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!
It is important to understand that this summary is not a recommendation to purchase, and all coverage, including benefit limits, mentioned varies depending on a person’s country of residence and is subject to terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions.
Always refer to the policy wording which can be found in your insurance documents before you purchase.
We receive a fee for any quotes generated via the links to World Nomads found on this site.
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)
If your trip is cancelled, interrupted, or delayed (must be due to events specified in the policy wording), travel insurance can offer cover for your nonrefundable prepaid expenses.
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.
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.
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 may fly you to your home country for the proper hospital treatment you need.
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.
Not stolen – damaged items! If you’ve dropped your brand new iPhone and completely broken it, the right travel insurance company may 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.
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 on the Great Wall of China, 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 or Stolen Baggage
It sucks, but it happens – airlines lose bags everyday.
If your baggage and personal belongings are lost, stolen, or damaged during the trip, coverage may be available.
You may also be reimbursed for extra essential item expenses if your baggage is delayed by an airline or carrier.
The minimum timeframe of the delay will vary depending on your country of residence
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.
Emergency Medical Coverage
The most obvious thing that travel insurance will cover is medical emergencies.
Travel insurance can cover you for overseas emergency medical expenses for accidents or sudden illnesses.
Some providers offer coverage for expenses related to medical evacuation or repatriation if you’re accidentally injured.
For example, if you’re hiking in the woods and you break your leg, your policy may cover your evacuation to hospital or back to your country of residence, if deemed medically necessary.
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.
Alesha had to visit a hospital in Koh Lanta, Thailand after picking up a virus.
What unfolded was a very long and complicated story, where Alesha received fantastic yet over-the-top care.
The bill? Over USD$5,000 for half a day in hospital and some basic medication.
We didn’t have to pay a cent.
Emergency Dental Treatment
Some travel insurance providers also cover emergency dental treatment for accidental injuries that occur during the trip.
It does not include dental work, like checkups or cleanings, fillings, or root canals and the like (or things that can wait until you get back home).
Some providers provide a 24/7 service to assist travellers in sticky situations or emergencies.
The service can help you locate medical providers.
They can also assist with transportation, including an escort, if required, to a medical facility for treatment, or home, if deemed necessary.
Some providers may offer some cover for events related to COVID-19.
Be sure to read the policy wording to understand what’s covered and what the benefits are as these vary depending on your country of residence are subject to all terms, conditions, limitations, and exclusions.
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 15 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: $10,000+
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: $3,000
On that story in Thailand above, 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: $5,00
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
Travel Insurance – Cheapest is Not Always the Best
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.
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.
Plus credit card insurance often has other gaps in their coverage compared to buying a policy with the same provider.
Based on our personal experience, and that of our friends and family, we currently suggest TWO travel insurance companies based on experience.
Those two companies are CoverMore and World Nomads
Travel Insurance Company For Australians And New Zealanders
Having travelled the world using five different travel insurance companies, we have determined that our favourite travel insurance company for Australians is CoverMore.
They have been absolutely amazing every single time we have used them.
What originally made us change policies from to CoverMore wasn’t that we were unhappy with the others – far from it.
It was that we have so much photography equipment, and CoverMore offered a higher coverage rate for electronics. That is the only reason.
They were also one of the first Australian insurance companies to
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 Suggest CoverMore?
- CoverMore 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 Zurich Australian Insurance Limited.
- CoverMore 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, including Alesha’s heart condition.
- Great annual and multi-trip plans.
- Very affordable.
Why Do We Suggest 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 100 countries.
- Affordable. Not the cheapest, but very good value.
Disclaimer: We are not sponsored by CoverMore 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 suggest 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.