Travel insurance is a difficult topic.
You’ve no doubt noticed that many travel bloggers mention the need for travel insurance. They have real reasons to recommend this, but the truth is that bloggers can usually get a commission on insurance plans – and so do I. In recent years, this may have led to some skepticism (perhaps among less experienced travelers) about whether insurance is appropriate. Really necessary.
Another issue with insurance is that policies can be complex, which can lead to misunderstandings when people make a claim, which in turn can lead to negative online reviews about travel insurance that aren’t really accurate.
Travel insurance is ultimately a personal financial matter, so only you can decide if it’s worth it. But I thought I’d share my own experiences and maybe some cautionary tales.
I, no always Use travel insurance
Firstly, I think there are some trips where having travel insurance is not the most important thing.
For example, I am an EU citizen, and when I travel to a neighboring EU country, I usually won’t take out insurance specifically for the trip, partly because medical assistance.
If you are a US resident, you may not always need travel insurance when traveling within the USA and your home medical insurance will likely cover you against accidents. You may also feel that the risks are not as strong when traveling domestically, which is not necessarily true but it is arguably easier to get help in your country.
The situation changes quickly if you are traveling abroad. The most important thing to keep in mind is that the medical insurance you have in your home country never applies abroad.
In my opinion, your risks also change especially when traveling to more adventurous destinations, where a host of potential accidents can seriously impact your trip if you’re unlucky.
So, when I travel abroad, especially when I expect to do some adventurous things (anything from hiking to diving) I make sure I’m sure.
I have been using annual travel insurance since 2009 with several different insurance companies.
What I think insurance is best for
Comprehensive travel insurance in and of itself will not help you stay safe or healthy, but it can reduce the financial risks of travel, especially in the event of accidents or other unexpected situations.
What is covered depends entirely on your insurance package. Typically, this insurance covers several scenarios such as theft, loss of passport, missed departure, scheduled airline failure, and cancellation (only For emergency reasons, Not because you were cold!).
I think all of these things are good to have, but in my opinion, the real reason to get travel insurance is:
- Medical expenses
- Personal liability coverage
If your phone is stolen, it can still be a recoverable setback even if you don’t have insurance. But if you need treatment abroad, bills can quickly reach tens of thousands of dollars or euros. In these types of scenarios, travel insurance protects you.
Most insurance companies will cover you up to millions of dollars/euros/pounds in medical expenses.
Personal liability insurance is another good thing to have as part of your travel insurance package. This will be a real lifesaver if you accidentally damage someone’s property or accidentally injure someone. This is very useful if you plan to rent any equipment or vehicles. Personal liability is usually covered for another huge amount (often a million or more).
In my view, insurance is for unexpected events that can have the biggest financial impact. Using a better lock or paying attention to your security will honestly help with this more than insurance.
On some travel forums, I’ve seen people lament not “using” their insurance for something, “losing money on it”, but that’s not how insurance should be looked at. It’s a service that helps you avoid risks on your trip, and if you don’t have to make a claim, that’s perfectly fine.
The helicopter ride is worth $10,000
Knock on wood, I have yet to use travel insurance for something so serious. However, over the years I have particularly benefited from medical coverage.
When extreme diving in Thailand caused some severe barotrauma to the inner ear, I was easily able to get directions from my insurance company to a specialist at a Singapore hospital. (Luckily, my ears healed after a week or so).
I also once filed a claim for a stolen phone in Laos, which required me to get the original receipt and obtain official paperwork from the local police. (Yes, filing claims always involves some paperwork! Otherwise, the insurance company would simply be at too high a risk of fraud.)
What often gives me peace of mind is not just financial compensation, but travel insurance companies usually have a 24/7 helpline or chat channel where you can get help in the event of an accident.
Although I have only made minor claims myself, I have met less fortunate travelers over the years who have had to cover significant expenses.
A few years ago, I was on a trek in Nepal to Annapurna Base Camp in the Himalayas. This is not necessarily a serious expedition: many people do this popular trek, such as the Machu Picchu trek in Peru.
However, I met this Australian guy who slipped and broke his kneecap at 3,500 meters. He’s 100% not able to walk anymore.
And so he had to get a helicopter out of there. This was the only way to reach the appropriate hospital in Kathmandu.
Regular cost? More than $10,000.
With his insurance? Zero money.
After several calls to his insurance company from a café on a lonely mountain road in Nepal, a helicopter immediately arrived to pick him up. Even though he was in a lot of pain due to his injury, this man had the biggest smile on his face. “Best money I’ve ever spent,” he told me about his insurance.
Thus, this man was evacuated completely free of charge to Kathmandu. Maybe it was just the sound of the rotors, but I swear I heard him making his way out of there.
This is just one example of why travel insurance is of great benefit.
Another time, I met a Scottish traveler who fell from the first floor of a hostel on the Gili Islands in Indonesia. The wounds were poorly treated by local paramedics, and after a few days, they began to become infected. He had to be flown back to the UK at great expense, but all for free thanks to his insurance.
Even if you are going to “cheap” countries it can still really bite your wallet if you end up in an accident. Just take Thailand: a little online research will tell you that treatment can cost between $6,000 and $60,000 in the case of a motorcycle accident.
Bad or unexpected things Can happen on a trip. Some of these may be unpreventable or completely beyond your control. But having insurance is the only thing you need Do Have complete control – and it can be a real lifesaver if you have it.
Recommended travel insurance
There are several insurance companies I have used, but the one I deal with is Heymondo. They offer great insurance with flexible coverage, a 24-hour helpline for emergency contact, and many activities such as mountain biking or diving are included.
You can Get a quote from Heymondo here To check if they are suitable for you.
I like that Heymondo is more digitally savvy than other insurance companies I’ve used, offering communication through an app and even WhatsApp.
The link above is an affiliate link, so I’ll earn a little if you decide to make a purchase. Using my link, you can also get 5% off your plan. I only recommend services that I have personally had positive experiences with.
Here are some of the main benefits I see in Heymondo:
Value of money
There are no co-payments, deductibles or excess
There can be more activities that are covered by default
Helpful tip 1: Himundo Premium They only cost 15-20% more than senior and medical insurance but the coverage is more comprehensive, so it’s worth comparing these plans to see which one offers the best value for you.
Useful tip: 2: If you travel a lot, consider Multi-annual Himundo trek eviction. If you take several trips that are no longer than two months in length, it may be much cheaper to get annual insurance than to insure them one at a time. If your trip is longer than 60 days, you can check out Himundo insurance for long stays.
You may also want to consider the Safety suite. I’ve only used it for a short time, but I hear good things about it from those who still use it. Their plans are a little more basic in what they offer, but their price is also a little lower. It’s mostly aimed at people who need ongoing insurance such as digital nomads or long-term travelers.
The two things you should always do
Keep in mind that insurance companies are there to protect you from the worst-case scenarios, not for you to take advantage of their coverage!
Before you buy insurance, make sure to Read the small print. Some terms may come as a surprise if you don’t read them correctly (for example, theft is usually covered by a certain amount, but a per-item limit may also be imposed).
Negative travel insurance reviews are often due to the customer not understanding what is and is not covered. To avoid disappointments, it is wise to read the actual policy and not just the marketing materials.
For example, don’t assume that Trip Cancellation Coverage applies to any type of cancellation. This is usually only reserved for specific situations specified in the policy, such as a family tragedy that forces you to cancel a trip before it even begins.
Travel insurance is a regulated industry and they cannot deny a claim that is within your rights. However, travel insurance is not designed to cover everything. Terms, conditions, and exclusions apply – but negligence simply won’t insure you.
- Leaving your bags completely unattended in public places, or…
- Going to a country where there is war or disaster (known at the time of departure)
It is understood that these things will not be covered.
Always second Keep a paper trail. If your items are stolen, get a police report. If your flight is canceled, keep the relevant details and your receipts from the airline. If you need emergency medical treatment, contact your insurance company and keep any receipts as well. Your insurance company will need this information later for proof.
Just to be sure, you can always call your insurance company to double-check if your policy covers something before you start racking up any bills.
Keep in mind that travel insurance will also not cover pre-existing medical conditions (things you already had before your trip).
All that said, if you understand the purpose of your insurance, it can give you real peace of mind when you’re moving around the world.