Buying travel insurance is possibly the least exciting part of planning a trip. However, it is necessary. In fact, it’s a must. As the famous saying goes, “Better safe than sorry”.
The aim of this post is not to highlight the importance of getting insured, but to help you choose the right insurance package for your travel plans. There are hundreds of insurance companies out there, most of them offering very similar packages, however there are a few things you need to consider when shopping for the best travel insurance.
First, a few tips…
Purchase your travel insurance as soon as you finalise your travel plans and bookings. Your travel insurance shouldn’t just cover you for the duration of your trip, but you also want to be compensated for anything that might go wrong before you leave, including sudden illness and death. Read the cancellation policy carefully to make sure you’re covered in case of unexpected events, such as burglary, jury duty or illness.
Taking care of your travel insurance early also gives you time to shop around. Compare prices, conditions and exclusions. Before buying travel insurance, you might also want to check whether you’re insured via your credit card. If you have paid for your purchases, such as flights and accommodation, with your credit card, you might be entitled to compensation in the case of lost luggage, delays and cancellations.
Oh, and remember to read the fine print!
Things to consider
1. Are you a frequent traveller?
If you travel more than three times a year, you might want to consider getting an annual subscription. This might be cheaper than buying travel insurance every time you go abroad. If you do decide to take out an annual policy, make sure you check that it covers all the countries you plan to travel to. Some insurance providers don’t cover travel to countries that are considered ‘high risk’.
2. Do you have a pre-existing medical condition?
If you suffer from chronic health issues, like asthma, you need to be extra careful when purchasing travel insurance as some policies do not cover pre-existing medical conditions (this also includes mental issues like anxiety and depression). Some insurance providers require you to declare any pre-existing conditions when filling out the insurance form, and you will need to pay an extra fee for coverage.
3. Are you a thrill-seeker?
Planning a ski trip or want to try your hand at an extreme sport? Most standard insurance packages do not cover injuries or deaths caused by ‘dangerous activities’. Be prepared to pay an extra fee for your thrill-seeking activities.
If you’re thinking of renting a car or any other vehicle, you need to check to see if this is covered in the policy. There might be strict requirements for compensation in the case of a road accident, such as being in possession of a valid driving licence and wearing the appropriate safety gear.
4. Do you travel with a lot of gadgets?
Whether you’re an avid photographer, a digital nomad or a gadget geek, you want to make sure that your electronics are covered. Many insurance providers have value limit on each item, so make sure it’s high enough to cover the value of your laptop, camera, phone, etc.
If you’re travelling with expensive gear, you may need to buy a more comprehensive policy, one that offers sufficient coverage for personal belongings.
Worried about pick-pocketing? Invest in a good anti-theft bag.
5. Is your destination prone to natural disasters?
Heading to a destination that is often hit by severe weather conditions or is prone to natural disasters, like earthquakes? Some insurance policies do not cover natural disasters and other ‘acts of god’. Sometimes unexpected events like uprisings or acts of terrorism are also excluded.
If you’re a firm believer in Murphy’s Law and want to be financially protected against all the things that could go wrong, choose an insurance policy that covers natural disasters and extreme weather, as well as uprisings, commotion and terrorism.
Looking for a policy that covers long-term travel? SafetyWing offers travel medical insurance for frequent travellers and digital nomads, which you can purchase as a subscription – just choose a start date and it will automatically extend until you cancel. The policy includes worldwide coverage (except in Cuba, Iran, and North Korea) and also covers limited trips back to your home country (for 30 days within every 90-day subscription period, or 15 days if you’re from the US).
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