Travel Insurance is a side to travel that no one likes to organize. Trudging through policy after policy trying to figure out what’s right for you is not exactly something you want to be doing when you should be doing exciting things like reading guide books and watching the travel channel. However, it’s definitely something all travelers need to sort out before they leave.
The kind of policy you go for will depend on where you are traveling to, how long you will be traveling for and how much coverage you want. It’s a personal preference what options you choose but there are certain things you should be looking out for no matter what kind of trip you’re going on. Here are a few pointers to get you started on your way to finding exactly the right insurance policy to suit you.Is travel insurance necessary?
The first question you want to ask yourself is, ‘Do I need travel insurance?’ The answer should be yes, however, if you are going on a short trip you can some times get coverage through your existing insurance policy. Check to ensure you have adequate cover if you go down this path.
If you’re going on an extended trip I would definitely recommend getting a thorough policy to cover you. That way you can travel safe in the knowledge that the insurance company has your back if anything goes wrong. This is especially the case in countries where there is a lot of disease, a high crime rate, or if you’re going to be taking part in any kind of adventure activity that’s a little more high risk.
Finding the right Travel Insurance policy
When searching for the right insurance you need to think about what’s most important to you and what kind of claim might come up, if any. There are insurance search engines that will give you plenty of companies to choose from, but many people go from recommendations from friends who have had good experiences with a certain company in the past.
Sometimes internet reviews can be useful in this respect, as insurance companies can seem reputable on their website but there might be bad reviews online because they’re funny about paying out when you do make a claim. Make sure you are selective on which reviews you trust, however, as a bad review could come from someone who just didn’t read the small print properly and ultimately that’s their fault.
You also need to ensure the policy will cover you if you are traveling for an extended time. Some agencies only cover up to 12 months and are not renewable so double check this if you are traveling longer than 3 months.
The single most important part of insurance is to make sure you’re covered for medical. The standard policy should give you about $5,000,000 emergency medical assistance, and that will cover you for most eventualities. Make sure you also look out for repatriation cover, i.e. they will fly you back home if needs be.
Consider the kind of activities you might be doing on your trip and make sure that the policy you’re looking into will cover you for those activities. For example, you will need extra cover for extreme and winter sports on almost any policy you find, and most companies give you the option of adding this cover on when you’re buying the policy. It will of course boost the price a little, but well worth it if you are partaking in these kind of activities.
The other section that most people look at is personal baggage and valuables cover. For people who are just traveling with the usual basic camera, maybe a cell phone, and not a lot more in terms of expensive electronics, basic cover should suffice if anything gets lost, damaged, or stolen. If you have more than that, you will need to read the policy wording to see how much is given to single items and make sure it covers the price of what you paid for the item. Some companies will allow you to add extra cover for your valuables, which again increases the price a little but it’s worth it when something goes wrong.
One big tip here – you will probably need proof of purchase when you’re making a claim on an electronic device that’s been lost or stolen. If you don’t have your receipt, take photos of the items with the serial number clearly visible, and find the transaction in your bank statements if you can. Not all companies will accept that as a proof of purchase, but it will at least give you a leg to stand on if you have to make a claim and they start hesitating on payments.
You will want to ensure that your policy covers emergency evacuation. The last thing you want is to be stranded on the side of a hill after a fall because you can’t afford someone to come rescue you. Likewise you want to be covered for an evacuation in case of a natural disaster (e.g. earthquake).
A policy should also cover you for cancellations. Make sure it covers ALL the costs for the trip, such as airline and other transport costs, hotel expenses and any excursions you may have booked (For example part of a cruise). Likewise make sure it covers you for costs associated with if a company goes bankrupt. Last thing you want is to be stranded in a foreign country because an Airline has gone bust.
Also, make sure you check that you are covered for all the countries you wish to travel, or may travel to (some countries are excluded or you pay a premium).
Reading the small print
It’s a very boring and laborious task, having to read the small print, but with insurance you really can’t be too careful. The last thing you want is an insurance company denying your claim because of something you missed in the policy wording that made your entire policy defunct in the first place. If you’re going to fork out for insurance, at least make it worth it by ensuring that everything you need to be covered absolutely is.
Medical and personal baggage are the sections you really should be looking at, but there might be a few more that are important to you because of the specific trip you’re going on. Most insurance policies come with a ‘Keywords document’, which will give you the lowdown on your policy and the main points that you should know. Having a read through this, which is usually only a few pages long, will give you most of the information you need to know without having to trawl through your documents and reading the entire thing.
If in doubt, the best thing you can do is to call the insurance company to clarify their policies around a certain point you’re not too sure about. Hearing it from another human being should put your mind at ease if you’re not sure on something, and if they refuse to pay out for a claim for some reason you can at least say that you spoke to someone in the company and were told otherwise.
Making the choice
There are some great Insurance Companies out there and we suggest you complete some research to determine which policies suit you best. After looking into several Insurance Companies you will generally find a couple of policies that look good. It’s then easy to get some quotes and go from there. The Travel Insurance we have found to suit our needs best is Travel Insurance and is very popular among travelers.
Once you find a good insurance company that you trust, it’s like finding a golden ticket. The process to find it in the first place can be long-winded and dull, but once you have a good insurance company behind your travels, you can globetrot stress free and know that you’re supported by a solid policy that won’t mess you around.
And after all that work, let’s hope you never have to use it.