You’ve booked you holiday but have you taken out insurance?
I don’t want to sound holier than thou but in our opinion, if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. One mishap can totally bankrupt you or your family and who doesn’t want to be back in their home country ASAP if anything goes seriously wrong.
5 Reasons to have travel insurance
1. Medical assistance is very basic or practically non-existent in many places we visit. You might ask why the hell we would want to go to these places, but that’s another story. The fact is we do and we are very aware that if we get hurt or come down very ill we need to get out to somewhere we can be treated properly as soon as possible.
2. If there is “International standard” medical assistance, it can be very, very expensive. We can budget in the insurance policy no problems but we’d be stuffed if we had an extra $10 – $50,000 or more to fork out because we didn’t have insurance.
3. Despite the fact we travel very cheaply we are considered extremely wealthy in developing countries. Whilst we have never had anything stolen and are extremely careful with our security, our cameras, computers and other bits and pieces are worth more than many people’s monthly or even annual salary. 99% of people in most countries are honest and wouldn’t dream of stealing despite the fact are so poor. However, there is always the minority and obviously a temptation there. One slip and they’re gone and they would be very expensive to replace.
4. We like to push the boundaries when we travel. Yes that road/bus/boat looks a bit dangerous but the experience we will have will be worth the risk a thousand times over. We’ve been in a micro-light over Victoria Falls, sky dived in New Zealand and both have our diving licenses. We quite often hire a small motorcycle and go travelling around country roads at our own pace. All of these activities have their inherent risk. You definitely have to make sure these activities are covered under your policy but it’s nice to know if things do goes wrong you have support.
5. It may not be you that gets sick or dies. What happens if one of your close family falls gravely ill or passes away? Wouldn’t you want to get home as quickly as possible? Of course there are exclusions around pre-existing conditions but at least with those you can make an informed decision before you leave town. It’s the unexpected circumstances that you’re insuring against.
We have been overseas on and off for almost 10 years. We have usually insured with Covermore, although for our next trip to the Caribbean we have insured with World Nomads. We still stand by Covermore as one of the best policies for Australians, but we needed to get the insurance while already on the road in Europe (not most policies require you to depart and return from your home country within the time span of the policy). In addition, World Nomads had better and cheaper coverage for the Caribbean for the activities we’ll be doing (sailing in international waters.) Even with our recommendations, it does pay to compare a couple of policies.
When Tim was ill twice in Vietnam last year, Covermore were awesome. They had great support while he was being treated and gave us a full refund of all our costs without any argument. We got back over 2 years premiums just in one episode and almost another year in the second. And trust me, $3000 USD the first time would have played havoc with our budget, ditto with $700 in the second. But more importantly than the money, I felt they were actually concerned about Tim’s welfare and how I was coping. At one stage we thought he might require surgery and I was tossing up whether to have him evacuated back home. Thankfully it didn’t come to that but I really felt they had our backs if the need did arise. They even offered to pay the costs upfront when I contacted them day 1 of the episode. I didn’t accept the offer because I’d already handed over our credit card details to the International Hospital, but it was comforting to know they would have done that.
Both Covermore and World Nomads cover the activities we like to participate in and have different levels of policy to cover our various trips. However, I think World Nomads’ website makes it easier to ensure you have all your bases covered. Both prepared to extend a long-term policy for over twelve months at a time and their websites are easy to use for quotes, purchase and claims.
A few tips for choosing your insurance policy:
- Choose a company with a good reputation and who has been around for a long time. You don’t want your insurance company to go under while you’re on the road or you might be stuck.
- Read reviews from customers (and not just those the insurer promotes on their website!). You have to read between the lines though. The rules are pretty clear on making claims and some people will definitely try and push the boundaries and then whine if they’re not successful. I find Trustpilot a good source of independent reviews.
- Read the policy so you know what is and what’s not included. Clarify anything you are not sure of in writing BEFORE you go… Motorbike riding and sailing in international waters are just two of the things I’ve clarified. Eg. Even though I have a motorcycle license in Australia, I would not be covered in Vietnam UNLESS I had a valid Vietnamese licence. The reason being, neither Australian, nor the usual International licenses are recognised and I would therefore be riding illegally. and yes, I do now have a valid Vietnamese motorcycle license as the potential for injury in the crazy traffic is very high.
- Make sure you have a policy that includes your destination. We travelled for around 12 months in Asia with 5 weeks in Japan which normally attracts a higher premium. We clarified with Covermore in writing if we were covered by the Asian Policy even though we were visiting Japan because the majority of our time was in other countries in the lower band.
- Make sure they offer 24 hour assistance with a free call number from overseas. I do not want to wait for “office hours” to kick in before I get some action. By the time I got home from the hospital in Ho Chi Minh City it was midnight in Australia. I still got an exceptionally professional, caring and helpful response from the international contact line.
- Make sure you itemize any special items of extra value and pay the extra premium if necessary. The last thing you want is to have a disappointing exclusion or be out of pocket if the worst happens.
Once you’ve taken out the policy:
- Copy it and give it to at least one or two trusted people in your home country who can provide the information if you lose yours or are unable to provide it because you are incapacitated. Keep their contact details somewhere they can be found if you are unable to provide them. I email ours to both my, and Tim’s sisters, who can provide details if required.
- Make sure any travelling companions or the company you are travelling with have a copy of your policy and the emergency numbers. If you are out of action, at least they can initiate contact with the company.
- Ensure you have a list of stuff you are taking on your holiday, including any receipts if possible. That will make any claims so much easier.
- Ensure you contact the police if anything gets stolen. Don’t believe for one minute they will be of much help in recovering anything but you MUST get a police report detailing the event to make a successful claim.
- Remember – insurance is for the unexpected. Sure, make a claim for everything you are entitled to but don’t abuse the system, it just makes premiums more expensive for the rest of us.
Disclosure: Covermore and World Nomads are our affiliate partners and do pay us a small commission if you take out a policy via our website. However, we have used them, have been happy with them, would recommend them to friends and family and will use them again without hesitation. We would love to have your opinion on this subject, especially if you have had an experience with Covermore or World Nomads…GOOOD or BAD. So please leave a comment below.