Travel insurance is the one thing you should never leave home without. When planning a trip, it’s easy to think about all the important things to pack, what visas you might need, and where you should book your hotel.
Unfortunately, many people skip travel insurance because they think it’s too expensive or they don’t need it. After all, trips are expensive so you can skip travel insurance and save some money, right?
Wrong! You really should buy travel insurance before you go anywhere. For me, it’s the first thing I buy after booking my plane ticket, long before I leave for my trip!
Travel insurance exists to help you out of really bad situations. We like to think that our vacations will go swimmingly and everything will be perfect. The reality is that anything can happen when you’re exploring a foreign country. So, it’s better to protect yourself and your belongings before something catastrophic happens that ruins your trip.
Learn from my experiences and make sure to book travel insurance anytime you travel!
Why Do You Need Travel Insurance?
Simply put, you need insurance to stop you from losing loads of money or having a terrible trip – or both. Travel insurance is mainly there to cover you if something goes wrong.
Unfortunately, I have several personal examples when I’ve had to use travel insurance so I will always make sure I am fully covered before travelling anywhere. Learn from my past mistakes so you don’t do the same!
If You Get Hurt
Last year in Austria I was on a girls ski trip when I took a bad fall and wound up tearing several ligaments in my knee. Not the best way to start a ski trip!
While I was in physical agony, I spared my bank account from feeling the pain because my travel insurance covered everything to get me back home, including my ambulance to the hospital, a ticket for my husband who flew in from LA to help me and a row of 3 seats all to myself on my flight back to England so I could keep my leg elevated!
Medical bills can pile up quickly, especially when overseas. Living in Bali meant I heard horror story after horror story of people being seriously injured riding motorbikes, and 9 out of 10 of these people didn’t have travel insurance (or a motorcycle license). Those medical bills can add up real fast, especially for serious injuries.
Be smart, book travel insurance, and don’t ride motorbikes in Bali (but that’s a story for another time).
If A Family Member Gets Sick
My husband had a similar need for travel insurance when his Mom had a stroke. We were on the island of Lombok off the coast of Bali when he got word his Mom was in the hospital.
We immediately went to the airport and booked multiple flights without even looking at the cost, going from Lombok to Kuala Lumpur to Seoul and eventually to Los Angeles.
Without travel insurance, these same-day flights across the world would have cost thousands, but because he was insured we paid absolutely nothing to get home as quickly as possible (and his Mom has made a full recovery!).
Pro-Tip: Check that your coverage includes a companion. On this example having a companion on the policy meant we could fly together and I was also covered on his policy, and for the ski accident his flights were covered from Austria back to the UK since I could not travel alone.
If Your Bag Goes Missing
On my trip to Israel, my bag didn’t make the journey. It’s an awful feeling being in a new country without your things, but because I had travel insurance I was able to go on a mini shopping spree to Mango and Zara to replace all of my items with an allowance for every 24 hours the bag was missing.
While you never want your bag to miss your flight, travel insurance means you can get reimbursed for any items you need to replace. Luckily, my bag (eventually) made the trip, but if it had been lost forever I would have received additional money from my travel insurance to replace my missing items.
If You Lose Or Damage Your Electronics
When we were in Brazil, my husband accidentally dropped our GoPro into the ocean where it promptly sank. Instead of having our trip ruined without our awesome GoPro footage, we were able to put in a claim and got reimbursed the full amount he paid for the GoPro.
We were worried that they might not cover the GoPro because we had no actual proof it sank outside of our word, but World Nomads gave a full reimbursement, no questions asked!
The same goes if you break or have your electronic item stolen. Imagine dropping your laptop or phone while traveling, or someone steals it out of your room while you’re gone for the day. Not only would you be stuck without one of your key devices to keep in touch, but you would also be on the hook for an expensive replacement without travel insurance.
Travel insurance might seem expensive, but as my several above examples show, it’s well worth the cost. As the old saying goes, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Travel insurance gives you one less thing to worry about, allowing you to fully enjoy yourself while you’re away.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
I think the best way to understand the importance of travel insurance is to look at what it covers. Now, your coverage will depend on the provider you’re chosen.
What’s more, you can tailor your plan to your own requirements. So, you may only want to be covered for a few of these things, or you could go for everything.
Regardless, it helps to see how travel insurance can protect you while you’re abroad. Here’s what’s covered:
What happens if you lose your passport or visa while traveling? You’ll be stranded with on way of getting home.
Losing your passport can (and does) happen all too frequently. All it takes is a split second for your passport to fall out of a bag and be lost forever.
So, it’s comforting to know that travel insurance can cover any lost documents and help send out replacements right away. Your travel insurance can work with the local embassy for the country you are in to get you a replacement passport as fast as possible. This way, you can continue traveling or find your way home with minimal stress.
Lost Luggage and Delayed Luggage
As I touched upon earlier, if you lose your luggage, then travel insurance can be your best friend. You will be reimbursed for your personal belongings, and this doesn’t just apply to items that are lost. If your bags get stolen or damaged during your travels, then your insurance kicks in to help you out in these situations too.
Wait, it gets better!
Travel insurance also covers any delays to your luggage. Sometimes, your bags can end up on the wrong flight, so you’re stuck without them for a few days.
Obviously, this is a significant problem, especially if you’ve brought specific items on your trip. If your bags are temporarily lost, your insurance provider can give you money to buy what you need until your bags are returned. Again, this can be an absolute lifesaver for you.
Many people assume that their normal health insurance plan or credit card insurance at home will cover you when you travel. Realistically, very few will do this. That means it’s absolutely essential you have travel insurance to provide protection in case there are medical emergencies during your travels.
As I mentioned before, if you end up in an accident (like my ski trip) or get sick while you’re away, then travel insurance can cover the medical expenses. Without this, you will end up paying a lot of money in overseas medical bills.
In fact, it can sometimes be so expensive that some people choose to avoid treatment altogether. Needless to say, this is ill-advised!
Get insurance, and you don’t have to worry.
Most people think of insurance as something you need to get just before you travel, since it covers your bags and any potential medical issues that arise on the trip. But in fact, booking insurance as soon as you book your trip is key.
Something outside of your control may happen that prevents you from attending your trip, such as a broken bone or illness – without insurance you would lose the cost of your flights or non-refundable hotels.
But, with a travel insurance policy, you’re covered. If your trip gets canceled for reasons beyond your control, then you can get compensation to cover the cost of your expenses.
The same goes for flights or other modes of transport that get canceled. You will be covered and reimbursed to ensure you don’t lose any money.
All manner of cancellations are covered by your insurance provider. This includes when your travel provider goes out of business. Let’s say you book a flight with a provider, then they go bankrupt before your trip.
Think that sounds unlikely? It literally just happened with Thomas Cook, which stranded thousands of travelers abroad when they suddenly went bankrupt. Your insurance pays for the flights and ensures you’re not left out of pocket.
Again, another anecdote from me – I had an aborted landing on the island of Donsol, Philippines and our flight went right back to Manilla (something as a nervous flyer I did not enjoy!). We had to book a hotel for the night and rebook flights the next day, all of which was covered by our insurance company.
Adventure and Sports Coverage
In some cases, you might plan to get a bit wild on your travels. Some of you may enjoy doing various sporting activities that can be quite adventurous or risky. Think ATVs, diving, waterskiing, or alligator wrestling (probably not that last one but you get the idea).
As a result, it’s helpful to know that you can add sports coverage to most travel insurance policies. This will protect you if you’re injured while playing sports on your travels.
Also, this coverage can also help you if you lose any sporting equipment – like golf clubs or skis. If you travel with expensive equipment or are planning to do some higher risk activities, make sure to choose the higher plan so you are covered.
What Are The Best Travel Insurance Companies?
As you can see, travel insurance covers so many different things. So, now that you are definitely booking it for your next trip (right?!), what are the best travel insurance companies?
Personally, I recommend either World Nomads or Safety Wing. They both have excellent travel insurance products and are backed by loads of fantastic reviews.
World Nomads travel insurance is both simple and flexible. As mentioned, you should buy it before you set off on your vacation.
However, they make life easier by letting you buy insurance while you’re already abroad too. This is great if you’re away right now and realize you need travel insurance! Or, it means you can top up your insurance if it runs out.
There’s 24/7 emergency assistance as well, so you can contact them whenever any issues arise. I think this is crucial as it means you can try and get things sorted as soon as possible.
As far as coverage goes, you’re looking at the following things:
- Emergency medical expenses
- Baggage & personal belongings
- Trip Curtailment
- Personal Accidents
- Loss of travel documents
- Personal liability
- Legal expenses
They also over coverage for over 200 different adventure activities and sports. So, if you’re doing a specific type of activity, you can take out a policy that protects you.
The cost of your insurance plan will depend on various factors. It’s easy to get a quote, just fill out the form below detailing where you’re traveling, where you’re from, how long you plan on traveling for, and your age. Then, you’ll get displayed a quote instantly where you can book and be covered.
Safety Wing is another popular provider thanks to its affordable options. You can receive travel insurance from as little as $37 for 4 weeks.
Again, you can buy it before you fly, or when you’re abroad. I like that visits back to your home country are included as well. So, you’re insured if you pop home for a couple weeks and end up injured or lose your belongings!
You get lots of coverage with Safety Wing as well, including all of the following:
- All your medical expenses
- Trip interruption
- Travel delay/cancelation
- Lost luggage
- Natural disaster
- Political evacuation
- Emergency medical evacuation
- Personal liability
- Accidental death & dismemberment
Safety Wing is particularly useful for US travelers because they are one of the only insurers that provide temporary coverage if you are back in the US in between trips. For every 90 days of coverage, you can receive 15 days of coverage at home.
So say you spend 1 month in Europe, come back to the US for 2 weeks, then head to South America for another month. While most providers wouldn’t cover you during your 2 weeks at home, and might even say you need a new policy for your next trip, Safety Wing has you covered the entire time.
Either of these two providers will be a fantastic choice for you. My advice is to go to both websites, fill in the inquiry forms, and see who offers the best quote for the coverage you need.
If you are traveling with expensive items or want coverage for higher risk activities, then I would recommend World Nomads. If you are looking for cheaper coverage mainly for medical and trip cancellation, or you plan on spending some time at home between trips, then check out Safety Wing.
If like me, you carry expensive photography equipment then you will likely find that most travel insurance policies won’t cover you for the full value of your equipment and quite likely they will have limits on how much each individual item can be valued at. Therefore it’s key to take out separate insurance coverage for your expensive photography gear.
I personally use PhotoGuard to cover all my items including my cameras, lenses, GoPro, drones, and accessories, memory cards, batteries etc. What I like about this is I can enter the model number for each of my items and the value and get coverage to exactly match the total value of all my equipment.
I have not had the need to use the policy to date, so I can’t vouch for their customer service or how easy it is to get paid in the event something happened or anything was stolen – but in terms of the coverage and price I have been happy with them.
Travel Insurance Wrap Up
No one thinks they will ever need insurance, but it is one of the most important things to book for your trip. It gives you peace of mind knowing that if someone does go wrong, you’ll be covered and won’t put added stress on yourself or your family.
We take travel insurance so seriously that we require all of our guests coming on one of our Travel Girls Getaways to book it and send confirmation that they have coverage before attending one of our trips!
So please, spend a little extra money and book travel insurance for your next trip. I hope you’ll never need it, but I promise you will be very thankful you have it if you do!
I hope that this article has helped you to understand why you need to book travel insurance. If you have any questions at all or have your own tips to share please leave these in the comments below.
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We Are Travel Girls Founder Becky van Dijk of BeckyvanDijk.com
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