Travel insurance is one of the necessities of travelling. If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel. Not only does it give you a piece of mind and assurance in knowing you’re covered in an unfortunate event, it can also save you a lot of money.
Choosing travel insurance can be a daunting task! There are so many different insurance companies, and each insurance company has several different policies, with different inclusions and exclusions. Reading through each Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) can be a monotonous and confusing task. It might be tempting to just pick the cheapest travel insurance that’s available, however that’s not always the best option. The key is making sure you choose the best travel insurance for you and your trip, otherwise you risk wasting your money on something you can’t use.
To help you out with choosing travel insurance, we’ve come up with some key questions and hot tips to ensure you choose the best travel insurance for your trip.
Questions to ask yourself when choosing travel insurance:
- What countries are you travelling to? And, how long are you spending in each country?
The cost of the policy will often depend on what countries you are travelling to. If you are travelling in countries that don’t have a health agreement with your country of residence, or where medical expenses are high (such as the USA), then the policy will cost more. Some policies will determine this by how much time you spend in the country, others will determine it by what countries you go to (ie. even if you go to the USA for 1 day, you have to buy the policy that covers you for the USA to be covered).
- How long do you plan on being away for?
Some insurance policies have a maximum, policy duration (most are 12 months). Sometimes the policy can’t be extended pass this, and a new policy has to be bought if you do decide to stay longer.
- Are there any specific activities you’ll be doing?
Skiing, scuba diving, sky diving, bicycle touring, hiking above 2000m, renting a car – these are all activities that may or may not be covered in your policy. If there are specific activities that you plan on doing while you are away, confirm that it’s covered. You may also want to check whether these additional extras can be added on at a later date, or whether you have to include them when first purchasing the policy.
- Will you be returning to your home country during your trip?
If there is a chance you will be returning home, then you need to find out whether the policy void if you return home. Believe it or not, some policies end as soon as you return to your home country, even if it’s only for a couple of days. If you are planning on returning home frequently (such as, once every 90 days), then an annual, multi trip policy might be more ideal then just a long-term policy.
- Is there a chance you will be away longer than planned?
If so, you need to find out whether the policy can be extended, and whether you can extend or buy a new policy while you are still overseas.
Often long term travellers and digital nomads don’t know how long they are going to be away for. Some insurance companies don’t have extendable policies, and some that do require you to be back in your country of residence to extend or buy a new policy.
- Do you have any medical conditions?
If you have a medical condition, check whether it’s automatically covered or not. You may need to pay extra for an existing medical condition.
- Are you travelling alone, with a partner or family?
Some insurance companies offer family or couples cover. These are usually slightly cheaper, and the policy covers the same as if you were to buy the policies separately.
Hot Tips to consider when buying travel insurance:
Hot tip 1: When I’m choosing my insurance policy, instead of spending hours trying to make sense of the PDS, I will write directly to the insurance company and outright ask or confirm any questions I have. Make sure you keep any email communications. I was once told I was covered by something in my policy, when I came to make the claim I discovered I wasn’t actually covered, however because I had written confirmation stating I was covered, the insurance company paid me out.
Hot tip 2: Before purchasing the policy, while you’re discussing the policy options with the insurance company, be honest and tell them exactly what you are doing and exactly what you want the policy to cover. If you plan on jumping out of a plane, then tell them. If you want to work a ski season in the Alps, then mention it. The key is making sure you are covered. If you’re unsure about something, then ask them.
Hot Tip 3: Understand what an excess means! The higher the excess, the cheaper the policy, but the less you will get back if you make a claim. I usually go for $100 excess. This means that for EACH claim I make, I will only get back anything over the $100 I’ve spent. So, if I have a medical expense for $500, I will get back $400 from the insurance company. If you have no excess, then you will get everything back.
Hot Tip 4: Once you’ve purchased your travel insurance, remember to keep a copy of your insurance policy certificate and the PDS accessible (if you have a hard copy, remember to also have an electronic copy available), and leave a copy with family or friends back home.
Hot Tip 5: After having myself tried many different travel insurances over the years I am now sticking to World Nomads. They offer very competitive prices and first class customer service. You can check them here or get a quick quote using the chart below.
Now the travel insurance is sorted, the fun can begin!