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Reader Question: When do you recommend travel insurance?

travel insurance for women

A wise friend once told me that if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. After many years of travel and mishaps, I agree with him. You may think that those big things couldn’t happen to you, like natural disasters, but what about something simple like getting pickpocketed or having your luggage lost?

A bit of extra money on the front end of your trip can save you a lot of money on the back end, but only if you purchase travel insurance.

What’s the Worst That Could Happen?

It’s easy to think that nothing major will happen when you’re traveling, especially if you’re going somewhere you consider to be “safe” like Europe or North America. But there are so many things that could go wrong that will be covered by travel insurance:

  • Your luggage could get lost on the way there.
  • Your flight could get canceled.
  • Your bag could be stolen from your feet on a long train ride.
volcano erupting
A volcano erupting could cause unforeseen problems, like getting stranded due to ash grounding flights!
  • A coup could erupt.
  • A volcano could spew ash and ground all flights.
  • Your home country could declare a travel warning for your chosen destination.
  • You could contract an illness and wind up in the hospital.

All of these things happened to me or friends of mine within the last few years, some with travel insurance and some without.

When I first traveled in Australia, a friend of mine had all his clothing stolen off a clothesline at a hostel in Noosa. That’s something you wouldn’t think about happening, but he had to call his travel insurance provider back home, who processed his claim and later reimbursed him for the costs of buying new clothes.

It’s the situations you don’t consider that become problematic.

My Personal Travel Dramas

I’ve had bad luck with travels, including contracting dysentery in Australia, food poisoning in Thailand and almost getting stuck in Bangkok during the military coup of 2014. I was in Turkey in between large scale protests and had allergic reactions in Thailand, Turkey and Germany.

Travel is full of unknowns and while I haven’t had to make a claim thanks to generous healthcare coverage in Australia and ease of gaining treatment at pharmacies, it gives me peace of mind to travel with insurance, especially when I think about the worst case scenario.

When Do You Need Travel Insurance?

You might be wondering how long a trip should be, or what destinations should be booked, before you need to get travel insurance. I recommend buying travel insurance for any trip outside of your home country.

And, it’s good to remember that you can still get travel insurance if you’ve already left on a trip – at least with World Nomads.

Most travel insurance providers start at one week worth of coverage. You can get this amount for generally around $50 for 7 days. If you’re traveling long term, you can regularly renew your insurance so that you’re covered for the entirety.

Considerations When Purchasing Travel Insurance

Consider what activities you’ll be doing abroad, as not all travel insurance covers adventure sports (or it needs to be added on). For example, World Nomads, my chosen provider, the Standard plan covers traditional sports and activities like canoeing and dog sledding, but the Explorer plan covers ballooning, abseiling, skydiving and scuba diving.

Items you want to check for in your chosen policy are:

  • emergency evacuation
  • trip cancellation, interruption or delay
  • coverage of baggage and personal effects

The deductible or coverage amount will differ by policy, but you want to make sure that if something bad happens, you can be taken to your home country for proper treatment.

There is also evacuation insurance that you may or may not book separately from your standard travel insurance. This covers what could potentially be a very expensive helicopter or plane ride from a remote destination to a medical facility. Consider this type of insurance if you’re doing something dangerous like climbing Mt. Everest, or planning to be in remote areas. MedJet Assist is just one company that provides this service.

Do I Really Need Travel Insurance?

You might be wondering about your personal health coverage and credit card travel insurance. Many travel credit cards also offer travel insurance, but it usually only covers items purchased with this card. Your health insurance in your home country may also cover something in other places, but you need to check before leaving the country.

How Do I Choose Travel Insurance?

Once you know what you want in travel insurance, you have to find which company and policy works best for your needs and your trip. InsureMyTrip is a good website to start with, as it provides information on dozens of providers and plans that you can compare.

World Nomads is popular among the backpacker crowd, as it provides insurance at a reasonable price and also gives back to local communities.

Have you ever purchased travel insurance? Were you glad you did?

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Melody says

    I buy travel insurance anytime I’m going to be out of the country more than a day. I really should even have it for the day trips to Michigan for skiing.

    Coverage for my 5 day trip to Chicago cost me $16. It was actually 6 days worth of coverage, just to cover coming home after midnight, and it only cost some extra change to add one more day. On my three trips to Ukraine I only had to buy insurance once because my benefits at work had some great travel coverage. The one time I had to buy it, it didn’t cost much. I typically buy the insurance from the company that we have house and vehicle insurance with.

    I haven’t had to use my insurance at all, but I have had some minor incidences. On one trip in Ukraine I was lucky enough to get a considerable jellyfish sting and sprain my ankle. The jelly sting was rather annoying, but not a medical concern. The sprained ankle was pretty bad, but I had my ankle brace with me and was able to tough it out.

  2. Leanne says

    Travel insurance saved my life in Australia. I had a DVT, which became a massive saddle pulmonary embolism…blood clot on my lungs. I wasn’t expecting to send 9 days in hospital on my trip, and I was blessed to fly home as a passenger, instead of as cargo. I am grateful to not have an appropriate $100,000 bill to pay…thank you to my insurance. Best money I spent for my trip, will never travel without insurance.

      • Leanne says

        Travel insurance was through RBC…Royal Bank of Canada Insurance. It was just under $500 for a full years coverage. I would have preferred to pay the funds and not use it, but so glad that I had it…they took care of everything, including sending a medical escort to travel home with me once I received medical clearance to fly. Very grateful to have that support on the trip home from Darwin, NT to Calgary, AB. ☺

  3. oziNYer says

    I was mugged in Dominica just 3 hours after arriving in the country. My travel insurance company were hopeless. They would not pay to replace the medicine that was in my stolen bag, nor would they cover the cost of replacing my cell phone, or costs for credit card replacement and bank fees. The only thing they would pay for was the actual bag and wallet – with a depreciated value of course. Luckily I wasn’t hurt and I was able to get my medication for about 70% less than it cost in the States.

    In September I was caught up in the migrant crisis in Vienna. All trains to and from Hungary were halted leaving me no way to get to my seminar. I had to purchase a very expense last minute airfare to Budapest. I tried to claim this from my credit card companies travel insurance and it was denied because the migrants were not a “natural disaster”. They did refund the cost of my rail ticket which was purchased with the card. The CC people were incredibly helpful and professional. I have no hesitation in using this insurance again and am using this card to book all travel.

    I think buying a policy only makes sense for me when I am going on an expensive tour (which rarely happens).

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