How to choose the travel Insurance better suited for your needs
Is it worth it buying insurance?
Insurance is the one thing you should always buy expecting never to use. For this very reason, because we are so intrinsically optimistic, we many times end up having second thoughts on whether it is worth spending that extra money on insurance. No matter how tight your budget is, and particularly if you are travelling on a budget, indeed, travel insurance is the last thing you will want to cut from your list.
At the end of the day, this is definitely a personal decision. Many people travel every day to many parts of the world without caring for insurance and never face an issue because of that. If you have ever considered doing the same, let me be the one to remember you of a horrible truth: bad things happen; they happen to total strangers, they might happen to the person sitting next to you on a train, and they could happen to you as well.
What if your bus crashes and you miss your flight? What if you get a respiratory infection? What if your appendix bursts, you get food poisoning, break a leg, or need emergency dental care? As much as I enjoy having an optimistic attitude (even though it might not look like), I have heard so many stories after doing some travelling that nowadays I can't even think not to get travel insurance before I leave home.
What type of travel insurance do you need?
I understand that choosing a travel insurance might be a puzzling task. As a basic, nevertheless, the best policies should include: 1) Travel Health Insurance - providing coverage for accidents and medical emergencies while travelling, including medical evacuation in case you need to be transported to a major center or back home for treatment; and 2) Trip Insurance - covering travel cancelations in case of unforeseen circumstances, lost baggage and perhaps even property theft or damage, in case you are carrying expensive gear.
What should you look for in a travel insurance?
The answer to this question depends on a number of factors. For example, you will want to consider whether, and to which limit, your domestic health insurance covers you abroad. Sometimes your credit card may cover you during a trip as long as you book your air tickets, accommodation and car using that credit card. Whatever the case, make sure to understand the conditions for this coverage outside your country of residence.
In case these conditions don't fully accommodate your needs, you will need to buy travel insurance. My advice here is to make sure your destination is covered and that you pay attention to the coverage limits of your policy. You don't want to go cheap on your health. The worse thing that can happen is that you hire a low limit insurance, say 25,000 dollars, and this limit is reached half way through your emergency treatment. You will also want to make sure your policy covers your needs, particularly if you are planning to engage in risky activities, like skiing, rafting, paragliding and so on, or if your are travelling with a nice camera.
My favorite travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They specialize in short-term travel insurance, offering higher coverage limits, broad emergency assistance and comprehensive coverage for adventure activities, depending on the plan you select. World Nomads is regarded by National Geographic and Lonely Planet as a reference in this industry.
Tips for dealing with travel insurance claims
We never know if and when we will need to fill a claim for insurance. In any case, the old saying prevents us to try and be always safer than sorry:
- Know your policy. Understand what you are covered for. Read the fine print!
- In this age of selfies, a well documented trip may help your future insurance claims. Photograph yourself, your luggage and your travel gear, ideally on a way that can prove when the photos were taken.
- Keep copies of your bookings and invoices of both travel and health related articles and services. Saving a copy of your expensive equipment's receipts is also a great idea.
- Store these pictures and digital copies in an easily accessible place in the cloud.
- In case of a medical emergency, always get a physician to report your condition in writing, hopefully providing justification for any receipt you might need to attach to your claim.
- In case of theft, report it as soon as possible to the authorities. Attach the police report to your claim.
Following these advices you ensure the peace of mind of knowing you will be protected while away from home. Also, in case of an emergency, you will be able to seek help without risking assuming a debt worth several times your trip itself.