One of the topics most often raised by travelers when planning their trip is the importance of taking out travel insurance. Is it mandatory? Is it really useful?… I’m not going to lie to you, this is the step that everyone dreads, because there’s a lot of information out there, and it can get quite confusing. Plus, choosing an insurance can also be a hurdle, as there are so many factors to consider before you even make a decision.

All this can really add to the stress of your planning and make you lose patience. So, is it really essential to take out insurance when you go abroad, and is it worth the extra budget?

Let me give you my honest opinion on the subject as well as a few tips to help you choose the travel insurance that’s right for you!

Save it for later!

The importance of travel insurance

Travel insurance - Policy paper with a magnifying glass
Photo by Vlad Deep on Unsplash

1. Accidents

Things happen, and unfortunately so do accidents, so if something does happen to you, you’ll be glad you chose a good insurance policy!

You never know whether you’ll need to go to the hospital after a minor injury, or whether you’ll need to make an emergency visit to the dentist, for example. Some people will tell you that in some parts of the world, these things are cheap and you can get by without insurance. But, and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, in some cases the bill can be very high if you haven’t bought one… Nobody wants to pay a few thousand dollars in the event of a serious incident, do they?

I still remember when l got sick in Thailand and couldn’t eat anything. Because I didn’t know what was the issue, I went straight to the hospital, and I can assure you I was glad to have my insurance at the time!

I’ve only used mine once or twice in 10 years of backpacking, but as any seasoned traveler will tell you: “better safe than sorry“. So keep that in mind and ALWAYS buy travel insurance!

2. Peace of mind

Want to know what my number one advantage in buying medical coverage is? Peace of mind, of course! Just knowing that I’m covered in the event of a problem is like a comforting safety net.

I can focus on my trip and enjoy every moment without having that little voice in my head telling me to be careful with every step or preventing me from doing fun activities. Because yes, insurance often offers the possibility of covering certain activities you might want to do abroad, so you don’t have to pay extra at the last minute.

After all, we’re all here to have fun and make the most of our vacations, aren’t we?

3. Tailored needs

You know the best thing about choosing medical coverage? It’s that you can tailor it to your own needs and standards, for example if you suffer from a particular medical condition. Elderly people sometimes need special attention that discourages them from traveling. That’s where the travel insurance comes into play!

4. Baggage loss & flight delay

Travel coverage - airplane on the ground

Who hasn’t been afraid of losing their luggage after checking it in? I sure have, and even though I’m a girl who tends to travel with a carry-on only, sometimes I can’t do without checked luggage, especially when I’m abroad for a long time.

So I feel sorry to the airlines, but I don’t trust them enough or maybe it’s my luck that I don’t believe in, but in any case I’m not confident enough to entrust my belongings to them, especially when you consider how many pieces of baggage are lost or damaged every year: millions, if you must know.

Plus, after what happened to me in Indonesia (one of the only times I decided to check my luggage), I can say for sure that I’m not about to repeat the experience. Anyway, after being informed that my luggage had probably been mishandled, if not lost, on a connecting flight, I was happy to know that my insurance was ready to compensate for the financial loss. Don’t worry though, I was lucky enough to get my favorite backpack back 24 hours later, but simply knowing there was support behind still reassured me.

And the same goes for flight delays. As frustrating as it can be, travel insurance also often covers this aspect, making your travels a breeze, or at least a less stressful time.

5. Theft

Traveling isn’t always chid’s play, far from it, and if on top of that your belongings are stolen, I’d say it’s a real headache. As with lost baggage, insurance usually covers you for theft of personal effects such as luggage, but also your passport or money. So I know it’s far from ideal and your holiday will probably be ruined, but at least you’ll be compensated for the stolen items.

Still better than losing everything and having to manage on your own.

How to choose your travel insurance

Many factors come into play when you have to decide the insurance best suited to your needs. Here are the four main variables to take into account before making your choice!

1. Budget

Of course, budget is of the utmost importance when you’re looking at the different packages available. An insurance is definitely an extra cost, but the benefits you’ll gain in the event of a regrettable incident are not to be neglected.

So, before you even book your flights, think about what a medical cover might cost you, and remember that in the long run, it will actually help you save money!

2. Coverage

It’s true that some insurances are very comprehensive and cover pretty much every aspect of your trip, but this isn’t always the case, so you need to read the policy carefully before you consider taking it out.

Check the essential features that all medical coverage must have: medical expenses, loss, delay, repatriation, personal liability, cancellation or missed departure.

3. Age

I’m sorry to break it to you, but the older you get, the more you pay, at least when it comes to travel insurance. The rule is that from the age of 65 onwards, you pay more because you’re supposedly more likely to fall ill and/or have complications if an accident happen.

And even though I’ve seen older people in better health than younger people, that’s just the way it is, and since insurance is vital for both young and old, there’s nothing you can do about it.

4. Single-trip or multi-trip

Travel insurance - Earth globe
Photo by CHUTTERSNAP on Unsplash

It basically comes down to the question: are you a frequent traveler or not? If so, a multi-destination policy may be the right choice for you, as you won’t have to take out one for every trip you make, since this insurance will cover you for every one of them over the course of a year. Plus, it’s usually cheaper than taking out multiple policies if you’re planning more than two trips in a year.

Single-trip insurance, on the other hand, is the perfect option for those who intend to take a long trip of any duration and come home. By the way, single-trip doesn’t mean you can only travel to one destination, you can visit as many countries as you want and your policy will cover you from the moment you leave your home country until you return.

> Don’t forget that countries are also a factor in the price of your insurance, as some of them have costlier healthcare expenses (the USA and Canada being at the top of the list).

When take out travel insurance

The best answer I can give you is to do it right after you’ve booked your trip. The sooner you take it out, the less stressed you’ll feel. It’s better to get rid of the annoying and tedious task first, isn’t it?

Tips

As the process can be quite confusing and troublesome, here are some tips you can use to navigate the depths of the insurance world!

1. Compare & read reviews

Travel insurance - sign with various directions
Photo by Javier Allegue Barros on Unsplash

You may hear about some popular insurances on TV or through other channels, but I still recommend that you make your own opinion by comparing several medical coverages and reading reviews about them. Here’s the SquareMouth comparator if you need some help!

You can also ask your fellow travel enthusiasts for advice, because nothing quite beats the real experience of someone you know and trust!

And don’t hesitate to ask other travelers for their opinions in Facebook groups, for example, or in other social medias if you don’t have friends with the same hobbies as you.

2. Check for deductibles

First of all, what is a deductible? It’s what determines the amount you’ll have to pay if you file a claim with your insurance. In other words, how much you’ll have to pay out of your own pocket before your insurance will cover the expenses.

Personally, I think it’s best to choose a $0 deductible (and most insurances will actually offer you this option) as it will give you more peace of mind and the actual benefits of a deductible other than 0 are, in fact, not that great. So be sure to check carefully before you purchase your medical coverage.

3. Ask your bank

What I mean by this is that some credit card policies may already include travel insurance. So to make sure you’re not buying unnecessary coverage, check with your bank beforehand to see if this is the case!

4. Only purchase the extras you really need

Every add-on option certainly comes at an additional cost so before you purchase any, think twice and check whether your hotel or flight booking doesn’t already come with a cancellation option. It would be a shame to lose money on something that’s already included!

The same goes for insurance packages: if you’re not adventurous, or don’t plan on engage in dangerous or unusual activities, there’s no need to pay extra for it!

5. Always be honest

Especially when it comes to your health, because not only this could be detrimental to you, but if anything unfortunate occurs and the insurance company discovers that you’ve lied, your contract will be cancelled immediately. So don’t forget to mention any health issues you may have!

My personal choices

  • World Nomads: budget-friendly and great for adventurous travelers.
  • Heymondo: best value for money.

FAQ

Is travel insurance expensive?

There are many options available but don’t worry: you can find one that suit your needs, but also your budget! If you want to save money without sacrificing the quality of coverage, consider not buying the extras!

Can I do without insurance?

Although I wouldn’t recommend it, you can absolutely do without it because it’s not mandatory in all countries, but if something happens to you, you could end up pay hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. Not ideal, is it?

What is the “cancel for any reason” option in travel insurance?

This additional option allows you to cancel your trip, at least 48 hours before departure, for any reason not covered by your policy, and obtain a partial refund. This add-on is not always available, so verify in advance whether it can be included in your contract.

What is “home country coverage”?

For those of us who tend to travel for long periods of time, returning home can be difficult both mentally and administratively, as you’ll probably have to wait a while before you’re registered again under your domestic insurance plan. This is when the “home country coverage” protects you for up to 3 months (depending on the length of your trip). Pretty sweet, isn’t it?

Travel insurance isn’t just important, it’s essential for any traveler who wants to enjoy a stress-free vacation. Traveling is an amazing experience, but one little incident can quickly ruin all your dreams and your carefully planned journey, so do yourself a favor and take out insurance before you set off on your next adventure!

And if you want to save money when planning your summer trip, I’ve got you covered!

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16 Comments

  1. Thanks for this! I just bought some insurance. Hubby over 65 so wow! The price was a shocker. I have had friends who have traveled without insurance–even one who needed medically evacuated–and the care they needed cost way more than the policy. Get your insurance friends!

    1. Yes, it’s proof that travel insurance is essential! Unfortunately, you never know what might happen…
      Thanks for your comment, Peggy and safe travels! 😊

  2. The security that travel insurance brings to a work or vacation getaway is reassuring. It is one of the most important purchases when you travel abroad.

  3. If you’re planning on hitting the open road (or the skies), do yourself a favor and invest in some good old travel insurance. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but trust me, it’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. When the unexpected happens, you’ll be glad you have that safety net to fall back on.

    1. It’s true! Even if this represents an additional cost, there’s nothing like traveling with peace of mind! Thanks for your support and comment, Anthuwin!

  4. Informative post. I took out travel insurance before just in case of an accident. Seems like a money-making venture for the visiting country. However, some credit cards offer accidental insurance up to $30,000 when you book a car rental using the same card.

    1. Yes, it’s always a good idea to check your credit card policy before buying insurance to see if you’re already covered. Thanks for your comment, Kevin, and safe travels! 😊

  5. Thank you for explaining insurance and pros and cons. I personally always buy insurance as this will give me piece of mind.

  6. 100% agree – when it comes to travel insurance, it’s better to be safe than sorry! In my almost 30 years of travelling, I’ve always had travel insurance, but fortunately, I’ve never needed to use it! Still, I wouldn’t leave the country without it!

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