YES! YES! YES! There you go, an entire blog post with just one word. Seriously though, the simple answer to the question of travel insurance, is buy it, and pray to whatever god/hope that it turns out to be a waste of money that you never use.
Basically, my theory is it’s best to have and not use than not to have and need. Yes, it’s quite a bit to fork out for if you’re on a budget, but how much more will it cost if something goes wrong? A lot of people have the mindset of ‘but I won’t get ill/nothing bad will happen.’ But you really can’t guarantee that. You insure your car, health and house, so what’s the big deal about buying travel insurance?
Not only does travel insurance cover your health but also covers you against loss and theft, cancellation or having to cancel/interrupt your trip. And even better it’ll put your family’s minds at rest! You’re parents will stop nagging you…
As with anything though, make sure you go through the small print with a fine toothed comb. Make sure you’re covered for everything you intend to do. And shop around to get the best deal.
Be Prepared For The Worst
Alright, you’re going on a big awesome adventure and you don’t want to think about what might go wrong. So don’t think about it, just insure yourself against it!
You know when you walk around resorts and attractions in developed countries and there are barriers to stop you from going where you shouldn’t? Well developed countries don’t have that, they expect you to have common sense! Not to mention slips and trips are always a hazard, as long as you’re walking. Obviously you don’t want to sit in the hostel all day, so you’ll be walking around, seeing the sights. I fell off a kerb in Phuket and did my ankle in. (In hindsight I should’ve gone to a doctor, but I didn’t even though I had travel insurance. It swelled up and I could only wear loose trainers, and it’s never been the same since!).
Another consideration is you may have to fly home for something, curtailing or taking a break in your trip. It’s not nice to think about but a close relative may become seriously ill, be involved in an accident or even die. You’d want to be able to get back to them, right?
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
The following is in general and NOT a definite list that all insurers cover – Please read through your policy and small print carefully.
Generally this is medical emergencies, such as breaking a leg or similar injury. It can also cover illness on your trip, but generally won’t cover conditions that you already have. It can also cover you if you need to be evacuated i.e. Natural disaster.
This can cover you for loss or theft, or both. Be careful with this, make sure all your gear is covered, you may have to specify certain items. Also, check the wording as a lot won’t cover your valuable in dorm rooms, only in a locked safe etc. And if you get drunk and lose something, generally that’s your fault too!
Normally this covers you in the event of having to cancel your trip due to illness, family emergency, bereavement etc. But once again, check the policy wording!
This means if you have an accident and you are responsible, or if you cause damage. This generally does not cover you if you rent a car. It will normally cover your liability and legal costs.
Curtail/Interrupting Your Trip
Some insurers will let you go home early, for emergencies, but won’t cancel the insurance you don’t need, instead you can use it later. Check the small print on this one, and if your policy includes it full stop.
The Small Print
Always be sure to check your policy, with regards to your travel plans. Here are a few things to watch out for:
So insurers won’t cover you for activities they deem ‘dangerous’ such as skydiving, rafting, even hot air ballooning! Make sure you are covered for everything you intend to do. When me and Dave climbed Kilimanjaro we already had travel insurance with our bank account, however it didn’t cover us for the full climb. It only covered hikes up to a certain altitude. Luckily we realised with plenty of time to buy the correct insurance!
Per Item Limit
Check the maximum payout per item, some insurers can be quite stingy on this! You may have to cover your most valuable items separately. You don’t want to have your £1,000 camera damaged or stolen, only to find out your insurer only pays out £200 per item. Check before you buy!
This can be another one that is a pain to find out about after you’ve bought your insurance. The excess is how much you have to pay before the insurer pays out. Generally the lower your excess, the higher your premium, so I tend to go for a midway excess. It can be a tricky balance. But you want to avoid having, say £110 of gear stolen and your excess being £100 – there’s basically no point in claiming!
Many insurers assume you have a ticket home, so your insurance may be invalid without one. If you don’t have a ticket home read the small print with extra care before buying!
You don’t want to find out you’re in a country and covered for nothing! Check your insurance covers where you’re actually going!
Are you planning on working, volunteering or WWOOFing abroad? Make sure you’ve got the cover for that too!
With so much to check when looking for insurance, is it worth it? With how much it’ll cost, is travel insurance really needed? Personally, I’d always say yes. There’s no point risking it. You don’t want to have an accident and end up stuck, unable to get treatment or get home. Just be sure to check you are covered for everything you’re planning!