“Add travel insurance to this purchase?”
Sound familiar? Probably. Most of the time when we book a flight, hotel, rental car, etc. there is a little pop-up message just before confirming your payment. Would you like to purchase travel insurance? And I would put money on it that 99% of us say, “No, ma’am!”
I always thought that travel insurance was a big waste of money and was a scam. Why else would anyone be offering me something? Clearly, they’re out for blood.
But actually…travel insurance is not the giant scam that we all think it is. Turns out it’s actually a pretty great thing. I know, I know. I’m just as shocked as you are.
Before we get started, let me be honest and tell you that I’m not some insurance expert. I feel like I give some sort of disclosure on every single article. I just don’t want you to make a hasty decision based on an article here and then be upset with me if it doesn’t work out. Be sure to do your research before making any big decisions!
Ok. Now that my obligatory disclosure is out of the way…
Here’s why, yes, travel insurance actually is that big of a deal.
Most travel insurance will cover you if your trip is canceled for unforeseen reasons like bad weather or political unrest. If you travel on your own without insurance, you’d probably just be out of luck if your cruise is canceled due to the hurricane. Some companies will also cover you if you need to cancel the trip due to something like sickness or a death in the family. This fact alone would bring me enough peace of mind to go ahead and buy the insurance. Life is unpredictable and you never know when something crazy might happen. You might as well spend the money and cover your butt.
I studied abroad in Salzburg, Austria in 2013. While I was there, one of my friends, Doug, was taking a train solo to go meet some friends. He tucked his bag underneath his train seat and drifted off to sleep. An hour later when he woke up his whole freaking bag was gone! Right out from underneath him!
I tell this story not to scare you but to show you that the “it won’t happen to me” mentality isn’t always correct. Doug is a super smart, aware guy and his bag was literally right under his nose. I remember listening to him vent about what a nightmare it was working with his parents’ insurance company who was refusing to cover his stolen bag. If he had had travel insurance, they would have covered it no problem. Travel insurance will also cover things like a pickpocketed wallet or your gold necklace that was stolen from your hostel. Definitely worth it.
This is perhaps the most obvious reason to buy travel insurance. You’re covered if you get sick out of the country! While some of your domestic health insurance providers might cover you overseas, it probably is nothing comparable to what your travel insurance would cover. Plus your travel insurance can help you with the little stuff such as finding a doctor who speaks English in Thailand. Obviously, travel insurance will not cover a pre-existing condition but it will indeed cover you if you come down with a stomach bug after eating that funky cheese.
Another important reason to buy travel insurance is for the injury side of things. This is where things can get a little bit tricky since some injuries are more preventable than others. Your policy should break it down into line items about what activities are and aren’t covered. Your run-of-the-mill activities like hiking, surfing, yoga, or biking are almost always covered. If you’re going to be doing something a little more adventurous like ice climbing or skydiving, you may need to buy a more comprehensive policy but it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll find one!
The good news here is that if you get injured on the sketchy zip lining course in Croatia and end up in the hospital with a broken wrist, it doesn’t fall on you! Your travel insurance will cover it and you can focus on getting back out there.
Your policy will outline very specifically what other things are covered but it might also include things like trip interruption, trip delay, collision damage, and any number of other things. Shop around before settling on one policy and check the fine print for random things you may need to be covered!
As I said, I’m no expert when it comes to this stuff. I can say with a fair amount of certainty, though, that I will be buying travel insurance with World Nomads. On almost every article I’ve read about travel insurance, World Nomads has been mentioned. I’ve done a quick perusal of their policies and it sounds like a traveler’s dream. A week of insurance will only run around $75. I get kicked off my parents’ insurance plan in November so I will need coverage from November 2017 to May 2018 and even with such an extended period of time, coverage is still only around $450 which seems like a good deal.
In short….yes, travel insurance is really that big of a deal. I’ve met plenty of travelers who live by the phrase and say, “If you can’t afford insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” After doing my own research, I wholeheartedly agree!
Have you ever had something happen while traveling and needed insurance? What did you do? Let us know in the comments below!
-The Wayfaring Photographer