- Some believe that they can easily extend their coverage when they’re already abroad
With that said, perhaps the most common mistake of all is the fact that people compare travel insurance policies by their price as the only factor. What’s more important is to compare the actual cover and the limits that you get from the insurance company.
There are often many differences in the fine print and coverage between policies and insurance companies. That’s why it’s much better to compare the actual coverage rather than the price.
Remember to always choose a reputable insurance company with good reviews and happy customers. It’s your life and health we’re talking about. I vouch for World Nomads unless you have a better option from a local insurance company, then, by all means, go for that one.
Things that most policies don’t cover
- Accidents from extreme sports such as bungee jump, paragliding, rock climbing, etc.
- Accidents that happen when intoxicated by drugs and alcohol
- Reckless behavior will often result in no reimbursement
- Pre-existing conditions are almost never covered by any travel insurance policy
- Leaving valuables in plain sight or handle them with carelessness will leave you uncovered if theft happens
- Civil unrest and other force majeure events might leave you uncovered
Most travel insurance companies will offer additional coverage for a higher fee, but this is something that you must ask for when signing up. The majority of standard policies don’t cover the mentioned activities and situations.
Why you should buy travel insurance
You might be a lucky person and claim that it won’t happen to you, but the thing is that you never know, and it doesn’t have to be your fault.
Someone can hit you by accident when you cross the road or walking on the sidewalk, and even if it wasn’t your fault, you can still get injured and need surgery or at least visit a doctor.
Without any coverage, the costs can reach extortionate levels and worst-case scenario, you might not even be able to afford the surgery. This can lead to life-long debt or even worse, you might even die or get permanent injuries.
You can’t get travel insurance after something happens. As soon as you’ve booked a trip, you should make sure that you got a valid travel insurance policy from that date and for the whole duration of your trip.
Don’t make the mistake of traveling without coverage, it’s simply not worth the risk, especially since most policies cost less than 3-5 Euros per day.
If you need more suggestions on how to choose travel insurance, leave a comment below!