“Nothing’s going to happen to me, I’m young, fit & healthy. Plus it’s expensive, and I only saved enough money for my trip…”
Have you had these thoughts before going on a trip? Wondering, do you need travel insurance?
You may be going travelling for the first time and just have no idea what travel insurance is, or why you even need travel insurance.
You may have been on a trip before and nothing happened. You didn’t lose your passport, you didn’t get robbed, hell you didn’t even get bed bugs. Your entire trip was incident free.
We’ve been travelling for a while now and if there is one thing that we’ve learned. It’s a crazy unpredictable world out there, you never know what might happen.
Do you need travel insurance?
No one is impenetrable. Unless you are Superman. And if that’s the case, dude, why are you even reading this article?
Our friends at Nomadasaurus were in a bus crash in Myanmar. Also Dave from The Planet D broke his back while on a trip in Peru.
Even I have had my run in with misfortune. I was involved in a whitewater rafting accident back that required me to be rushed off to hospital for a back X-ray (all fine by the way – it was just a really, really big ouchie).
Medical difficulties aside, there are other reason you may need travel insurance.
During the last 2 years of travel we’ve had someone try to snatch my bag in Cambodia. Some kids tried to pickpocket us in FYR Macedonia. We’ve left electric razors in hostel rooms, left things behind on planes, buses & in taxis, and we’ve had electronics randomly explode due to power surges.
So, what I’m saying, is that if these shitty things can happen to ‘professional’ full time travellers – then they can certainly happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. I worked as a travel agent for 3 years back in Australia. Seriously the things I saw and heard about while working there – I personally would never go anywhere without some sort of travel insurance.
What should I look for in my backpacking travel insurance?
There’s a few important things to consider when purchasing travel insurance:
1. How much of your medical / dental costs will they cover?
If you’re going to the United States for example, medical costs are stupidly high. Make sure that if you happen to get hit by a bus while crossing the street, you don’t end up with a $500,000 bill at the end, that your insurance doesn’t cover.
Why wouldn’t they cover an accident like that? Because you didn’t get a policy with enough coverage for the United States. (That bus incident and the price of medical is a true story btw. It happened to this customer while I was a travel agent, who didn’t have any travel insurance – ouchie)
2. Do they offer medical evacuation if required?
As with Dave’s story from The Planet D, if you injure yourself while travelling, you don’t want to be stuck in some hospital in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. You want to be airlifted to a hospital with top of the line medical facilities that can handle your injury. Does the policy offer this?
3. Do they offer 24 hour emergency assistance?
This is a no brainer.
Can you contact them at any time of day or night no matter where you are? If you are having to wait until their opening hours to report an incident, it’s not really convenient for you, the paying customer. Also not the best if you’re have been robbed and you’re broke and hungry!
These 3 are really the big ones to look out for. The remainder of the cover you require for your trip depends on what you are taking with you, what you are doing and where you are going.
What else should you be covered for?
Let’s say you’re are on a month long trip around Europe, and the volcano in Iceland kicks off causing disruptions. Will you be covered for any flights you miss because you’re grounded thanks to a stupid ash cloud?
Do you need travel insurance for Loss of Luggage?
It can be something as simple as arriving at LAX and realising (after a long wait at the luggage collection), that zero of the bags you checked in have made it to LAX with you – another true story of mine #FML.
Does your insurer cover the cost of you buying some fresh undies, a tooth brush, toothpaste and other necessities you need until your luggage shows up?