Before our first world trip, we had a lot of research to do. One of the items on our list was travel insurance. Did we need it and if so, where should we buy it? While it’s pretty straightforward for a 2-week vacation to Spain, when you tell your insurance you want to travel for x amount of time and don’t know where to go, they often have no clue as to what to advise you.
What makes it even harder is that everyone has different needs and different levels of comfort when it comes to unforeseen circumstances. But that being said, we do have some tips and tricks for you if you are struggling with the question: should I buy travel insurance?
It’s not a one size fits all package so take what you need and add your own research to the information listed below. We don’t know all the ins and outs of every country and every travel insurance that’s out there.
What’s the benefit of insurance?
Most people have some sort of insurance in their daily lives. Whether it’s your health you want to protect, your home, or your finances, there is insurance for almost anything. You pay a fee and in exchange, you get the comfort of knowing your home will be rebuilt if it burns down, you won’t go bankrupt if you get sick, and so on.
We insure risks we’re not willing or able to carry ourselves. Not everybody has savings or wants to spend their savings on unfortunate events. You have to weigh the pros and cons of the risk, the money it requires you to spend, and the time or energy it saves you to insure this particular risk.
For instance, say you buy a brand new iPhone for € 1100. You saved up to buy this phone and are so happy you’re finally able to use it. But it slides out of your hand and now it’s broken and doesn’t work anymore. Do you have the money to buy another phone? Or do you need your insurance to help you out?
Unforeseen is the keyword
Insurances cover unforeseen things which is something to keep in mind. You can’t insure a house that is burning, you need to insure it before this happens. And it might never happen. If you know you might miss a flight because you have an important exam, this is no longer an unforeseen event.
This stressed out a lot of people when Covid hit. During the first wave, a lot of people were rescued because they were stuck. But after the first wave, Covid is no longer an unforeseen event. This changes things a lot. If you travel now, you know Covid is here and it might impact your trip. It’s a risk you take and one that insurances are reluctant to cover.
Make sure you insure risks that are unforeseen. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Insurance companies will do everything in their power to not pay if there is the slightest reason they don’t have to.
✈️ Make sure you have the right travel insurance before your next trip! We recommend SafetyWing
When you plan to travel long-term there are a couple of risks you want to think about. The first one is your health insurance. Does it provide coverage for the whole world or do you need to add anything? Some countries require you to officially emigrate if you travel for more than x days and this might impact your health insurance as well.
Some countries might be cheaper in providing health care (Asian countries for example) and some might be more expensive (the United States for example). Keep this in mind in checking your existing health care or adding health care to your travel insurance. You want to make sure all costs are covered and not just the amount that it would cost you back home.
Why you might need health insurance while traveling long-term: you go diving and your ear clogs up. You trip somewhere and need a cast. Your food poisoning gets so bad you need to be admitted to the hospital. Or maybe you get bitten or scratched by an animal or stump into an old rusty nail. In our eyes, this is a must in any kind of travel insurance. Don’t leave home without it.
Lost or stolen luggage
If you’re traveling long-term everything you carry along with your sort of becomes your home. It’s all that you have and some things are so important you don’t want to lose them. We always feel like our big backpacks are our wardrobe and it would be a shame if they didn’t show up at our next destination but we could buy new stuff.
But things like passports, credit cards, and your phone, have different meanings and feeling to them. You keep those with you at all times and if something would happen to this part of your belongings it would be bad and cause a lot of stress.
It’s possible to add coverage for these kinds of things so you don’t have to carry the full financial burden when you lose luggage or even worse, it gets stolen. Or just to have someone to call and tell you what to do if you’re shaken because you just got robbed.
Cancelations and other mishaps
What if you miss a plane and you can’t get to your accommodation but you still need to pay? These are things that are out of your control (showing up late to the airport because you were partying too hard is not) and have an impact on other parts of your trip. If you get reimbursed by your insurance that at least softens the blow a little bit.
Someone at home might get sick and you want to be with them. Or maybe a family member died unexpectedly and you want to be with the rest of the family. These are the not fun things to think about, but if you do this before it’s an issue it will save you so much energy and frustration. If you know you just need to call the insurance company after you get an awful phone call and they will take care of everything, that is peace of mind and worth a few bucks.
Life events are unpredictable and while traveling a lot can go wrong or mess up your plans. It’s nice to know that there are options to soften the blow and help you move on during hard times.
Think about what you’re going to do
Some activities require an addition to your travel insurance. The first thing that comes to mind is working in another country. If you have a working holiday visa or maybe go volunteering this is something to check out. If something happens while you’re on the job, does your insurance still help you and payout? Or do you need additional coverage because work is excluded because it’s a high risk?
Another one is thrill activities, and sometimes this starts with diving and skiing. In case of an emergency, you want to know you’ll get rescued or hospitalized with the right amount of care. Because of the high risk, this usually is an addition that has a hefty fee. And some thrill activities might be excluded altogether.
If you plan to drive any kind of vehicle across the world it’s something to check out as well. You might need additional coverage for this. A lot of people go to Asia to drive a scooter and while this is fun and all, most insurances don’t provide coverage in case you have an accident. You need the proper license, which is a motorcycle license in order for your insurance company to pay out.
Life and death
A lot of insurances offer coverage in case you get disabled, or worse, die during your travels. This merely means you (or your family) get a sum of money. It’s a confusing one because you want coverage in case you get into an accident or die. But this one is just a bonus to things that are covered through your health insurance or the cancellation and other mishaps part.
Your basic travel insurance will make sure your body gets transported home in case you die abroad. This addition will only add an x amount of cash so your family can take care of your funeral or pay off any debt or whatever. If you’re worried about your financial situation and you have no other insurances that take care of this, you might want to add this to your travel insurance.
Again, there is no right or wrong, it’s all about what gives you (or your family for that matter) peace of mind while traveling the world. Just weigh the cost of adding this to the cons of not adding it and see what’s more important.
✈️ Make sure you have the right travel insurance before your next trip! We recommend SafetyWing
Our experiences with travel insurance
While traveling the world we had to deal with our share of unfortunate events. We’re glad we had travel insurance to help us out. Our first call to our travel insurance company was right after our Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike in China.
My knee was bothering me to the point where I couldn’t walk the stairs. They told us what hospital to go to and made sure to pay the bill. We even got to the point where I spent 3 months in Kuala Lumpur for physical therapy and still they footed the bill.
We’ve seen quite a few hospitals while traveling due to migraines, clogged ears, and other mishaps. Every time we had something we would just call the insurance and they would help us out.
During the first wave of Covid, we were able to cancel all our booked accommodations because our flight got canceled, which saved us a lot of money.
All in all, we don’t travel without some sort of travel insurance. We make a choice about what risks we’re willing to take and what we need to have covered by our travel insurance. We’d love to hear about your experiences with travel insurance and why you have it (or not)!
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