travel insurance really worth it? That’s the question that often gets tossed
around the travel community. As the General Manager of WorldNomads.com
, I want to delve into
some of the common myths and opinions about travel insurance that are out there
(yes, we’ve heard them all) and weigh in with what I hope to be useful
information on what the benefits of travel insurance truly are.
benefits of travel insurance greatly diminish proportionate to how long you
travel. Barring catastrophe”
Catastrophe. Catastrophe is usually defined by the insurance industry as a
large event like a natural disaster, but try telling the person in hospital
with a spinal injury that they aren’t suffering a catastrophe.
singular most important reason to take out travel insurance is to cover you in
the event of something medically happening to you or your family. That is at
the heart of the reason why travel insurance exists. Everything else in my
opinion is a ‘nice to have’.
of the number one causes of medical repatriation cases for our World Nomads is
road traffic accidents. In most cases, not because of the fault of the traveler.
No amount of precaution can be taken to prevent a 5 tonne cement truck
ploughing into you in Bolivia (that case was in excess of $180,000 dollars in
that most adventure travellers will be riding in the back of cattle trucks, on
dodgy Peruvian buses, Indian trains, motorcycles (anywhere), and all manner of
charabangs, a traffic accident is a very real possibility.
are no vaccines against Dengue Fever, which is sharply on the rise. There are
five strains, and getting one makes it more likely you’ll get the potentially
deadly Dengue Hemorrhagic Fever from the other strains. The $20,000 required to
cover the cost of moving one of our World Nomads from Laos to Bangkok to
receive specialist treatment, surely, was worth the cost of the policy.
travel insurers only make a few cents from every dollar they receive in
premium, so although when compared to all cases, the +$50,000 cases might be
small, the total amount of claims payed out is massive. The ‘benefits’ of
travel insurance are the same whether you’re on day 1 of your journey or day
1,038. The likelihood of something occurring does increase over time.
care is cheap in most of the world. It takes a lot of medical care abroad to
add up to even a $100 insurance excess fee”
all depends on what country you are travelling in and what level of medical
care you require. The cost of treatment for the common cold can be minimal if
you’re picking up antibiotics in a clinic in Quito, but that exact same
treatment in Tokyo, Singapore, San Francisco is not. By the time they’ve
requested you get a chest x-ray, blood tests, etc you’re staring down the
barrel of hundreds, even thousands of dollars. Of course, you could refuse when
you think you’ve got a case of the Bali belly, but are you qualified to tell the
difference between the symptoms of diarrhoea and Hepatitis A?
medical side of travel insurance generally only covers genuine emergencies
where life and limb are at stake.”
can’t agree with this one. Let’s look at some of the benefits offered around
travel insurance in regards to medical coverage. All policies are different,
but many include the following:
Outpatient treatment by a doctor/specialist
Prescribed treatment by a physiotherapist/chiropractor
Provisional pain-stilling dental treatment
any good travel insurance policy will come with the support of a medical
assistance company. If you feel any concern about your health or personal
safety, you can call them and they’ll assist you in finding the nearest medical
facility. It doesn’t matter if it’s a swollen toe that you stubbed the night
before, the nagging cough that’s been hanging around for weeks or that pain you
felt when you stepped on something in the surf, which turned out to be a poisonous
fish, triggering post traumatic compartment syndrome and requiring $10,000 in
medical treatment (it happens!).
is about self sufficiency, about relying on yourself to get out of bad
circumstances, about taking care of yourself.”
think it’s about being informed of the risks you might face when you’re on the
road. Do your research, understand what is most likely to happen to you in the
places you travel. I have the constitution of a wet paper bag, so when I travel
to Cambodia, I’ll pack a gastro kit. I agree that you’re responsible for your
own safety in most cases, but when the proverbial shit hits the fan, you may
well need more than support than you’re qualified to be able to give yourself.
Not sure about you, but I’m not going to remove my own tooth with nothing but
an ice skate, a volleyball and some string I’ve made from bamboo!
traveler needs to assess their need of travel insurance for themselves”
completely agree, every traveler is different, every journey is different. Make
an informed decision on what level of cover you require based on where you’re
travelling, what activities you’re undertaking and how much you care about your
possessions or the chances that your plans may need to change and you could be
left out of pocket.
not listen to the guidebook and major website recommendations for travel
insurance, as they make money by convincing you that you need it to travel.”
don’t “need travel insurance to travel”, unless it’s deemed compulsory by the
adventure travel company who does not want to be responsible for the cost of
your treatment should something happen to you on their trip, or as a visa
requirement for entry into a country. Just about every government website
promotes the need to take out travel insurance and they’re not making any
profit from this.
not let the “odd man out” stories of the traveler who did not purchase travel
insurance and needed it scare you.”
totally free to roam the world without travel insurance in most cases, you
might not be scared by the stories of people being stuck in a country with a
broken back whose government wont repatriate them and their family is left to
raise the $80,000 to get them airlifted home.
is ultimately your decision on whether you wish to run the risk of being caught
in a potentially, horrendously, expensive situation. For a lot of people, just
knowing that if their gear is stolen they’ll get something back, or if their
flights are cancelled, they wont be out of pocket by $800.
make sure that you do take the time to read the policy wording. Travelers will
spend months researching their trip, but not give an hour to go through the
policy wording and contact the insurer if there’s something they don’t
insurers give a 14 day cooling off period should you wish to cancel. Use it!
Call them up, email them and get them to explain if you’re unsure about a
particular benefit or exclusion, best to ask beforehand as opposed to finding
out when the claim is denied.
heard “ The best insurance company is the one you never need”.
a rubbish statement! The best travel insurance company is a travel companion,
there to provide not only cover, but support you whenever you need it on the
road. Be it information on the destination you’re travelling to, connecting you
to other travellers so you can understand the local environment better.
Services that help you get the most from your travel experience and tools to
keep you travelling safely as well as staff that understand what you need because
like you, they are travellers too.
Noble, GM WorldNomads.com
7 Things You Should Know About our Travel Insurance
is a global travel insurance company specifically focussed on independent and
adventurous travelers. We also provide travel safety advice amongst a range of
other services, such as language guides, free travel blogs, Answers – our
community Q & A service and an international travel scholarships program.
You can also donate to a community development project when you buy travel insurance
through our Footprints charity program.