What’s the deal with travel insurance? It’s a common question for every traveler. Is the most popular, World Nomads travel insurance really the best?
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What if I told you there’s a good chance you already have travel insurance?
We all love planning a big trip. Researching the where, the how, the food, and the what to do is the fun part. Even booking a ticket, despite the cost, can be fun as it seals the deal.
Well it goes without saying that not too many people get excited over travel insurance. We have insurance for everything else but do we really need it for our travels?
Travel insurance actually does quite a bit. Here are a few things it can help you with.
- Luggage gets delayed, lost or stolen, no problem
- Got sick or sliced your foot open on the beach, yup covered
- Need to cancel your trip because an 8.0 earthquake just leveled your destination, that’s covered as well
- Computer stolen while you visit the restroom, covered
- The subway car door smashes your camera as you cram inside, covered
- Family emergency back home, you guessed it, covered.
All of these things could potentially put a damper on your trip. If any of these did happen, a little insurance would go a long way in making things better.
YOU MAY ALREADY HAVE TRAVEL INSURANCE
What if I told you there’s a good chance you already have some form of travel insurance. Let’s have a look so you don’t pay for something you already have.
TRAVEL CREDIT CARDS
Travel credit cards offer a lot of travel benefits that most people forget they even have. Many cards will cover you for recent purchases if they are stolen or damaged. Some will even extend manufacturer warranties should something break.
When was the last time you reviewed your credit card benefits?
Does your card cover you if:
- Luggage gets delayed
- Got sick or sliced your foot open on the beach
- Need to cancel your trip because an 8.0 earthquake just leveled your destination
- Computer stolen while you visit the restroom
- The subway car door smashes your camera as you cram inside
- Family emergency back home
Well, all but one of these are covered on my Chase Reserve card. Now, there is a ton of fine print with all of this stuff so do your homework.
While my Chase card covers trip cancellations due to severe weather, natural disasters, or even jury duty that you can’t get out off, it only covers you up to $10,000. Now that might be plenty for most trips but certainly not for all.
The Chase purchase protection (theft and damage) only covers you for 120 days after purchase. But heck that’s better than nothing. If you just picked up a fancy new camera before your month-long trip to Paris, you’re covered.
Regardless it’s time for you to review ALL your credit card perks.
Get ahold of your insurance agent and see what you’re covered for. When I called mine I learned that I have really good rental car insurance coverage and anytime I buy the extra coverage I’m just wasting money.
You may have coverage for theft or damage even when traveling outside the country.
This is a big one and if there’s only one thing you get from this article, you need medical coverage.
While it may suck to get your laptop or camera stolen that is something we can all recover from. A severe illness or injury while abroad can sink an average family.
The costs are only compounded by the fact that you might need a medical transport back to the states. We’re talking big money here.
Talk with your medical insurance provider and see what your coverage is for your travels. You might be surprised at what’s covered. In particular, I find that many companies include medical evacuation back to the U.S.
DO YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE HOMEWORK
So again, gather up all your credit cards, health insurance, home/renters insurance, even auto insurance and get an idea of the coverage you already have.
From here you can start making a list of things you aren’t covered well for. For me, I carry a lot of expensive camera and computer equipment that are not adequately covered by the above means.
Your needs will vary depending on where, how, and with what you travel. But do your homework as it will save you money.
BUT THAT’S TOO MUCH WORK
If this all seems like too much work then by all means just pick up some travel insurance. At just a few bucks a day the piece of mind will be worth it.
World Nomads travel insurance is hands-down the most popular travel insurance option. And rest assured it’s popular because it is outstanding travel insurance.
They have many different packages depending on your trip. For example scuba diving packages or equipment only options.
But if you want to maximize your travel dollars read on.
TRAVEL INSURANCE OPTIONS
The majority of travel insurance companies offer customization based on your specific needs. Just equipment coverage, no problem. Medical evacuation only, no problem.
World Nomads even has an adventure activities option that will cover you for things like bungee jumping. Read the fine print folks as many travel insurance companies won’t cover activities like these.
Or perhaps you just need equipment coverage. I’ll show you the best option for that as well.
NAVIGATING TRAVEL INSURANCE FINE PRINT
So get out that list of the specific coverage areas you think you need. From here let’s focus on those areas so we don’t get overwhelmed by the areas you don’t need.
GENERAL GUIDELINES FOR COVERAGE MINIMUMS
For Medical Coverage a $100,000 policy is a good place to start. This should at least get you stabilized until you can be shipped home where your primary insurance can kick in.
Medical Evacuation of $300,000 is a good place to start. This will cover you for medical evacuation needs during your trip and to get you back home.
Trip Cancellation coverage will really depend on your specific trip. A quick trip to Europe will likely be different than a month-long safari in Africa. Anywhere from $2,500 to $10,000 is a good place to start.
Trip Delay covers you for things like a forced overnight stay due to flight or weather problems. $500 to cover you for hotel and food is a good place to start.
The best thing for a delayed or cancelled flight is to always have an overnight bag with you. Check out my How To Pack Light tips and liberate yourself from all the “stuff.”
Baggage and Personal Effects loss. Again this will vary but at a minimum, I would shoot for $500.
This should get you in the ballpark and remember that you might not need all this coverage based on your existing insurance that you already have.
WHAT IS NOT COVERED
In general the following things are not covered. Again it’s important to have a look at that fine print. Some of the budget travel insurance plans will really limit their coverage.
- Injuries during extreme sports such as hang gliding or bungee jumping
- Pre-existing medical problems that aren’t emergent. If you have diabetes and need to see a doctor it won’t be covered unless it’s considered an emergency.
- Being careless with belongings that result in theft.
WHEN TO BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE
While it’s possible to buy travel insurance the day before your trip that’s not ideal and here’s why.
You can’t get travel insurance after something goes wrong. If a hurricane forces you to cancel your trip you would be covered for full reimbursement IF you purchased insurance before the hurricane but not after.
Same goes for health problems and family emergencies. So if you’re buying insurance be sure to get it early as it won’t cost you any more and will provide better coverage.
Planning a big trip? Check out these trip planning resources!How To Plan Your Best International Trip
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THE BEST TRAVEL INSURANCE OPTIONS
There are dozens of companies out there trying to get a piece of the pie. I have looked over many of these plans myself and have also extensively researched this topic amongst other travel professionals.
Here are 5 solid travel insurance companies that I would recommend.
1. WORLD NOMADS TRAVEL INSURANCE
The company that I typically use, as well as just about every other traveling fool out there, is World Nomads travel insurance. They do a good job of balancing benefits with cost and offer customizable plans so you aren’t wasting money on things you don’t need.
Their interface is easy to use even while traveling so you can make changes, payments, or extend coverage easily. They have a good claims track record and are endorsed by many large travel companies such as National Geographic.
World Nomads cost varies by location and duration but in general for their basic plan you’re looking at around $3-5/day. 3-weeks in Thailand for a 35 year old will run you around $90.
They also offer an Explorer package which ups your coverage across the board and will run you around $170 for this same trip.
2. ALPHA TRAVEL INSURANCE
Alpha Travel Insurance out of the U.K. is another good option and particularly for long-term travel (more than 3 months).
Alpha provides coverage for up to 24 months with plans for single-trip, multi-trip, and long-stay options. These long-term plans can get your costs WAY down. We’re talking well below a $1 a day!
The multi-trip is great for people that take several trips a year and will land you a reduced price.
They also let you pick options where you pay less initially but if you file a claim there is basically a claim filing fee. I kind of like these because you only pay when you actually need it.
3. STA TRAVEL INSURANCE IS NOW WORLD NOMADS **UPDATE**
STA Travel was recently taken over by World Nomads
4. IMG GLOBAL TRAVEL INSURANCE
IMG would be the right choice for persons living abroad or those who seek more traditional medical insurance while traveling, such as seeing a doctor for non-emergent issues.
IMG is a popular choice for full-time digital nomads and travelers living abroad as well as expats. Choosing between IMG and Alpha would be a difficult choice.
For equipment coverage there is no better option than InsureMyEquipment. This is what they do and they do it the best.
Staying safe while traveling is always your best betDon’t Be A Victim With These Proven Travel Safety Tips
IS TRAVEL INSURANCE WORTH IT?
In my honest opinion, yes it is. But more importantly do your homework and don’t double up on coverage you already have.
The piece of mind insurance provides goes a long way. Lost or delayed baggage is so common and that alone I’ve used multiple times.
I can’t tell you how many scooter crashes I’ve seen through Southeast Asia, I sure hope they had insurance.
I hope I’ve armed you with some tools to be smarter about your insurance and if nothing else at least you reviewed a few insurance policies that you haven’t seen in a while.