Travel Insurance

A lot of people ask me about travel insurance and whether it is necessary or not to purchase before a trip. This is always an interesting question and one that I am very on the fence. I have purchased travel insurance before, 3 times to be exact for some of my larger trips to more volatile areas of the world. However, I have never used it-which I guess is good but afterwards you feel like you wasted money-which is basically the problem with insurance in general. My recommendation is generally to get it, although I don’t always listen to my own advice but I have several examples of people who have benefitted from having it.

I know a guy, who also has a travel site who was traveling to Mt. Everest base camp and needed to be airlifted back to Kathmandu because of altitude sickness. This service was very costly as you might imagine and had he not had travel insurance he would’ve been stuck with a $15,000 bill. Additionally, my own grandmother was in Thailand and got injured. Had she not had travel insurance she would have had to pay for the entire hospital stay in Bangkok plus the private medical flight back to the States which could have run in excess of $25,000. These are two glowing examples of the benefits of having travel insurance.

On the other hand, I have met several people on the road who got into trouble, be it with malaria or dengue fever or just an injury or food poisoning and had to go to the hospital in another country. The problem generally is that you need to front the cash at the foreign hospital and then get reimbursed by the insurance company later. These people did not have travel insurance and would have been denied service had they not paid ahead of time. They were out several hundred to thousands of dollars and there was no recourse.

Travel insurance can cost into the hundreds of dollars depending on how long you are going away for. I generally buy it from STA Travel if I decide to get it as they have fairly cheap rates with good coverage. I did not get it for my month long West Africa trip because I simply forgot to do it and was slightly uneasy being in that part of the world without it. Luckily, nothing bad happened. However, once again I will definitely be purchasing it for my summer trip which will be covering most of the globe.

One other important thing is to remember and be aware that travel insurance doesn’t cover everything. Be sure to see what it covers and doesn’t cover and it varies by company and agency. Flight cancellations and lost luggage is only sometimes covered and check into hospitalization and repatriation of remains which would be the most important and costly factors. Additionally, always leave a copy of your policy with someone back home-just in case.

If you’re off travelling and not sure where to start, why not check out this specialist backpacker travel insurance.

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  1. I buy travel insurance for every trip I take. I never travel anywhere dangerous but feel much better having it. I can’t believe you didn’t have it for Africa. I would have slept horribly. I love your site and your stories by the way and this is the first time I’ve commented but I check it daily. Good luck on your quest!


  2. Travel insurance is for wimps…where’s the adventure in that???

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