Firstly, what exactly is travel insurance?
Basically, travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected medical emergencies and events such as trip cancellation, your personal effects, lost luggage, stolen or damaged luggage by an airline, and other related losses incurred while traveling (even including accidental death!).
Travel Insurance is an essential and important part of travel expenses, yet some people will just ignore it thinking “problems only happen to others”. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Leaving on an international trip will require planning and traveling safely is crucial to keep peace of mind in any event.
Most people are lost when dealing with insurance so I will clear things up in this article in detail, covering essentially what you need to know to be prepared and see your options of insurance.
Getting insurance before the trip
My advice is to make sure you have insurance as soon as you know the travel dates. This is important because most travel insurance requires you to have purchased your insurance before you leave.
My personal experience
I had other occasions in Dubai where I had a stomach infection and needed to get emergency treatment. That turned out a little expensive and I had to pay from my own pocket, irrespective of my insurance. As I had to stay for a couple of hours in the hospital so I couldn't avail insurance at that time. But after coming back to the native place I applied for a claim and with proper documentation I got my money back minus the $100 clause.
The feeling of not having to worry and being carefree for me is the most important factor that provides medical insurance. I made the mistake of not reading the policy in detail and assumed it covered cashless treatment. Thus the next point covers what is a very important thing to do while traveling.
Know your coverage inside and out
Some questions you might want to ask before signing up for long-term travel insurance include -
1. What’s the deductible on health-related claims like paying for a ride in an ambulance (extraction), treating an injury (cuts and scrapes), or a medical procedure like surgery or emergency dental work? Are these things even included?
2. What are the requirements for making a claim on lost or stolen luggage? What if your wallet is stolen? Do you need to observe the crime take place? How do you prove it? What are grounds for not being covered?
3. What’s the deductible on your gear?
4. For laptop travel insurance – what’s the “book value” of your laptop model?
5. How many business days will it take to be reimbursed on a claim? Keep this in mind, as it’s normal to pay out of pocket, upfront, for expenses, and be reimbursed at a later date.
6. What sort of activities are covered? Does it include riding a motorbike or scooter, scuba diving, rock climbing, hiking, and other “adventure activities”?
7. Are there elements of any claim that may require you to be physically in my home country? ie. “document of non-repairability from your home country” — and if so, how much time do you have before you must actually go home and produce it in order to be compensated?
Consider reading bad reviews about nomad travel insurance providers before you phone in, before you sign up for policy – and write down questions based on other people’s negative experiences so you’re not one of them.
“If you can’t afford travel insurance, then you can’t afford to travel”.
Factors that impact the type of travel insurance to buy?
Which travel insurance policy is best for you? Make sure you know what your needs are and your situation:
1. Where are you traveling to? Traveling a minimum of 30 days in 1 or more foreign countries.
2. How are you traveling? Flights, rental cars, etc. Required coverage will change depending on this.
3. What activities will you be doing – Skiing, ski diving, or other adventurous activities? Taking risks by using a motorbike or “adventure sports” activities like scuba diving, climbing, off-roading.
4. Length of the trip.
5. Who are you traveling with—single, couple, or family?
6. Value of the goods you are taking with you. Possess electronics that are important, fragile, likely expensive, and theft worthy (ie. need laptop travel insurance, too).
You may not have a plan in terms of your location, so you’re likely going to need international health insurance that will cover you wherever you roam, for however long that is, planned or otherwise.
What to look for in a good travel insurance
This will definitely depend on where you intend to go, for how long and where is your country of residence. But the most important thing that is non-negotiable is to get coverage for emergency medical expenses and emergency medical evacuation and repatriation. For Emergency medical expenses, the coverage should be of at least half a million dollars and cover most basic medical illnesses and common accidents. Dental Coverage is a plus but also very useful as it is quite common, but not as expensive as surgeries, so it could be avoided.
The other important thing to look out for is to check which countries are covered. In general, the most dangerous countries which have travel advisories issued by governments will not be covered. These are generally war zones and countries that most travelers will not visit.
Other things to check out are 24-hour emergency assistance over the phone. Make sure you keep this number close in the event you need to rush to the hospital as some insurances need you to get acceptance by phone before medical procedures.
Get coverage from your credit card
It is useful to look at your credit card provider if they provide travel insurance. Some premium cards will provide basic coverage for a small period of time, usually 2 to 3 weeks. However, if you decide to go with this option, make sure you read the fine prints as it is usually for basic things and many exclusion can arise. I instead disregard this insurance and go directly to World Nomads, which has the record to provide full assistance if anything happens. To me, it’s just not worth the hassle to rely on basic credit card insurance.
Keep in mind that many will not provide repatriation and evacuation fees. And most importantly, you will most probably have to use the credit card to purchase the flight for your trip, so make sure you understand how it works.
Cheap travel insurance
A quick word about cheap travel insurance policies. Getting the cheapest travel insurance policy is not always the best strategy. This could cost you a lot more in the long run if you do not get the right policy for yourself.
Travel insurance companies care about reducing their expenses (i.e their payout to you). The best travel insurance policies and companies provide good coverage and will work with you to give you the best experience possible.
But, there are a few dodgy ones also!
Covering expensive gear
These days, we all travel with so many gadgets such as laptops, cameras, and smartphones. Keep in mind that most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit – make sure it’s high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.
Personally, we have never had any travel insurance specific to electronics. We’ve always got it included in our comprehensive travel insurance policy.
Important note about pre-existing conditions
Make sure you never lie in the registration form about your pre-existing conditions. This will most probably nullify your insurance in case of an accident and will also blacklist you from buying future coverage. Make sure you read the terms and conditions about pre-existing conditions and if they are important, contact the policy by phone to be 100% sure how to approach them with your pre-existing conditions.
It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can’t go on your trip. Many unexpected problems can pop up. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation of flights and accommodation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.
Make sure your insurance plan includes trip interruption.
Remember: they’re not your friend
Ask questions! Don’t take anything on faith! When I read negative reviews for anything, I’ll often think “boy, glad I asked that question before I signed up”. Questions are also a really great way to figure out how not to get f*cked by your provider in a crisis situation when you’re making an insurance claim.
Be polite, but frank. Use short sentences. Ask questions before making statements if you’re unclear on something so you know how to answer them in the legalistic way they’re viewing your claim. Only provide answers to questions, don’t tell stories. Pretend they hate you and they just read your diary.
Losing a claim could be as simple as providing too much superfluous information or not asking a question before you provide an answer – or trudge over to an internet cafe to scan and email the wrong document.
Travel insurance doesn't cover everything. All of the information we provide is a brief summary. It does not include all terms, conditions, limitations, exclusions, and termination provisions of the plans described. Coverage may not be the same or available for residents of all countries, states, or provinces. Please carefully read your policy wording for a full description of coverage.
Have an emergency fund
And finally, always expect to pay for all expenses you’re covered for out of pocket, first. Most hospitals around the world don’t have a computer link-up to your insurance policy provider’s computer – meaning that it could be weeks until you get your money back, sans deductible.
The same goes for damaged luggage. Insurance companies have insurance and a line of credit, too. They need to provide a paper trail to the higher-ups, and often that means you’re on your own, if only for a little while. Claims take time to process.
Expect delays at the onset of a problem and you might be pleasantly surprised. As opposed to expecting too much too fast.
Now it's your turn
I hope you liked the article 😊
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