Sitting on the back of a tuk tuk on the way down a windy gravel and mud road in Laos chatting to an English guy I’d just met I remarked that he looked a little nervous. “It’s funny actually; I checked my travel insurance policy this morning. I got the cheapest one you see and all it covers me for is ‘return of body’. Isn’t that funny?” I tried to laugh to reassure him but it came out funny. I cleared my throat and asked how much longer he had until he was home instead.
Most travellers understand that they need travel insurance. We’ve all heard the stories about people in horrid situations: huge medical bills, having to chancel trips and not get any of their money back and even natural disasters they can’t get out of. I’m not saying any of this to scare my readers but to put it in perspective. Sure when you’re planning a budget trip, travel insurance can seem like a lot of money to spend on just one thing but it’s really not. Having good travel insurance can be vital.
One of the first things I do is check out if the company I’m purchasing travel insurance from is really suitable for my trip: are they a big international company? Do they offer travel insurance for all of the places I am visiting? Do they have an international number I can call anywhere in the world, at any time if I have a problem? I have yet to see an insurer who doesn’t offer this but it’s important to make sure all your needs are met before taking out travel insurance, right?
I make sure I read the fine print as well, do they cover everything that I hope I won’t need like emergency evacuation, cancellation waivers (like those cruise ships have), activities I plan to partake in on my trip (ie,. Skiing, motorcycle riding, etc). Are my valuables to their actual value? I don’t have any medical conditions that need to be covered for but you might, make sure your insurer covers for them as well.
I like to pick a few policies, usually three or four from companies I know and like and compare them. As I’ve done a whole lot of travel I’ve used a few insurers for different trips so know who’s been awesome in the past and compare them all to get the best deal on my upcoming trip. If you’ve never had travel insurance ask your friends who they’ve gone with and what they thought of them. This helps if they have had to make a claim as well.
Something worth considering as well when you’re comparing prices is how often you will be travelling in the next twelve months or so. In the past I found that booking a multi-trip policy worked for me as long as I wasn’t going away for more than six weeks at a time.
You want to take your time deciding on which travel insurance policy you need: weigh up your options, cost, benefits and your actual needs before you make a decision. If you’ve allowed yourself time, let yourself sleep on it. It’s not a small decision by any means.
When you’re insured, print off your insurance policy details and leave a copy of them with someone at home with all your other photocopies and itinerary. If your bag gets stolen someone at home can begin the claim for you or at least provide you with the right number to call when you contact them about your bad luck on the road.