Why You Should Buy Travel Insurance
I ALWAYS purchase travel insurance when I travel, even if it's just for a quick 4-day holiday. Well, I didn't purchase insurance for a 5-day escape to Bermuda last year and soon regretted it. The flight was delayed 4 hours then cancelled because there was no pilot. After the flight was re-booked for the following morning, it was cancelled again and delayed until the afternoon. Had I purchased travel insurance, I would have been PAID for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, I tried to be cheap so my 5-day escape turned into a 3-day escape. I was going to stay with a friend but others on my flight had paid hundreds of dollars for beach-front hotels and hundreds more to attend the international boat races that were going on that weekend. They lost all that money because they also failed to purchase travel insurance.
What is Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is emergency coverage when things unexpectedly go wrong. Coverage may include costs incurred before your trip, such as nonrefundable event tickets or hotel stays, and during your trip, including travel interruptions, lost luggage, and medical expenses.
Depending on your policy, it may cover: luggage is lost by the airline, a popped ear drum during scuba diving, a broken wrist from hiking, a hospital stay from eating contaminated street food, or a flight cancellation/change due to a death in the family. Travel insurance is designed to cover accidents and unexpected events you never thought could happen.
Why Should I Get Travel Insurance?
Travel insurance is the most important thing you need for a trip that you hope you'll never have to actually use. Most of us purchase home insurance, life insurance, health insurance, car insurance, and even cell phone insurance! Getting travel insurance is the same thing. You want protection against unforeseen travel costs.
Is Travel Insurance the Same as Health Insurance?
No, it's much more than that. I used to think I didn't need travel insurance because I had good health insurance. Well, I no longer have good health insurance (hello, freelancer life!) but even the best health insurance will NOT cover most accidents abroad and it definitely won't cover most other unexpected travel costs. Travel insurance is also NOT a substitute for health insurance back home.
Though travel insurance covers illnesses and injury medical claims, it covers so much more (see above), including: trip cancellation, trip interruptions, loss or theft of gear, and emergency transportation, including hyper-expensive airlifts for all you hikers mountaineers!
Some travel insurance will cover you at home but it's not a replacement for standard health insurance. World Nomads travel insurance covers US residents 100 miles from their permanent address, covers Canadians outside their home province, and covers everyone else outside of their home country. Check your policy carefully for details.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
In general, travel insurance covers theft, lost/stolen baggage, emergency flight changes/cancellations, collision damage, and transportation to the nearest hospital, illness, injury, and accidental death/dismemberment. Each provider differs, as does each individual policy offered by the providers (just like health or car insurance), so read the fine print of your policy to understand what is and is not covered.
How Do I Choose a Travel Insurance Plan?
There's a lot of travel insurance companies to chose from and most offer various plans. Also make sure the travel insurance provider offers 24-hour emergency services and support. You do NOT want to get sick in the middle of the night and be told to call the next day. To find the right plan for you, you'll want to make sure that it covers:
The country you're traveling to (seems obvious but not all providers cover all countries)
Electronics (make sure there is a high coverage limit if you will bring expensive electronics)
Lost, damaged, or stolen possessions, such as phones, cameras, luggage, jewelry, etc.
Injury and sudden illness
Cancellations such as flights and hotel bookings should you have a sudden illness or death in the family or some other emergency that requires you to head home early
Emergency or strife that may cause you to leave a country early
How Travel Insurance Has Helped Me
After getting massively ill in Mexico on my way to Cuba for President Obama's inaugural visit in 2016, I found myself unable to leave bed for a week, experiencing symptoms and bodily excretions that I'm too embarrassed to detail here. As internet access in Cuba was extremely hard to come by in 2016 (and still is) and international phone calls were extraordinarily expensive, I connected my insurance provider, World Nomad's, with my mother to discuss the options. I ultimately did not require reimbursements because Cuba's fantastic medical system checked me out for free, but I was very impressed with World Nomad's customer service so I decided to continue using them.
World Nomad's covered me when I broke my wrist hiking in Mexico (I go to Mexico A LOT), and covered luggage that a US airline lost on a domestic flight back to New York City that the airline would not cover. I've recommended them to many friends and clients and have received positive testimonials.
World Nomads Travel Insurance
I've tried various travel insurance providers over the years and World Nomads is my favorite so I recommend them the most to my clients.