Travel Insurance: Should I, Shouldn’t I?

 
“Have you got travel insurance?”. It’s the one question you’re always asked. By the travel agent, by the airlines’ website, by your mother. Some travellers won’t board the plane without it while others see it as a necessary evil. The fine print can be downright confusing and the cost of buying travel insurance is so darn expensive, and for what? If you’re still sitting on the fence, we’ve covered a few of the ins and outs that may help you make a more informed decision for your next holiday.
Jasmine hiking in the Atlas mountains, Morocco

IS IT NECESSARY TO BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE?

What, Why, Where

Travel insurance is there to protect you should something go wrong during your holiday, or before as we’ll discuss further on. It’s essentially a gamble that you take – everything can go smoothly and you rage at the fact that you’ve forked out money on something that you haven’t actually “used”. But should an unexpected turn of events take place leaving you stranded, inconvenienced or injured, you’ll undoubtedly be thanking the heavens.

Travel insurance is valid for international and domestic travel with varying levels of cover depending on the activities you take part in during your holiday, the length of your trip and the destinations that you travel to.

DID YOU KNOW? – Travel insurance is more expensive when travelling to the USA because of the country’s high medical costs.

Bevan taking in the views with his snowboard at Val Thorens, France
Signs in the ski fields at the top of Val Thorens, France

Included or Excluded

It is imperative that you read the fine print and understand what is included and excluded under your travel insurance policy. If you need specific coverage for an activity or particular destination, make sure to check with your provider whether it is covered. We’ve summarised some of the more common items that are included or excluded in standard travel insurance policies. These inclusions often come with limits, so as always, read the fine print. Excluded options can be added to a policy depending on the provider and activity.

INCLUDEDEXCLUDED
Cancellation, curtailment and trip interruptionPre-existing medical conditions
Lost, stolen or damaged baggage, personal effects or travel documentsHigh risk sports (scuba diving, skiing)
Medical treatmentIncidents involving alcohol and/or drugs
Travel delays due to weatherRental car coverage
Repatriation of remains Some cancellations

Travel Insurance Lingo

  • Excess: The excess (or deductible) is the agreed amount you must pay towards any claim that you make on your policy. The remaining amount is paid by your travel insurance provider up to the limit of your cover. The excess will often be variable. If you choose to reduce your excess, you will pay more when purchasing your policy.

    Example - Your excess is £300. Your DSLR camera is stolen whilst holidaying in Barcelona. The camera is brand new and you purchased it for £750. You submit a claim to your travel insurance provider. You will receive £450 back from the travel insurance provider (£750 - £300).
  • Premium: This is the cost of the insurance policy that you select and is the amount you will pay to your travel insurance provider. The cost of your premium will vary depending on a number of variables including (but not limited to): country or countries you travel to, length of trip, extras such as snowboarding or scuba-diving and pre-existing medical conditions. The more comprehensive your cover, the higher your premium tends to be.
  • Claim: The policyholder will make a claim to the travel insurance provider to recover an amount for their loss or inconvenience. The amount of the claim is dependent on the selected excess, policy limits and other terms and conditions. A claim will require the policyholder to submit a form and evidence to support their claim. Each claim is individually assessed.

    It is important for travellers to understand the timeframe of when a claim can be lodged after the incident or inconvenience occurs. This may affect your eligibility to reimbursement or compensation.
  • Pre-existing medical condition(s): Any condition for which symptoms were present and the person sought and/or received medical advice or treatment prior to taking out the travel insurance policy.
  • Repatriation: To return to one’s own country. When you take out an insurance policy, you will be asked for your Country of Residence. This is important in the event of medical emergencies but usually refers to the return of your remains in the unfortunate event of death.
Jasmine on the edge of Trolltunga taking in the view over the fjord - Norway

Cover Me Up

Your choice of cover will vary depending on the duration of your holiday, the frequency of your trips and the type of activities you wish to participate in. Here are some factors for your consideration:

  • Single-Trip: Quite self-explanatory, really. The travel insurance policy will cover you for a single trip from start to finish. Again, make sure to read the fine print. Most policies we have encountered stipulate that a single trip can be no longer than 30 or 45 days.
  • Annual Multi-Trip: For frequent travellers, an annual multi-trip policy may be the best option for you. If you plan on taking more than two trips in a year, evaluate the cost of a multi-trip policy compared to multiple single trip policies. When we were European residents, this type of insurance policy provided efficient, cost-effective cover for several trips within and across continents.
  • Sports/High Risk Activities: Any activity where there is a higher element of risk will always cost extra. Activities such as skiing, snowboarding, scuba diving and mountain climbing will have an additional premium regardless of whether you choose a single-trip or multi-trip insurance policy. Some businesses will also require proof of your travel insurance before partaking in a high risk activity so make sure to check beforehand if you know which operator you’ll be using on your trip.

Who To Choose?

There are so many travel insurance providers that choosing a policy can be a daunting task.

Travel agents and banks can help you navigate the murky terms and conditions and fine print. Alternatively, specialist insurance companies such as Worlds Nomads and Covermore offer relatively clear and comprehensive travel insurance policies. In addition, these companies are likely to be able to provide guidance on customising more niche travel insurance policies. Most providers will have phone, online and/or 24-hour assistance. Do your research and ensure you’re choosing the appropriate cover for YOU.

Bevan walking on a frozen canal in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

When To Purchase Travel Insurance

Don’t leave it to the last minute. It is recommended that you buy your travel insurance policy after you’ve booked any non-refundable components of your trip. Policies generally include coverage for cancellation costs due to unforeseen circumstances. This may include sudden illness or injury, natural disasters, strike or lost passports. There are also specific exclusions that you will need to review.

Should I, Shouldn’t I?

Ultimately, the choice is yours. While it is an extra expense, we personally wouldn’t overlook it in a hurry. The level of coverage that you choose for your travel insurance may vary depending on your risk profile. If you are generally healthy, travelling for a short period of time and visiting a low-risk country, you may deem travel insurance unnecessary. If you are the type of person to worry about the worst happening, you’re likely to take out a policy with more comprehensive coverage.

For us, travel insurance provides us with peace of mind. Having travel insurance could be the difference between a disrupted holiday and a nightmare that you never want to relive. Ask questions and ensure you understand the details before you enter into any agreement.

Strolling through Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Disclaimer
We are not and do not claim to be experts on travel insurance policies. Any information provided in this blog post should be considered general in nature. Please ensure that you seek professional and legal advice from a registered insurance provider.

What are your views on travel insurance? Have you had a memorable travel insurance claim experience? Feel free to share your comments and stories below!

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Walking past a blue facade in Chefchaouen, The Blue Pearl, Morocco
A couple sitting on the edge of an empty pool surrounded by palm trees, Morocco

2 thoughts on “Travel Insurance: Should I, Shouldn’t I?”

  1. Personally I feel if you can’t afford travel insurance, you shouldn’t travel!!!

    We’ve only made 2 claims throughout our travels.

    The first was for a Bali trip about 7 years ago, the Australian airline we’d booked with went bankrupt 2 weeks before our holiday was due to begin…. it was a $3,000 holiday so we were extremely lucky to have travel insurance – nothing changed except the airline and a $250 excess.

    2nd claim was a little more traumatic – during a cruise to PNG earlier this year, whilst bushwalking on an isolated island, I dislocated my ankle which caused me to fall and break my leg in 3 places…. this was a 4 hour rescue mission with tractor/trailer, the local’s fishing tinny to get me back to the cruise ship where I was hospitalised onboard for 2 days resulting in a $7,000 medical bill. The next few days the hospital staff suggested they move me to a larger stateroom as roomier and more comfortable than the cabin we’d booked as they warned us that keeping me in the ship’s hospital would be extremely pricey …. we were too far from the mainland to be medivac’d off the ship.

    So YES YES YES you need travel insurance, you never expect anything to happen to you whilst you’re on holidays but it can; we’ve travelled for over 20 years to over 35 countries and in that time we’ve only made these 2 insurance claims but imagine if we’d had to pay that $7,000 out of our pocket, wouldn’t make us too keen to travel overseas again.

    Reply
    • We strongly feel the same way about travel insurance! We also personally won’t travel on long, risky adventures without it. Jas is a worrywart anyway!! We have heard way too many terrible, unfortunate stories like yours to risk it and we don’t doubt that there are plenty of others that feel the same! 🙂

      Reply

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