Travel insurance isn’t exactly the type of thing to inspire wanderlust. The only photos to tantalize you to buy a plan are off the grimace-inducing variety. From canceled flights to injuries to stolen goods, travel insurance ensures you don’t get caught out with a sky-high bill if coconuts hit the fan. In this guide, we’ll reveal what to look for when choosing the right travel insurance plan for you.
Tips for choosing the right travel insurance plan
1. Choose a plan that will cover your destination
This seems like a no brainer, right? Well, the day before a trip to East Timor, I made the prudent decision to purchase a travel insurance plan. Because I was going to multiple countries, I opted for a plan that claimed to cover all of Southeast Asia. It wasn’t until I’d already paid and read the fine print that I saw East Timor was not included in the ‘Southeast Asia’ coverage. I switched from Insureandgo to World Nomads to be covered on my journey.
During my trip to East Timor, I ended up needing medical treatment for an antibiotic-resistant infection. Had I still been on my initial plan, I wouldn’t have had the comfort of knowing my treatment would be covered. Don’t blanket trust that a region covers your destination — ensure the country you’ll be visiting is included.
2. Choose a plan that will cover your activities
If you’re simply going to lounge on the beach, you might not need a plan that covers adventure activities. However, some travel insurance companies do not cover what they consider ‘high risk’ activities–or only do so to a certain extent. Adventure activities like scuba diving, hiking (3,000m elevation and above), snorkeling, bungy jumping, skydiving, ziplining, often cost extra in a plan. If you do venture out on these activities during your trip, be sure to stay within the limits of your insurance. For example, travel insurance only covers scuba divers to the depth that their certification allows.
3. Take care with car and motorbike rentals
Motorbikes are often the preferred form of transport in destinations like Bali, where just about every tourist seems to whiz around the island in flip flops and without a helmet. Motorbike accidents are one of the largest causes of injury and death overseas, and many travel insurance companies will not cover the costs incurred during a motorbike accident if the person was not licensed to drive a motorbike. The same goes for car accidents.
4. Assess the value of your belongings and include them in your plan
If you’re traveling with expensive camera gear, jewelry, loads of cash, or have something you’d rather not need to replace, consider adding an extension in your plan to cover the cost of your goods if they get lost, damaged, or stolen. The basic level of travel insurance plans don’t tend to cover what a nice camera or wedding ring would be. If you don’t want to purchase insurance, it’s best to leave the item behind. I learned this the hard way when my brand new drone was stolen. Because it was uninsured, I was left to purchase a new one out of pocket.
5. Choose the right claim payment policy
There are two ways to make a claim for your travel insurance should things to bad.
- The most common is reimbursement where you need to shell out money from your pocket and submit the receipts afterwards for reimbursement.
- Direct payment is when the insurance provider pays for the costs directly.
If you don’t have a large savings account, opt for an insurance plan with a direct payment claim policy.
What insurance to get?
I recommend World Nomads, as I’ve had a positive experience with them during my trip to East Timor. World Nomads had a nurse call me regularly, and advised me on the next steps to take. Fortunately, I never required any serious medical treatment, but having the peace of mind was a gamechanger when it came to stress. Tropical Go! is an affiliate partner of World Nomads, which means the website may earn a commission on any travel insurance plan purchased at no extra cost to you. But, I’ve been using World Nomads years before travel writing, and it’s the plan I get whenever I embark on a new adventure.