As part of preparing for your next vacation, you may be considering getting travel insurance. Travel insurance is just like your regular health insurance but it insures you for a specific period of time, traveling to a specific place. Generally, you only need travel insurance for trips outside your home country. But is it right for you and your trip?
Travel Insurance: WHY Spend Extra Money?!
Yes, travel insurance is an extra cost. No, it’s not required. However, nobody ever plans for emergencies and that’s exactly why travel insurance exists. North Americans often forget that not all countries have good healthcare and emergency services. This means that just because you have an asthma attack at home that can be treated easily at an Urgent Care, doesn’t mean that will happen in a different country. Enter travel insurance.
Note: your regular health insurance does not cover you abroad!
Travel-Ruining Accidents & Illnesses
It’s unlikely that you’ll ever end up in a foreign hospital or need major medical care on a trip. Having said that, it is possible and most of these illnesses are actually common, everyday issues that could happen anywhere.
Typical accidents and illnesses that people get while traveling include:
- Infections from bug bites, cuts, scrapes, etc.
- Injuries from falls
- Food poisoning/intolerance to foreign food (diarrhea, vomiting, you get the idea)
- Allergic/asthma attacks or reactions
- Bladder or yeast infections
Isn’t Medical Treatment CHEAPER Abroad?
Everyone has heard this from their coworker’s brother’s wife – isn’t it WAY cheaper to get medical services abroad? What about that neighbor who went to Tijuana, Mexico to get $100 braces?
Medical services abroad can absolutely be cheaper than at home. However, they are typically never cheaper than the cost of insurance. There are many factors to this such as public vs. private hospital, how you got to the hospital (ambulance, helicopter, taxi), clinic vs. urgent care vs. hospital, time of day you got the services, whether it’s a specialty service or not, etc. etc.
The point being, you never know what you’ll need the insurance for and these costs can add up quickly. That’s why we recommend that you get travel insurance!
A Note on Cheap Travel Insurance
There are tons of travel insurance options out there and some are crazy-cheap. However, these are usually the same ones who will reject your insurance claim should you actually try to use it.
You Might Need Travel Insurance If…
- You’re doing extreme activities – rafting, ziplining, backpacking, rappelling, skydiving, fire-dancing, etc.
- You’re visiting a remote location where there aren’t many hospitals or clinics
- You’re bringing expensive camera equipment or the latest iPhone
- You’re renting a car or motorbike
- You plan to drink or do drugs on your trip
- This is your first visit to this country or state
- You don’t speak the local language – it’s much harder to communicate “My kidney hurts!” in a different language.
- You plan to get a tattoo abroad
- You’re going somewhere where safety is not a priority (See: 23 things to know about Thailand)
Which Travel Insurance Should I Pick?
There are some things you should consider when picking your insurance.
- Is this a company with real happy customers? Can you find reviews?
- Do you have to purchase coverage before your trip?
- Can your coverage be updated or extended during the trip?
- Does it exclude pre-existing conditions/procedures (for example: heart monitors)?
- How hard is it to submit a claim? How long will it take to process?
- Will it cover my flight/hotel/trip if I cancel? What about if the airline cancels on me?
- Is theft or luggage loss covered?
- Do I need to visit a certain doctor?
- Do I need approval before seeking medical services?
- Does coverage include just emergencies, or are medicines and trips to the doctor covered?
- What activities does it cover?
Our Favorite Travel Insurance
The travel insurance that we use and recommend is from World Nomads. This is one of the most popular companies and is recommended by Lonely Planet. This is the easiest and most comprehensive coverage out there.
We LOVE World Nomads because–
- They have a lot of happy customers
- Reasonably priced
- It includes health coverage
- It includes loss/theft of electronics
- It covers travel to 140 countries
- It includes most activities
- It’s easy to extend your policy
You can get a quote below for your trip using this calculator:
So there you have it! There are many reasons why you should get travel insurance. The main reason being – you just never know! The most graceful person can slip and fall on ice and the healthiest person can contract food poisoning from eating McDonald’s.