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Nov 30 2012

Travel Insurance: Are You Covered?

No matter how well you prepare, things don’t always go to plan and unexpected things happen when you travel independently.  That is all part of the experience and you deal with these things as and when they arise.  One thing that can help is having travel insurance.  I’m not talking about any travel insurance policy but one that is right for you and the trip you are planning.  Here are some things I have learned over the years to help you make the right decision so you are fully insured for your next trip, wherever and whatever that might be.

  1. Think about your trip.  I mean, really, think about your trip.

    1. Think about all the things you want to do and the things you might do.  Make a list of everything, even if you aren’t sure if you will do it or not.  Talk to other people who have travelled, search on the internet for the countries you are travelling to and the sort of activities on offer and ask on forums to help you list everything.  There are an increasing number of activities being offered so it’s important to make sure you are fully covered.  If you are intending to do some unpaid work while you are away through Helpx, Wwoofing or any other organisation, you will need insurance to cover whatever work you might do.  For example, on a recent trip through Helpx, I knew I would be doing manual work outside so I made sure that I was covered for that, as not all insurance policies do.

    2. Do you have a return ticket or a one-way ticket?  Do you know your return date or are you travelling indefinitely?  You really need to be clear about this because that will determine the insurers.  Not every company that provides travel insurance will cover individuals who travel with a one-way ticket as I found out recently when I was looking for cover.

  2. Shop around.  Once you know what you need cover for, shop around online to find the best deal for you that provides you with the most appropriate insurance cover.  There are so many companies out there offering insurance and the cover they offer changes so it’s worth shopping around a bit.

  3. The best deal is not necessarily the cheapest.  I’m not saying you should buy the most expensive insurance but it’s important to make sure that the insurance policy matches your trip and the cheapest travel insurance on the market might not do that.  If not, you will have paid for something that won’t cover you when you need it and you might need it at some point.

  4. Give yourself plenty of time.  Don’t leave it until the last minute to get travel insurance.  If you do, you might not get the best policy.  It really is worth spending a bit of time comparing different policies before choosing one.

  5. When you have purchased the most suitable travel insurance policy for your trip, make sure you carry the details with you and send an electronic or a hard copy of the details to a family member or friend.  This might sound very obvious but I was with someone who was seriously injured while on a 4-day trek in Southern Chile.  He had travel insurance but didn’t have the details with him.  In fact, none of us did.  We were travelling light for those few days and left our insurance details in our main backpacks, which were in a town near the national park where we were trekking.  It took time for the authorities to get his insurance details and check that he had appropriate cover as he had to be airlifted to the nearest hospital.  Because of that experience, I always make sure I have my travel insurance policy number and the emergency telephone number with me at all times – you live and learn!


I met lots of travellers who, at some point during their trip, have required medical treatment.  That’s when you realise the importance of travel insurance.  I’m not trying to scaremonger.  I’m just talking from my own experience.  On the True Traveller’s website is the following statement: ‘if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.’  At the end of the day, whether or not to take out a travel insurance policy is up to you.  No one can force you to do so but, from my own travel experience, I would urge you to take out travel insurance that covers you sufficiently for your trip.  If not, you are taking a big and unnecessary risk.

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