Do You Need Travel Insurance? And If So, Which Insurance Is Right For you and the best value?
In this article, we look through the different types of insurance so you can decide which is the right fit and right price for you.
We suggest some of the best insurance companies for different types of trips and some good insurance comparison sites that can help vacationers quickly find the right price and inclusions for their trip. If you need something a little more specific than basic vacation insurance, we look at other types of specialist insurance for Backpackers, remote travel, digital nomads, extreme sports, and more.
Find our quick comparison chart below to quickly compare some options.
Table Of Contents – Insurance
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Insurance Options Comparison Chart
We’ve been surprised over the many years of using many travel insurance companies just how different each is. It’s a minefield out there! You need to know the sort of trip you are taking in order to find a company that matches your travel style, duration, intended destinations, home country of residence, and many more things.
We’ll go through the most important factors to take into consideration later in the article, but first, a quick comparison chart – useful if you already have a good idea of what you need, or to refer back to after you read the rest of the article.
Do you need travel insurance?
“Nothing’s going to happen to me, I’m young, fit & healthy. Plus it’s expensive, and I only saved enough money for my trip…”
Have you had these thoughts before going on a trip? Wondering, do you need travel insurance?
You may be going travelling for the first time and just have no idea what travel insurance is, or why you even need travel insurance.
You may have been on a trip before and nothing happened. You didn’t lose your passport, you didn’t get robbed, hell you didn’t even get bed bugs. Your entire trip was incident-free.
We’ve been travelling full time since April 2013, and before that also took a lot of trips (93 countries visited and counting at time of writing) and if there is one thing that we’ve learned: It’s a crazy unpredictable world out there, you never know what might happen.
No one is impenetrable. Unless you are Superman. And if that’s the case, dude, why are you even reading this article?
Our friends at Nomadasaurus were in a bus crash in Myanmar. Also, Dave from Canada’s biggest adventure travel blog The Planet D broke his back while on a trip in Peru.
Even I have had my run-in with misfortune. I was involved in a whitewater rafting accident back in 2011 that required me to be rushed off to hospital for a back X-ray (all fine by the way – it was just a really, really big ouchie).
Medical difficulties aside, there are other reason you may need travel insurance.
During the last 2 years of travel we’ve had someone try to snatch my bag in Cambodia. Some kids tried to pickpocket us in FYR Macedonia. We’ve left electric razors in hostel rooms, left things behind on planes, buses & in taxis, and we’ve had electronics randomly explode due to power surges.
So, what I’m saying, is that if these horrible things can happen to ‘professional’ full time travellers – then they can certainly happen to anyone, anywhere in the world. I worked as a travel agent for 3 years back in Australia. Seriously the things I saw and heard about while working there – I personally would never go anywhere without some sort of travel insurance.
What Type Of Insurance Is Right For You – What Type Of Traveler Are You
Your travel style and trip length will dictate the type of insurance that is right for you.
Single Trip vs Multi Trip (Annual) Insurance – Standard Vacation Insurance
Single trip insurance is ideal for vacationers who are taking just one or two trips in any given year, especially if the trip is of a high value and many of the elements of the trip are being pre-booked before you leave. Single Trip Insurance allows you to request the exact dates you need to be insured, who will be on the trip and you can sometimes set a total trip value if you know how much the trip will cost. This gets you set medical cover and the option to be reimbursed for an agreed amount, though the exact conditions of any single trip insurance will vary depending on your insurance company. Always read the policy details before signing up.
Multi trip (annual) insurance is designed to be a policy that you pay for the whole year in advance which gives you a set level of cover. You can then travel on short trips (typically 30 days per trip, but this varies depending on the insurer). If you make lots of short trips as a frequent traveler, annual insurance can be more cost effective but may not give you the same level of cover as single trip as it can be more generalized.
Either of these types are ideal for a regular vacation – you’ll need to compare which provide you with the right level of cover and the price you want.
Backpacker / Adventure Insurance
For longer trips (more than 30 days) of for when you’ll be venturing away from the beaten path, backpacker insurance might be more appropriate and economical. Backpacker policies typically insure you to travel from between 1 month and 2 years without needing to return home.
If you want to travel for more than 2 years, or you don’t know how long your trip will be and you want to be able to extend your cover while abroad, rather than having to return home, then World Nomads is one of the few insurers that allow you to extend while traveling. We review them below.
Backpacker insurance may also include more coverage for wilderness and extreme sports than regular insurance. You must always check the policy. For remote travel, things like Mountain rescue and air ambulance are worth considering.
Digital Nomad / Long Term Insurance
If you plan to travel indefinitely, but don’t need all the extras like extreme sports cover, then there is now a specialist Digital Nomad Insurer called SafetyWing who offers a recurring monthly plan which you can turn on and off as you need. So you can travel wherever and whenever you want and have complete flexibility in your policy – allowing you to change your plans as you go.
Read more about SafetyWing Insurance below.
If you have prior medical conditions, or you want to travel to unsafe travel destinations, or you want some pretty specific insurance for dangerous activities, then you will need to contact a specialist insurer. That said, things like winter sports and even scuba diving are sometimes covered by regular insurers today – always check the policy details.
Use A Comparison Site For Vacation Insurance
If you are looking for basic Vacation insurance – for beach holidays, city breaks, family travel etc. Then don’t over complicate things. Use an Insurance comparison site to check out all your options in one place.
These sites feature all of the standard insurers.
USA & CANADA:
What should I look for in my travel insurance? (Needed Inclusions)
There are a few important things to consider when purchasing travel insurance:
1. How much of your medical/dental costs will they cover?
If you’re going to the United States, for example, medical costs are stupidly high. Make sure that if you happen to get hit by a bus while crossing the street, you don’t end up with a $500,000 bill at the end, that your insurance doesn’t cover.
Why wouldn’t they cover an accident like that? Because you didn’t get a policy with enough coverage for the United States. (That bus incident and the price of medical is a true story btw. It happened to this customer while I was a travel agent, who didn’t have any travel insurance – ouchie)
2. Do they offer medical evacuation if required?
As with Dave’s story from The Planet D, if you injure yourself while travelling, you don’t want to be stuck in some hospital in the middle of the Peruvian jungle. You want to be airlifted to a hospital with top of the line medical facilities that can handle your injury. Does the policy offer this?
3. Do they offer 24 hour emergency assistance?
This is a no brainer.
Can you contact them at any time of day or night no matter where you are? If you are having to wait until their opening hours to report an incident, it’s not really convenient for you, the paying customer. Also not the best if you’re have been robbed and you’re broke and hungry!
These 3 are really the big ones to look out for. The remainder of the cover you require for your trip depends on what you are taking with you, what you are doing, and where you are going.
What else should you be covered for?
Let’s say you’re are on a month long trip around Europe, and the volcano in Iceland kicks off causing disruptions. Will you be covered for any flights you miss because you’re grounded thanks to a stupid ash cloud?
Do you need travel insurance for Loss of Luggage?
It can be something as simple as arriving at LAX and realising (after a long wait at the luggage collection), that zero of the bags you checked in have made it to LAX with you – another true story of mine #FML.
Does your insurer cover the cost of you buying some fresh undies, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other necessities you need until your luggage shows up?
P.S. they don’t all cover this I’ve learned the hard way.
P.P.S. Always carry a spare pair of underwear and your toothbrush and toothpaste with you on the airplane – even some wet wipes are a good idea. Trust me!!!
You leave your passport in the back of a taxi
This happens more often than you may realise. People get to their destination and are tired, jet-lagged and a bit out of it – leaving your passport in a taxi is very easy to do. Sadly, not all taxi drivers are good law-abiding citizens who will return it to you out of the kindness of their hearts. Will the cost of purchasing an emergency passport be covered?
This is to name but a few things you need to be covered for…..it really depends on the trip you’re doing.
So with all that said – with all the ups and downs of trying out different travel insurance policies, is there any travel insurance company that actually offers real nomad insurance? A company that offers you flexibility in your policy to add in the additional coverage you may require depending on your trip. And just all round has your ass covered.
I have to say that there is only one winner – World Nomads.
My Little World Nomads Travel Insurance Review – Best Travel Backpacker Insurance
World Nomads is a company that was set up by travellers for travellers.
What makes them a great nomad insurance option, is because they realise that we want to explore off the beaten track, discover thrills and adventure, get up to mischief and have the best possible trip ever.
Here’s a few benefits of a World Nomads Travel Insurance Policy
- You realise in all of the excitement of planning your adventure that you forgot to actually buy your travel insurance. You’re now getting ready to climb Machu Picchu and you have no insurance. No problem – you can apply for World Nomads insurance online from anywhere in the world. **This depends on what country you come from. World Nomads cover people from over 140 different countries.
- Happen to be having a great time overseas, and you’re not ready to go home yet? You can extend your policy online, with ease.
- We are in the age of the gadgets, and you will most likely be travelling with your laptop, iPhone, tablet, DSLR camera and other electronics. Their policies all provide cover for these items. I actually saw a competitors policy the other day where baggage wasn’t included – you had to pay extra.
- Want to get a little crazy and try some new adventure sports? They cover you for that as well. You’ll be covered for everything from snowboarding in Banff to bungee jumping in Queenstown. Even air guitar is covered – #TRUTH. Worldnomads cover over 200 different adventure sports.
- They have an easy to fill in online claim form – I can’t begin to tell you how much easier this makes life. You don’t have to return to your home country before you can make a claim – which is actually something you have to do with a lot of other insurance providers.
I learnt this the hard way after getting bitten by a cow in Burma (long story). But after going through a series of rabies shots, I discovered my insurance (with another company back then) would only pay out once I returned home. I then had to pay more money to see an Australian GP and get them to approve my medical costs. But World Nomads let you claim while still on the road. So it’s a better choice than most backpacker insurers.
Get A Quote Now:
Digital Nomad Travel Insurance
As I said earlier. If you decide you are enjoying your newfound Travel Freedom and you want to keep travelling, or perhaps you fall in love with a little town in Cambodia and you want to stay longer. It is possible to do this with World Nomads Insurance – who allows you to extend your trip as many times as you want, from anywhere. But recently a new, more convenient competitor came on the market.
- It’s $37 USD per 4 weeks (More for USA travel) – for 18-39 years age, (at time of writing). That’s $481 per year. For most quotes, this is significantly cheaper than World Nomads, though SafetyWing has fewer inclusions for things like laptops and adventure sports. So, it’s fine if you are hopping from city to city, staying a month or 2 in each place. Not as good for backpackers with active adventure activities.
- It’s a recurring Pay-as-you-go policy. Much easier than paying a huge lump sum. And you can pause or restart anytime – so you don’t have to re-apply for each trip you make. PLUS, if you are away 6 months, then home for a month, then away again, you don’t have to start a new policy each time!
Safetywing is underwritten by Lloyds – a big name in insurance. The policies have different inclusions from world nomads, so it’s important to check what is right for you. They also told me they’ll be adding new products like laptop and camera insurance soon, as as add-on to the recurring monthly subscription.
Register Free For SafetyWing Now (Click Here) – Then Start / Stop Your Policy As You Need
Specialist Insurance (Dangerous Destinations, Prior Medical Conditions)
Additional Info Coming Soon!
Have you ever needed to claim on travel insurance while abroad? What was your experience – let us know in the comments.
If you enjoyed reading this article, please remember to share the love with your peeps on social media – that would totally make my day!
Disclaimer: We are affiliated with World nomads and get a commission if you buy a policy. We could recommend any insurance company but World Nomads is the best one we’ve found and we believe it’s important to have travel insurance. Opinions are our own and all stories in this article are 100% true.