When I first started traveling, I was at odds with myself. I would always ask myself the same question: “Is travel insurance really worth it? I mean, nothing is going to happen, right?”
It's especially hard because when you've just spent so much money on your travels themselves, it almost feels like a waste to part with yet another chunk of cash for something I might not even need.
Years ago, I didn't bother buying traveling insurance. Now, after seven years of traveling, I won't travel without it.
While it might feel like an annoying expense, trust me—travel insurance is worth it.
My $8,000 surgery in Singapore? Covered.
Another $7,000 worth of hospital visits in Bangkok? Covered.
I've heard stories of broken legs, broken backs, helicopter evacuations, near-death drownings…you name it, it's happened. And, at the risk of sounding far-fetched and cliché, these things happen to people like you and me.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
You should always do your due diligence when choosing insurance. That goes for health insurance at home or travel insurance abroad.
It's also worth noting that travel insurance is not only health insurance. Travel insurance covers your trip itself and it also covers medical expenses, should you be unfortunate enough to have them.
So let’s take a look at exactly what you will be paying for if you decide to buy travel insurance.
- Trip Cancellation or Interruption: Should your journey be canceled or delayed because you get sick, or if there's a hurricane or any type of personal or worldly catastrophe, your insurance company will reimburse you for everything. But remember—you have to buy your insurance before the trip gets canceled.
- Lost or Damaged Baggage and Belongings: If your bags get lost or stolen, your travel insurance will pay to replace your items.
- Medical Emergencies and Death: The ideal scenario is that you don’t get hurt, dismembered or killed while traveling. But just in case you do, your travel insurance will cover the medical bills (or repatriate your body in the case of death—but let's not go there).
Of course, it's not likely or ideal that you get hurt on your trip, but if you do and you aren’t covered by a decent insurance policy, you could face medical or repatriation costs that run up into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars (seriously).
An air ambulance from the United States to the UK will cost you around $50,000 if you don’t have insurance.
Suddenly those the couple hundred dollars you spent on travel insurance seems a lot more attractive, doesn't it?
Nobody wants to be “that guy” who makes a panicked phone call to their parents telling them they need $50,000 for hospital bills and an air ambulance across the ocean.
Similarly, when you cover yourself with travel insurance, you could save yourself from losing thousands of dollars if your trip is unexpectedly canceled.
The only thing worse than your travel plans getting ruined is losing all the money you spent on it!
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
Travel insurance doesn't cost as much as you probably think it does. Obviously, it depends on who you buy insurance with (and what, exactly, it covers), but it's a small price to pay for a safe trip abroad.
I bought a comprehensive travel insurance policy from World Nomads for an entire year of traveling in Asia for somewhere around $450.
At first, $450 might seem like an eye-watering price to pay, but in reality, it's just over a dollar a day. My health (and peace of mind) is well worth that.
The travel insurance policy I chose covered:
- Up to $10 million in medical expenses.
- $200 towards replacing necessities in delayed baggage.
- $5,000 of cancellation reimbursements.
- $1,500 for trip interruptions – so that you can continue your trip if an emergency happens and you have to go home.
- $25,000 payout for personal accidents.
- $500 for loss or theft of money.
- $600 to replace lost or stolen travel documents and to cover expenses of travel or accommodation you need in the process.
As you can see, I had myself pretty much covered from every angle.
No, handing over $400 isn’t my favorite activity in the world. It is, however, in every way, preferable to spending 10 or 100 times that amount because I got hurt.
How Do You Choose Travel Insurance?
There are literally hundreds of insurance companies that will offer you every type of policy under the sun. This can make choosing travel insurance quite tough. You want to make sure it's comprehensive but you also don’t want to pay through the roof for it!
I have long been a fan of World Nomads because they cover virtually everything and have a good reputation for paying out claims. I can personally attest to that.
The average traveler primarily wants to look for comprehensive medical coverage. That said, I travel with expensive camera gear and electronics, so I need coverage for my belongings, too.
I normally opt for a policy that will pay for medical expenses up to $5,000,000, including repatriation costs. The more you can get on this front the better. Bear in mind that if you are buying travel insurance for high-risk destinations or activities, your premium is likely to be a bit higher.
With World Nomads, I've found the price difference to be negligible.
This will be the least exciting part of your travel plans and you may even shed a tear when you buy that policy. But trust me when I say that travel insurance is definitely worth it.
When you travel, the unexpected happens. That's the whole point of travel! Unexpected things can't be expected (obviously), and there's a reason they call it an accident…
Though it may sound obnoxious to say, I honestly believe that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can't afford to travel.