I used to think I didn’t need a travel insurance and the worst thing that could happen to me would be to get a cold or the flu, in which case, I would self-medicate.
But experience has proved to me how vital it is to pay for a good travel insurance before you leave, because you never know what might happen: I hurt my knee really badly while exercising in Canada and what I thought was piddling at first, turned out to be much more serious and needed surgical intervention.
People often think that a travel insurance solely covers medical cares, but a good company will also reimburse loss, damages, theft, flight cancellation and emergency evacuation, only to give you a few examples. It’s the single most important thing you should purchase prior to travelling. As the saying goes, better be safe than sorry: You don’t want to find yourself stuck in a situation where you need expensive medical care that you cannot afford; lose your passport, get your bag, jewelry, laptop or camera stolen – like my friend who didn’t have an insurance and got her wallet robbed at the airport on the very day she arrived in Barcelona, or another friend who got her bag stolen in Barcelona twice in matters of months – and don’t know who to turn to or have to purchase (pricey) new gear out of your pocket. You must protect yourself: your health and your belongings.
With the host of companies in the market, it can be hard to distinguish trust worthy travel insurances from the other ones. Here are a few points you should look for in a good travel insurance:
High medical coverage limit
100,000 $ is a great start and you should absolutely not go lower. You want to make sure that you will be covered for hospitalization bills that can be ridiculously high, pharmaceutical expenses, emergency evacuation to your home country if needed and transportation to the hospital. Imagine taking a 30,000$ coverage plan, going abroad for a few months and breaking your leg while hiking or jogging. You would have to pay for a first consultation to the Doctor’s, who will most likely send you to a radiologist in order to complete an MRI exam (which is super expensive), then return to the Doctor’s and have your leg fixed. Before you know it you will have reached the 30,000$ limit and will have to support future potential medical cares yourself, simply because you refused to pay a few hundred dollars on a good insurance.
Coverage for loss, theft & damages
In the event that you lose valuables, get robbed or your luggage is damaged, you should be covered as well. Most travel insurances cover up to 500$ of valuables, which is not a lot, so you should have the option to obtain a higher coverage limit for valuables. (I bet your laptop, your phone or your camera cost much more than 500$.)
24 hour Travel & Medical Assistance
You should be able to call the company at any given time if anything happens to you.
My favorite travel insurances:
World Nomads & AIG for the same reasons: Claims are processed quickly, the staff is extremely friendly, they check up on you regularly to make sure you’re okay until your problem is solved, great coverage plan, easy to renew your plan.
Although some companies are great and offer flawless medical assistance with the most caring and friendliest staff, their goal is to make money and they don’t do so by spending dollars on you every time you’re sick, lose valuables or get robbed. They will try to find ways to avoid paying you or will try to pay the least amount of money possible.
For instance, if the costs of treating an injury or illness abroad is higher than it would come to if the company paid for a roundtrip ticket so you could go back to your home country and be treated there, they will put you in the first flight back home.
Read your contract attentively before leaving, so you know exactly what to do and what to expect if something happens to you.
When you get sick, make sure you keep all your prescriptions and bills because you will need them to be reimbursed and don’t wait too long after your accident occurred, to let the insurance know about it. Call them straight away, because oftentimes, the contract stipulates that you have up to 15 days following the accident to inform the insurance, otherwise they won’t pay you back.
Pick a travel insurance that matches your needs and the type of trip you’re about to take. If you intend to do a lot of risky activities, make sure your insurance covers that as well. In any case, don’t go cheap with your insurance. Don’t play with your health, especially when you’re far from home.