TRAVEL INSURANCE GUIDE - DON'T LET YOUR DREAM TRIP TURN INTO A NIGHTMARE
Travel insurance is SO important. It's something many don't look into properly or let run out during their trip. This shouldn't happen because accidents and theft can occur on the road -- you need to make sure you're completely covered.
If you need emergency medical treatment while abroad and don't have travel insurance, you're at risk of being left with an extremely expensive bill and/or medical care being stopped.
If your bags, personal belongings or expensive valuables are stolen or lost, your travel insurance will help compensate and replace these items.
The price of travel insurance will depend on the policies of the company, the length of your trip, your age, any existing medical conditions and which parts of the world you are travelling to.
Don't let your dream trip turn into a nightmare on the road! You want a company that's easy to contact while away and that will cover you fully for everywhere you're going and what you're planning on doing.
WHAT YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE SHOULD BE COVERING YOU FOR
The more that's included below can increase the price of your Travel Insurance but if you need it, you need it!
LOST OR STOLEN GOODS This is so your baggage or personal items are protected and replaced if lost or stolen. The insurance company will have a policy that will state the maximum amount you can claim for. REMEMBER: Being careless with your possessions will mean this cover may not apply. If you haven't even tried to keep your items safe, your insurance will be unwilling to pay out.
EXPENSIVE ITEMS Personal belongings such as your smartphone, camera, laptop and GoPro may require some extra cover. If you will be carrying a lot of these items with you, then additional cover is a good idea. REMEMBER: Again, not looking after these items while you're away in hostels, buses, trains can result in your cover not applying. Always lock away items and never leave valuables unattended.
EACH COUNTRY YOU WILL BE VISITING Some travel insurance will only cover you for Europe, or United States or Australia/New Zealand. You need to purchase cover for everywhere you're planning on visiting so you will have protection world wide.
LENGTH OF TRIP It doesn't matter if your trip is 2 weeks, 3 months, 6 months or 2 years -- you really should take out cover that lasts for as long as you're away. I make sure I'm insured longer than I originally plan in case my trip is extended. (Plans change and it's never easy going home)
SPECIFIC ACTIVITIES It's very important to make sure you're covered for extra special activities such as bungee-jumping, scuba diving, rock climbing, skiing or surfing because you're more than likely going to be doing a lot of these adventurous things while backpacking! You may think you're automatically covered but this is sometimes not the case -- additional cover should be taken out for adventurous activities if you think you may do them. Companies can include cover from camel riding to motorbiking to hot-air ballooning!
MEDICAL COVER You should really be covered for any accidents, injuries or sudden illnesses that may occur on your travels (touch wood) Your medical cover can even go as far as emergency evacuation and repatriation by air ambulance which means you will be able to return to your own country in an emergency. You may not be covered for pre-existing medical conditions so you must state if you have any in your original quote and request extra coverage if needed. REMEMBER: Wild night outs and stupid antics will mean your cover will not apply if you hurt yourself. Travel insurance companies are strict when it comes to alcohol fuelled incidents/accidents!
ACCIDENTAL DEATH & DISMEMBERMENT This is for the absolute worst case scenario but your travel insurance can cover you for serious horrible events like your body being taken back home, loss of eyesight or a limb while travelling and by paying out a lump sum to your next of kin if you die.
CANCELLATIONS & DELAYS If an unexpected illness, natural disaster or some other sudden circumstance happens, the loss costs of your trip will be refunded. Long delays can occur, and if you have paid out on a things like a new hotel or food then your expenses should be reimbursed.
ACCIDENTS AT WORK If you're planning on working while you're away like teaching, farm work or hospitality then you should look into extra coverage that take care of you if any accidents occur. My boyfriend and I have both had more than one medical incident while working abroad -- make sure you're protected!
RENTAL CAR If you're planning an epic road-trip or staying in a camper-van then extra coverage is a smart idea. Your travel insurance will cover you if your vehicle is stolen, damaged (accident, weather) or vandalised --- basically anything that isn't your fault!
6 THINGS TO REMEMBER WHEN LOOKING FOR TRAVEL INSURANCE
#1 PURCHASE TRAVEL INSURANCE IN ADVANCE BEFORE YOU LEAVE
Don't leave it too late! You can only take out complete travel insurance prior to your travel date (you can't take it out once you have started your backpacking trip) and the longer you leave it there will be more of a chance you will need it. You can't take out insurance for something that's already happened.
#2 USE TRAVEL COMPARISON SITES
#3 CHEAPEST MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST
If the price you have found for travel insurance is extremely cheap or too good to be true then it usually is. Be careful to read the small print as you may assume you're being covered for certain things but actually aren't or the excess fees could be huge meaning most claims you will be more likely to carry out will be a waste of time.
#4 DON'T JUST CONCENTRATE ON THE PRICE
The policies and what you're being covered for are most important. Finding an insurance company that will be extremely difficult to contact or make a claim will be stressful if anything goes wrong.
#5 FIND TRAVEL INSURANCE ON YOUR OWN
Do the research and find a company that's best for you and your needs. Booking travel insurance through a travel agent or airline can be a lot more expensive with plenty of unsatisfying terms and conditions.
#6 BEFORE YOUR TRIP - TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR BELONGINGS
You want as much proof as possible in case you need to make a claim. Take photos of your backpack and the contents in order to protect yourself and prove to the company you already had the lost or stolen items to begin with.
TYPES OF TRAVEL INSURANCE
BACKPACKER Backpacker Travel Insurance caters for travellers who are visiting multiple destinations and for a longer period of time (usually more than 60 days) It will also include cover for more adventurous activities than ordinary travel insurance would. Some companies even let you claim while you're still away from home.
COUPLE This travel insurance is taken out as a couple instead of an individual. By taking out joint insurance, it will reduce the price dramatically! You're both given the same amount of options to choose from and then are covered with the same policies. My boyfriend and I saved hundreds by going with couples travel insurance while backpacking worldwide.
ANNUAL COVER This a good idea when you're planning on going on multiple trips in a year rather than taking out travel insurance for each single trip every time. Each trip should only last around 30-60 days and some will even cover you for 90 day trips.
HOW TO MAKE A CLAIM
KEEP A NOTE OF INSURANCE CLAIMS NUMBER You should have a note of your insurance claims number in your journal, phone and email while you're travelling. This means whatever happens, you will be able to contact them without hunting high and low for the number. What's the point of having insurance if you can't remember any of their details?
READ POLICIES & KNOW YOUR EXCESS FEES BEFORE PHONING Before you make a claim you should find out if you're actually covered so make sure to read through your paperwork and the policy again. Also, your insurance documents should state what your excess fees are most likely to be. An excess fee is the amount you will have to pay towards your claim.
IF SOMETHING IS LOST OR STOLEN -- GET A POLICE REPORT!
In an incident which involves a crime, you must contact police in the country you're visiting and report it. Without a reference number or if you haven't reported it within 24 hours ---- you may not be able to make the claim or it will be a lot harder to do so.
REMEMBER: Insurers need proof!
IF YOU'VE HAD MEDICAL CARE -- KEEP ALL PAPERWORK & RECEIPTS
You must have with you all of the documents to state what care you have had done, by which doctor, at which hospital and to prove you have paid and how much. Insurance companies need this proof in order to make the claim possible. If possible you can try to call your insurer before receiving treatment (unless an emergency) to confirm if the policies will apply to your situation. But the main thing is you have proof to support your claim!
PERSONAL BELONGINGS & EXPENSIVE ITEMS
You will without a doubt be carrying things with you that you can't really afford to lose. If these items end up missing and need to make a claim, again there needs to be as much proof as possible. Keep as many receipts as you can for items you're taking with you on your trip and take photos of the contents of your backpack that proves they are yours and you had them when you said you did.
I hope this guide helped you with your Travel Insurance research! Remember to never let you insurance run out on the road because this is when accidents will happen.