Let’s get the famous, much used philosophy on the subject out of the way…
If you can’t afford the travel insurance, don’t travel!
Why? If something bad happens to you on your travels be it an injury, flight cancellation, hijacking, family death, theft of property etc. then you need to be able to pay for the treatment or to replace the item and recoup the costs of a cancelled trip.
Some countries don’t have the benefit of free health care (as we do in the U.K.) and getting treatment could cost you a lot. Thousands of pounds/dollars or even millions. You may be involved in a traffic accident and all the evidence points to the accident being your fault. It sounds grim but you could be sued for millions and in the trial you will need legal aid which will cost you even more.
Unless you are a billionaire with a devil may care attitude then you need insurance. A good policy will provide you with the monetary means to make everything right again without causing you the financial headaches to go with the bump on the head. The only trouble with finding insurance is…. finding a decent insurance company.
There are a bunch of comparison websites out there which will allow you to vet the various pros and cons of an insurance policy however they don’t cover all of the companies that exist so there may be a better company out there that you’ll just have to find out about via recommendations, awards, travel websites and the like.
Each policy will come with an enormous small print section containing exceptions, rules and any other technicalities involved in each of the policy clauses. This is the part you really want to pay attention to as herein lie the deal makers and breakers in that attractive looking insurance policy that promises you cheaper, better, more extensive. For instance, some policies will not cover you if your flight is cancelled due to ash clouds from a volcano. Some may cover you if you have to fly home from Alaska for a family emergency but not if it’s something you were advised would happen before you left by a doctor. Some may only give you a really small allowance for items stolen from you from a dorm in Bangkok or perhaps they don’t cover you if there is accident which was your fault.
Really take the time and pay attention to the details. Compare and weigh up the pros and cons between policies, read reviews, ask advice in forums, speak to the employees and get a feel for the company itself.
The policy depends on your trip too. There are companies which may give you the best cover for a weekend break in Tuscany and those who specialise in open ended travel plans for backpackers. For long term travel plans, policies tend to become cheaper the longer they last and good ones will allow you to upgrade on the road so your policy will include winter sports as you head to Queenstown with a camper full of snowboarding equipment ready to shred the fresh powder. Find out if the company will allow you to lengthen your policy term while travelling. Some companies will ask that you return to your home country to renew your policy which is going to really annoy you if that happens to be in the middle of a road trip through America.
Pricing varies a lot. The cheaper the policy, generally the level of cover drops. Not always though. Some companies charge more because they can. Shop around.
It’s taken us a good few sessions comparing policies until we whittled it down to the one we wanted. We still wonder if it’s the best choice but I guess we’ll find out if we break a leg!
We should add, we can’t necessarily tell you which ones are going to be the best for you, only recommend the ones we’ve used and have been good to us and also one that are generally recommended by the travel community. Disclaimer over!
For a more in depth article about all things travel insurance from an excellent travel blogger (and ex-lawyer!) please check this out from Indiana Jo.
Until next time, stay tuned!