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Everything you need to know about travel insurance.

Have questions about travel insurance? You’re in the right place.

Travel insurance can, like any insurance, feel intimidating or confusing when shopping for it. Fear not, I’m here to help walk you through all of the most popular questions about travel insurance.

What if I already have health insurance? Do I really need it? Where do I get travel insurance? What does it cover? What’s the process like if I need to use it? Is it expensive? 

All of these questions were things I asked myself when I first considered getting a travel insurance policy. You might think I took one out for my trip to Asia (which I did), but I’d actually purchased travel insurance two times before that, with no regrets! Without further adieu, let’s dive in.

Why would I need travel insurance?

Travel insurance is a beautiful blend of health insurance and renter’s insurance. Unlike other policies, travel insurance will cover both you and your belongings while you’re on the go.

If you accidentally smash your tablet, drop your camera, or break your leg while traveling, travel insurance covers all of those. What I like most though is the fact that you’re location independent. Renter’s insurance might not cover my valuables if I’m in Timbuktu, but travel insurance would. The same goes for health coverage.

What if I already have health insurance?

When I was first looking into travel insurance, I was planning my first trip to Burning Man. At the time, my job offered a great health insurance program that I was a part of. Because of this, I wasn’t sure that I needed travel insurance. What was it going to cover that my regular health insurance wouldn’t?

DISCLAIMER: All information in this post is based on personal experience, and I am not a professional insurance broker.

As it turns out, there was quite a bit that my travel insurance policy would cover that wouldn’t be covered by my regular health insurance policy. Since I was heading to Burning Man, I was particularly keen on the benefit of a medical evacuation.

If something had happened to me, my travel insurance policy would have covered a helicopter evacuation – up to $500,000 USD! While I didn’t think anything like that would happen, I didn’t want to be a 3 hour drive from the nearest hospital and find out the hard way.

While the medical evacuation was the big selling point for me, there were other benefits for me too. Travel insurance would help offset any costs I might have incurred beyond what my regular health insurance would have covered. There was also the peace of mind that I wouldn’t have to worry about my health insurance not covering me at Burning Man because it is an “extreme event”. Whereas with travel insurance, they’re used to people doing the extreme!

Do I really need it?

Now this question is a bit tough because, frankly, that’s a choice you’ll have to make for yourself. My stance will always be “better safe than sorry” when it comes to your health, well being, and the risk of your valuables getting stolen or broke.

I recommend comparing any current coverage to that of your potential travel insurance provider. This will give you a clearer picture of the potential benefits.

Where do I get travel insurance?

Just like regular health insurance, there are plenty of insurance providers out there to chose from. Your best bet would be to Google “travel insurance policies”. Most likely, the first result you’ll see is a company called World Nomads.

World Nomads is my provider of choice, I love them. They had me right off the bat by offering a no-strings-attached quote. I hate it when you apply for a “free quote” and it turns into 100 emails a day, never ending phone calls, and weird people at my doorstep. Okay might not people at my doorstep, but you know what I mean!

They have great customer service, a quick response time, and were very helpful to me when I needed to file a claim. They also offer different “levels” of coverage. This way, you can choose the right amount of coverage for your needs.

Is it expensive?

I’m happy to say that, no, it’s not that expensive! Cost depends on where you’ll be traveling, for how long, and what type of coverage you want.

Here’s what I’ve paid with World Nomads:

  • Two weeks traveling in the US: $36
  • One month traveling in the US: $73
  • Five months traveling in Asia: $110

I’ve only had to file a claim once, and that was for an urgent care visit in Hong Kong. The insurance policy was $110, and my claim was for ~$90 – and I got every penny of that! It almost paid for itself!

What if I need to use it? How does that work?

Medical

In most cases (double check with your provider), you’ll need to pay for all medical costs upfront. You’ll then file a claim with your provider to be reimbursed. I admit, I was a little leery of this at first, but World Nomads was great about getting my claim filed and approved quickly.

When you file a medical claim, you’ll typically need to present all of the following:

  • Receipt from your payment method, with the cost clearly printed
  • Diagnosis / Description of the expense (broken leg etc)
  • Signed agreement form that comes with your insurance paperwork
  • Copies of your arranged travel to and from your home country. I sent in screenshots of my flight confirmation emails to and from the US

I sent all of these things to World Nomads and they got back with me in a few days saying my claim in the amount of $88.98 was approved. If you decide to go with a different provider, simply ask them which documents are required for a claim. Make sure to ask them when you take out the policy so you get everything you need during the incident. It would suck to have to track down a clinic in Bosnia just for a piece of paper!

Items

Luckily, I’ve never had to file a claim for a lost item – but I did talk to my World Nomads rep about it when I filed my medical claim. If, for example, an elephant had smashed my cell phone I would have had to provide the following:

  • Proof of current ownership
  • Proof of purchase listing the cost of the item
  • Proof that I was traveling with the item
  • A description of how the item got damaged
  • Signed agreement form

Item coverage is another benefit of travel insurance for me. When I had my near-kidnapping in Vietnam, I didn’t think twice about throwing my backpack over the highway guardrail because I knew anything in there would be covered and replaced.

Any other questions?

I hope you’re feeling more educated and empowered now! If you have any other questions about travel insurance, I’d love to hear them.. Leave me a comment, and share this article with your friends so they can benefit too!

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