Do I Need Travel Insurance?

It’s a question we get asked on a daily basis – Should I buy travel insurance? From full-time nomads to weekend escapers, it is something that tends to divide opinions between travellers. Some people might think that nothing will ever go wrong (the old “it won’t happen to me” attitude), or that they aren’t doing any extreme activities. Perhaps it’s only a short holiday, or they don’t have anything worth stealing. Based on personal experience and the hundreds of stories we hear every day, we have to disagree. If you’re asking yourself, “do I need travel insurance?”, the answer is YES!

Whether you are going overseas for a week or a year, having travel insurance is one of the smartest purchases you can make. Yes, it can cut into a significant portion of your budget, especially if you are travelling long-term, but the benefits are worth it. And trust us – It’ll be cheaper than emergency surgery or medical evacuation, should you ever need it.

From Asia to the Americas, Africa to Europe, and everywhere in between, It really doesn’t matter where you are travelling. It is important to have travel insurance!

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

You might think that travel insurance only covers medical care, or theft of your items. That’s not true. Travel insurance will also cover you for a whole range of things that you might not even have thought about.

Trip Protection (Cancellation And Resumption Of Journey)

This basically means that if you have to cancel your holiday for any number of reasons (such as for a family emergency) your travel insurance will cover the costs of cancellation and starting your trip again. This can be before your travels begin or during your travels. Break your leg a week before your skiing holiday? Don’t stress about all the cancellation fees. Have your journey delayed due to a strike or natural disaster? No problem. In the middle of a vacation and find out your brother is in a car accident? If you’ve just spent all your savings on your holiday, can you afford to buy an emergency flight home? If someone asks us “do I need travel insurance”, we ask them that.

With the right travel insurance you will have the costs of your flights home, and back to your where you ended your trip, covered. Don’t believe us? Keep scrolling to read our personal experience below.

Additional Travel Expenses

These can be for things like if you become sick during your trip and can’t leave your hotel or get to the airport. Extra costs for accommodation, delayed travel expenses, a cash allowance if you are hospitalised, etc. You would be amazed how handy this little paragraph in your insurance policy will be should something go wrong.

Medical Evacuation

Sometimes you are injured in a country or city where there isn’t the best hospital care available. If you have a serious injury or need surgery, your travel insurance company will fly you to your home country for the proper hospital treatment you need. Do you need travel insurance when you are sitting in an aged rural hospital in Peru with no idea what is going on? The peace of mind is worth it. Asking yourself, “should I buy travel insurance?” Take these two examples from two of our good friends, who have used this exact protection in the past: One for a broken leg in France, and the other for needing knee surgery in Vietnam. Both were flown back to Australia for their surgery, and then flown back when they were healed.

Damaged Items

Not stolen – damaged items! If you’ve dropped your brand new iPhone and completely broken it, the right travel insurance company will cover you for the cost of either having it fixed, or send you the money to buy a new one. Again, another thing we have used on the road.

Personal Liability

Just like your car insurance back home covers you for the same thing, travel insurance will cover you for personal liability. And you don’t just have to be driving a car to need this protection! In 2015 a Canadian lady bumped into an elderly local lady, who fell and hit her head, unfortunately passing away. Although the police acquitted her of any fault, the victim’s family sued in a Chinese court, and the tourist was ordered to pay over $90’000 in damages (source). It’s not common when travelling, but accidents do happen.

Lost Baggage

It sucks, but it happens – airlines lose bags everyday. If this happens in your case, a good travel insurance company will give you a set amount of money to buy emergency supplies such as new clothes, toiletries, shoes, and even a new bag.

Rental Car Excess Insurance

If you’re the kind of person who rents a car when they travel, this is an absolute winner. Car rental insurance can often cost more than the rental price itself, and if you don’t buy the insurance, your excess may be up to $5000! Many travel insurance companies will cover the excess in case you are in an accident or a rock flicks up and breaks your windscreen.

Medical Emergency

The most obvious thing that travel insurance will cover is medical emergencies. If you are injured while overseas, your travel insurance will pay for your medical bills. You will be surprised with just how quickly these kinds of things can add up. Our Australian friend broke his leg rock climbing in Canada, and required surgery. While he was in hospital he developed a blood infection. After a few weeks of being confined to a bed, he was informed that his hospital bill had reached $150’000. He did not have travel insurance. This happened in 2012, and he is still paying off his bill. If someone asks us, “Do I need travel insurance?”, he is usually the first example we give.

And if you are travelling somewhere like Southeast Asia and think that hospital care is cheap, guess again. Even in a country like Indonesia medical care can cost up to $800 a day.

Our Personal Experiences

We won’t just talk about why you should buy travel insurance without giving some of our personal experiences to back it up. We have been on the road for over seven years and have always paid for travel insurance. Some years we don’t use it – but we don’t see this as a waste of money. We see it as good luck! And in the years we have used it, it has paid for itself. For the hundreds of emails we get asking “do I need travel insurance”, these are some of the examples we give when having travel insurance has come in handy.

Having lived in Canada for three full winters, we have clocked up over 300 days snowboarding there. Naturally we both have sustained injuries that required hospital care. Alesha broke her wrist in her first year and required a cast, x-rays and doctor’s visits. Jarryd has been hospitalised four times and had numerous doctor’s visits. All times we were covered with travel insurance, and all times we either had our hospital bills reimbursed or did not have to pay anything.

Total cost saved: $5000+

We received a phone call from home saying that Jarryd’s grandmother had suffered a heart attack and renal failure, and was in a serious condition. As we hadn’t been home in two years we immediately booked flights from Thailand to Australia to see her. It was Chinese New Year and last minute, so flights were very expensive.

After talking to our travel insurance company they informed us that as this was a family emergency, the interruption and resumption of our journey would be covered under our policy. This meant that we had the full cost of our flights from Thailand to Australia, and then back, reimbursed.

Total cost saved: $3000

Just the other day (May 2016) Alesha started getting intense abdominal pains and violent vomiting. We rushed her off to the hospital in Koh Lanta and had her admitted. After talking to our travel insurance they sent an email to the hospital guaranteeing that they would cover 100% of the costs for treatment. Alesha received a bunch of tests and x-rays, and was placed in a private room. She was cleared to leave that evening after 8 hours of observation and medical care.

Total cost saved: $800

A few years ago I pulled my e-reader out of my backpack and found the screen completely cracked and unreadable. I was bummed (I love to read), but didn’t really have the money to run out and buy a new one. After a quick call to my travel insurance company they confirmed that damaged items was covered under my policy. I submitted a claims form along with photos of my receipt and of my broken screen, and two weeks later I had almost the entire value of the e-reader (minus a few dollars for depreciation) reimbursed and dropped into my account.

Total cost saved: $130

Which Travel Insurance Should I Buy?

Every day we receive emails from travellers asking us, “which travel insurance company should I buy?”

The answer is always the same – the one that is right for you! But how do you find that one amongst the thousands? Not all travel insurance companies are created equal.

Cheapest isn’t always the best. You might be able to find some travel insurance policies that only cost a dollar a day. This sounds great, until you need to make a claim and find out that they have a string of cleverly-worded clauses to get out of paying for just about everything. Welcome to the insurance world.

First thing to do is check to see if your credit card has travel insurance as a bonus. Some banks offer this service. But again, read the fine print. You might find that these are set up more for business travellers, and the second you want to do something fun like go for a hike or not stay in an “adequately safe” hotel, you will not be covered.

Based on our personal experience, and that of our friends and family, we recommend TWO travel insurance companies. That’s right, two. We may be the only travel bloggers doing this. We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance and 1Cover.

Best Travel Insurance Company For Australians And New Zealanders

Having travelled the world using five different travel insurance companies, we have determined that the best travel insurance company for Australians is 1Cover. They have been absolutely amazing every single time we have used them. What originally made us change policies from World Nomads to 1Cover wasn’t that we were unhappy with World Nomads – far from it. It was that we have so much photography equipment, and 1Cover offered a higher coverage rate for electronics. That is the only reason.

Best Travel Insurance Company For Everyone Else

World Nomads has a long history of helping travellers around the world, and we have used them numerous times over the last 7+ years without issue. They continue to be the leader in travel insurance providers among the majority of people we meet on the road. Their reputation is just that damn good.

Why Do We Recommend 1Cover?
  • 1Cover is focused on travel insurance for Australians and New Zealanders, and offer very comprehensive services.
  • When you get in touch with their call centre, it is in Sydney and you speak to actual Australians and New Zealanders. They do not outsource their call centre.
  • They are underwritten by Lloyds.
  • 1Cover has specific policies for people who are interested in skiing and snowboarding, and adventure activities.
  • You can purchase a policy or extend one if you are already overseas. No need to return to Australia or New Zealand to buy more travel insurance.
  • They cover some pre-existing conditions.
  • Very affordable.
Why Do We Recommend World Nomads?
  • They are aimed at adventurous travellers, but also cover any kind of holiday you have in mind. If you are the kind of person who likes scuba diving, snowboarding, hiking, white-water rafting, kayaking, bungy jumping, renting scooters, etc, then World Nomads are the company for you. Even if you aren’t into the adventure side of travel, they cover all the standard items, plus a bit more.
  • You can purchase a policy or extend one if you are already overseas. No need to return to your home country to buy more travel insurance.
  • They cover people from over 150 countries.
  • Affordable. Not the cheapest, but very good value.

Disclaimer: We are not sponsored by 1Cover or World Nomads, however the above links are affiliate links. If you choose to buy travel insurance using the above buttons we receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please do your own research before making a purchase, but if you use our affiliate code we would love you forever and ever!

Tips Before You Buy Travel Insurance

Here are our tips and a few things you should know before you buy travel insurance.

  • Read the fine print
    Make sure you know what you are and are not covered for before you start your travels.
  • Shop around
    Don’t just buy the first travel insurance you come across. Do your homework and your research. That being said we’ve done our research and still recommend World Nomads.
  • Don’t go for the cheapest option
    The old saying “you get what you pay for” is true in the insurance world. That being said, there’s no need to go for the most expensive option either. Find something in the middle that fits your budget.
  • You may have to pay first, claim later
    Sometimes your travel insurance company requires you to pay your hospital bills up front, and then fill out a claims form to reimburse the cost. This may be mandatory, but often if you contact your travel insurance company first they can either send you to a hospital that they are partnered with, or write a letter of guarantee you can give to the hospital saying that they will cover the costs. Look into this.