Despite being a world traveller for a few years now, and being absolutely privy to the importance of buying travel insurance, I still find myself struggling with the same question every time I travel abroad: “Should I or should I not buy travel insurance?”
I mean we all know that travel insurance (and I am talking about a full coverage policy and not some cheap ‘cover-me-only-if-I-have-a-heart-attack’ policy) can be a useful thing. It keeps us safe from any personal damage, whether it’s a road accident or losing our passport somewhere on the journey. Yet, when we are buying it, our mind tells us how the chances of using the insurance premium is highly unlikely. But what if we had to use it? What if we lost our baggage at the airport, or worse, we got robbed overseas?
Wait… What? Did I say our travel insurance can cover us if we get robbed?
Yes, I did!
What Is A Travel Insurance?
Before anything, let’s start with the basics and understand what travel insurance actually is. I’ve noticed the term Travel Insurance being commonly mistaken, with most people believing that it acts as a medical insurance when travelling abroad, when in reality, it can be much more than that.
When buying a travel insurance you should know what kind of coverage your insurance policy entitles you to. A travel insurance is not just a medical insurance. There are different types of coverage available based on your needs.
- Travel Health Insurance: Most commonly and widely used, a travel health insurance covers you if you have an accident. It’s your free ticket to a hospital when you’re away from home.
- Trip Cancellation Insurance: Covers you for any interruptions in your travel plans, including flight delays/cancellations etc.
- Baggage Insurance: Gives you full or partial coverage for theft or damages to your travel gear.
…and there can be more types of travel insurance, but you get the idea!
Your insurance can also offer more than one type of coverage. Most vacation plans include basic coverage for trip cancellation, flight delays, medical emergency, lost baggage, delayed baggage, passport loss, and so on and so forth. So read your policy carefully and buy what suits you best.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
And now comes the inevitable: do you need a travel insurance at all? Well, it’s a totally personal choice (unless you require one to apply for a visa).
I have met plenty of people who travel without any travel insurance, and I’ve done it too in the past. But since my Bratislava Slovakia experience, where a few people robbed me in full daylight and took my expensive DSLR away, I’ve realised how a little investment can save me in similar situations. And since then, I’ve started buying travel insurance whenever I travel. Moreover, it gives me peace of mind and a little freedom to take risks while on the road.
And well, it’s not just me. Throughout my travels I’ve heard horror stories of travellers falling unexpectedly sick or getting injured in continents like Europe and other places that are considered to be the safest and most travel-friendly. So yea, the choice of buying a travel insurance remains totally personal but if you want some assurance, some peace of mind, and if you’re travelling with a lot of expensive gear, getting yourself insured is a wise move.
A travel insurance can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars (against paying a very small amount) which you can otherwise lose pretty quickly, if not insured.
Remember, shit can happen! And it happens when you least expect it.
What Kind Of Insurance Should You Buy?
Again, a personal choice. I recommend you calculate the different factors that can affect you to help you decide.
Do you carry a lot of expensive photo/computer gear? (If yes, look for an insurance policy that gives you cover for your gear). Does your insurance include medical evacuation? (You may need it if you have any pre-existing condition). Are you the type of person who books hotels/flights/activities in advance? Or do you just wing it and pay for services as you use them? (If booking hotels and flights in advance, get an insurance that covers you in the event of trip cancellation). Make sure to choose your insurance based on your personal requirements.
And speaking of a personal choice, I’ve used SafetyWing on my previous few international trips and quite like it. Since the company was started by digital nomads themselves, the kind of coverage and service that SafetyWing offers, suits digital nomads like me fairly perfectly. It gives me coverage for medical problems and accidents, travel delays, lost checked luggage, natural disasters, and even personal liability. To get in touch with like-minded nomads, they even organize different events and meetups worldwide.
Sounds fantastic, right? Well, it gets even better: SafetyWing offers the cheapest insurance option for digital nomads and long-term travellers on the market. Starting at 37 USD per 4 weeks, it is only 1/3rd of what many other similar companies charge.
So yea, SafetyWing remains my choice (or at least has remained since the previous few trips). But if you’re looking for other options, World Nomads is another popular name among travellers, particularly long-term ones. Like SafetyWing, it lets you take up the policy when you are already out of your home country, which many other insurance companies do not allow. It also offers extensive coverage for extreme sports and adventure activities. But honestly speaking, I have never used them so I can’t say how good they are.
Speaking of the traditional names, however, Bajaj Allians and Reliance Insurance are a couple of good and reliable ones too, particularly for Indian citizens.
Check SafetyWing’s website by clicking here, for more.
A Few Quick Travel Insurance Tips
- Read the fine print carefully. Find out what you’re covered for. Know every detail even if it says you’re covered. When it comes to insurance, there are always many confusions.
- Take photos of all your gear, in case you need to claim for them tomorrow.
- Contact your insurance immediately in the event of an illness or accident for which you need treatment, so they can advise on the proper claim process. Your provider may also have a network of recommended partner hospitals and clinics that they can refer you to at your destination.
- Save PDF copies of all gear purchase & hospital receipts. Keep originals too.
- Write down serial numbers, policy numbers, and insurance contact information.
- File a police report immediately after any theft or accident.