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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 hospitalization 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 hospitalization, 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. Getting a travel insurance is one of my numerous budget travel tips!
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 specialized 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
SafetyWing 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, SafetyWing is the most popular travel insurance among long term travelers. Otherwise, check the other options, but don’t hit the road without being insured! If you’re about to travel solo, read my article full of tips about traveling alone for the first time!
- Traveling soon? Check out my travel resources page! This list of travel accessories can also be useful for you!
- Want a tailor-made trip? Get a free quote here!
- Click here to check the latest flight prices. And click here to book a hotel room.
- Always use a VPN when you’re traveling. I use ExpressVPN and I love it! Here’s why use a VPN when you’re traveling!
Dee Battle says
You are spot on. To be honest, I’ve never once in my almost 25 years of life had any sort of accident that caused me to be hospitalized or situation that gave me a high bill. Neither have I experienced lost luggage. The biggest thing to happen was losing my passport. Despite this, I don’t set foot out of the U.S. without some type of insurance. Although I know it’s unlikely, tomorrow could be the day that everything goes wrong. You just never know. Having to be on the hook for thousands of dollars is a nightmare. That’s literally years of savings gone. Hopefully more and more people start to get some coverage!
Honestly, while on the road, I didn’t have to be hospitalized, and nothing really bad happened to me. But as I said, you never know. I heard horror stories about travelers getting in an accident, not insured, and having to pay thousands of dollars. That’s why I’m always insured when I’m traveling!
Craige Hardel says
Really interesting Roobens. I’ve thought travel insurance wasn’t that useful for quite a while. Something you almost never uses. Thanks for shedding light further on it. Great post
Thank you! Travel insurance is very useful 🙂
Edwina Golombek says
You completely lost me with World Nomads as a recommendation..I had a stroke in Spain and they were beyond distressing..very hard to contact and tried every trick in the book to not pay..they left me to manage how to get home over land and sea and I had NO contact with them when hospitalized…they are the most revolting,m disgusting company..
Sad to hear that… I only had good experiences with them. Other travelers I know were also satisfied with World Nomads. You’re actually the first one I know saying this.
Travel insurance is a thing that 9/10 times you won’t need it, but once you do it really saves a LOT of money. My friend had an accident while biking and hurt his leg really badly, but the leg did not break, so we thought that it’s not going to cost a lot once we called an ambulance. For a few stitches, he had to pay 900Eu while the insurance would’ve cost only 40Eu for those days. It was a disaster for the guy once he saw the bill, we paid it but felt so stupid that this one time we thought we would not need the insurance since nothing happened before. Also, keep in mind that insurance won’t cover anything if somebody hacked your laptop or anything similar, so I really agree with the point that you should get a VPN, something like NordVPN (because it’s cheaper than ExpressVPN and works the same if not better in some cases)
Yeah travel insurance is helpful, you realize it when you need it. Regarding VPNs, you decide. NordVPN is cheaper but to me, it was slower (and I’m not only one saying this). I prefer ExpressVPN.