Getting Started: Travel Insurance

Before you go off into the world, it can be a good idea to purchase travel insurance for the duration of your travel (if you have a set time frame) or for a large chunk of time (six months at a time seems to be the cheapest) if you don’t have a set end date.

Travel insurance can cover a variety of things, but there are also things it won’t cover. If you have never been traveling before, either solo or with a partner, then it can be a nice thing to have. An affordable peace of mind. This isn’t to say veteran travelers don’t need insurance, but veteran travelers tend to travel with fewer things (thus less to lose), in safer areas, and don’t overestimate their abilities.

Looking for insurance? Here are some websites to check out:

• World Nomads: Probably the most popular for long-term and short-term travelers alike. Offering a variety of plans at fairly lost costs.

• True Traveller: The UK and European Union option to World Nomads.

• Insure My Trip: Tends to be better for short-term trips.

• Squaremouth: Policy comparison website.

• STA Travel: Student-oriented travel website that offers fares, tickets, and travel insurance.

These are just some of your options, should you choose to get insurance. And if you are considering it, I strongly recommend you check the policy to look for all loopholes and lapses in coverage. Even if the insurance company is ‘made by travelers, for travelers’ it’s still out there to make money by not fulfilling claims.

Some of the coverage options, you might notice, are incredibly in-depth, like offering dental care. But look into these options before purchasing. For instance, the dental coverage will only cover accidents like broken teeth. Not routine work or general check-ups for pain.

Most of the basic insurance plans don’t cover theft or loss of your gear. This is ‘your fault’ and therefore not covered. However, if it’s an airline’s fault, you are covered. (If you’re looking for theft coverage on gear, I discuss this more in the credit card chapter. Some cards offer Theft Protection.)

Personally, we don’t travel with insurance. We almost never check bags, so there’s little chance of losing them. If they’re stolen, and we need reimbursement, we can open a claim with our credit card. If we get hurt, it’s cheaper to pay out of pocket. Basically, if anything happens, we try to mitigate the damage ourselves. Personally, in the 7 years I’ve been traveling on-and-off, I’ve never been in a situation where I thought ‘Damn, I should have bought insurance.’

That being said, mountains of people have the exact opposite experience, and insurance can save their trip, or their entire bank account.

If you’re planning on doing anything physical (spelunking, surfing, rock climbing, etc.) then it can come in handy if something happens and you need major medical coverage, or a helicopter lift off the side of a mountain. Another reason you might want insurance is if you’re going to a country currently undergoing political or military strife, and you need money to cover cancelled flights, cancelled rooms, or an emergency flight out.

Do a little research before you go anywhere, and if you think you’ll need coverage because you’re doing something physical, or you might be in a country with lax safety regulations, then, go for it!

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