Should you buy travel insurance? Especially when you’re long-term traveling? Short answer : yes! Everybody has to get travel insurance when you’re hitting the road! A travel insurance covers you in case a mishap occurs, we all know that. The problem is… whenever I’m preparing my next trip, I notice -reading online forums and travel Facebook groups- that a lot of people hesitate to get one, or they just travel with no travel insurance.
“It’s expensive” “You sure we really need it?” “I’m always very careful, I have a good head on my shoulders, I know I can go without a travel insurance“. Those are the sentences I read on line, and it drives me crazy! Honestly, what matters the most? A few hundreds dollars saved or your health, potentially endangered while you’re traveling? If that makes you feel good, you can boast about traveling off the beaten track (a very popular term right now), but accidents don’t just happen to other people, believe me!
Risks when you’re traveling without travel insurance
Yeah, I admit, nothing bad happened to me, but you never know! However, I heard a shitload of stories about travelers who didn’t get a travel insurance and regretted it later, when something went wrong. Especially in Southeast Asia. A traveler who had to pay 3000 dollars following a hospitalisation in Vietnam, another one who had all his stuff stolen in a hotel in Cambodia, another one who had to pay 12000 dollars following a very short stay in a hospital in the US, that girl who got pregnant in Thailand, she had a few complications which resulted in an emergency evacuation home in Germany…
I also heard about travelers fleeing the US following a hospitalisation, because they just cannot pay the huge bill. I even saw fellow travel bloggers launching a crowdfunding campaign to fund their hospital costs. They had an accident and they were not insured. Good job guys, that’s what I call exemplariness! Those are a few stories that went through my head writing this article, but there are hundreds of other examples! Accidents, thefts, sickness, injuries… don’t just happen to other people! Broken arm, car accident, stuff stolen, loss of a relative and you have to fly back home…
You never know what tomorrow may bring, and accidents happened to people I met on the road, who didn’t expect it at all! You may feel like you’re pouring your money down the drain when getting a travel insurance, especially when you’re a budget traveler. It’s a hard pill to swallow when you know you might not use it at all. We can be tempted to hit the road without one, and cross your fingers, hoping nothing will happen. But believe me, better safe than sorry. You’ll get care if something happens, and you have a certain peace of mind. Moreover, even in poor countries, hospital fees end up being a lot higher than the cost of a travel insurance.
Why buy travel insurance?
I explained earlier the problems and the risks you expose yourself to if you don’t get travel insurance, but let me also explain why you should get one. There are several scenarios where you’ll be covered in case of problems.
- The common case is when you have a medical problem. For whatever reason, you get sick and you have to go to the hospital. Or you get injured. Even worse, you have to be repatriated back home. Your insurance will cover everything.
- You need to cancel your trip because of an emergency (once again because you’re sick, or because someone stole your passport, or you lost it, or because of a natural disaster, following the death of a relative…).
- In case of personal liability, meaning if you’re causing material or physical damage to someone abroad, insurance can cover your liability and legal expenses.
- If your baggage are stolen, lost, damaged… Unfortunately the insurance won’t be able to find your baggage, but they’ll be able to compensate you for your belongings.
- Your travel insurance can also help you if you lose your passport, the process can be faster thanks to their assistance.
- There are also all those countries where you have to prove you have a travel insurance, otherwise they won’t let you in, Mongolia, Algeria, Cuba, China and Russia! In Iran, you need to have an insurance with medical repatriation, otherwise you’ll have to go to the insurance counter at the immigration and pay.
What about the insurance of my credit card?
Credit cards insurances are not bad, but they’re definitely not that great when you’re traveling for a long time. Their service and coverage is often very limited compared to travel insurances services. Travel insurance is way more generous, that’s what they’re specialised in (helping travelers on the road), and they know exactly how to handle complicated situations. If you’re traveling, please don’t rely on your credit card insurance!
What do you need in a travel insurance?
- Make sure the insurance covers your treatment (sickness, accident during an outdoor activity, animal bite…)
- Make sure they propose emergency evacuation if needed (because of sickness or a serious accident)
- Make sure it covers you if you have to unexpectedly fly back home (loss of a relative)
- Also, make sure they’ll cover you if your stuff is stolen (smartphone, laptop, also if you get in an accident with your rented car).
Which travel insurance should you pick?
World Nomads is probably the most popular travel insurance among long-term travelers around the world. Their customer service is reliable, and they’re reactive when you’re sending them an email. Need a document? Send them a message and they’ll get back to you. They have various insurances, depending on where yo go, how long your travel, etc… Don’t hesitate!
Otherwise you can also try Allianz Travel, I heard really good things about them. There’s also IMG Global and HTH Worldwide among others. Don’t hesitate to ask questions before making your decision. Send them an email or better, call them. Are you available 24/7? Do I have to pay in advance the fees? If this thing happen, will I be covered? Can I go to any hospital and be covered? Check the coverage limits, and of course the price of the insurance.
You’ll notice the price varies depending on your age -the older you are, the riskier your profile is, the more you pay-. But the price also varies depending on how long you’re gonna travel -insurance will be more expensive if you travel longer-, and also depending on your destination (going to the US and Canada will cost you more, medical bills being extremely expensive there).
We often hear sentences like “Traveling is embracing the unknown“. True, the unknown brings a lot of amazing adventures, but consequently, unfortunate mishaps. A travel insurance will protect you in case of sickness, injury or theft, but also if a bad event happens. As I said, World Nomads is the most popular travel insurance among long term travelers. Otherwise, check the other options, but don’t hit the road without being insured!