Travel insurance. The least sexy part of travelling. You don’t want to have to spend the money on it, but end up buying it anyway because you know the day you don’t will be the day you need it. While we would much prefer to talk about far more adventurous topics, travel insurance is one of those irritatingly important parts of travelling that you really do need to think about before you go abroad. Here are our top 10 hacks for travel insurance, from sifting through small print to claiming the big bucks.
1. Check to see if you have travel insurance already
You could have travel coverage right now and not even know it! Some credit cards, bank accounts, and home insurance will include some travel, so it’s well worth checking your existing accounts before you start searching for a new policy. It might not cover you for extended trips, but for quick getaways it could be perfect.
2. Check medical cover
An elementary travel insurance tip. The level of medical coverage you need with depend on the nature of the trip you’re taking. For most regular vacations you’ll be fine with the lowest level of medical cover, which usually gives you between 3 and 4 million dollars of cover (it sounds like a lot, but medical procedures really do cost that much!). If you’re not sure that this will be enough, take a look at the trip you’re taking and think about the medical problems you might run into. In all likelihood it will be enough, but if you’re worried then take a look at a level of cover a little higher and see if it’s worth the extra money.
While we’re on the subject of health, make sure you have all the vaccinations recommended by your doctor for the destination you’re travelling to. If you don’t, and you get struck down with the virus, your insurance company may well not pay out for medical cover as you didn’t take proper precautions.
3. Pay a little extra to get a lot more
Most travel insurance companies will have different levels of cover to choose from, often broken down into bronze, silver, gold, etc. Make sure you check the difference in these levels because sometimes a simple step up, with not too much difference in price, can get you a lot more bang for your buck.
4. Know your valuables cover
After yourself, your valuables will be the next thing you need to look after with insurance. Firstly, know the difference between baggage and electronics. The term ‘baggage’ refers to your bags and day to day items, such as clothing. Electronics and valuables will be in an entirely separate section in your policy.
Secondly, if you’re travelling with expensive gear, make sure you look for the single item coverage. The last thing you want is to be crying into your lens cap because that’s all that’s left of a $1,000 camera, thinking you had all the coverage you need when really your insurance company only covers a capped amount for each single item.
Also, many companies will not pay out if you don’t have proof of purchase. Keep hold of those receipts, and if they’re long gone, make sure you take photos of serial numbers and bank statements and save them to your email. That way you’ll at least have something to show that you once owned it.
5. Always get a police report
It’s so important that you make sure you report any relevant incidents to the police within 24 hours of their occurrence. Many travel insurance companies will not pay out if you don’t have a police report within that time frame.
6. Watch out for residency rules
This is a cheeky little trick that insurance companies play, and something you might not know unless you read the small print. Most policies stipulate that you need to have lived in your country of residence for at least 6 of the last 12 months for the policy to be valid. This won’t concern the regular holidaymaker, but expats should always check a policy for this.
7. Consider additional sports and activities
The extra adventurous among us will have to add additional cover onto their policies if they’re taking part in sports or activities that put them at a higher level of risk. This includes winter and extreme sports, long distance hiking or cycling, and everything else in between. Check your policy for full listing of sports coverage, and add any extra activities you need.
8. Check your visa requirements
If you’re planning on living and working in another country for a while, your visa might require you to have certain inclusions in your insurance. Always check these before you go ahead and book your regular insurance, because sometimes they can completely change the kind of policy you need.
9. Take care of yourself
Every single travel insurance policy out there will stipulate that you need to take reasonable care of yourself. We all love a good party with a tipple or two, but if you get wasted to the point where you get yourself into trouble, in all likelihood your insurance company won’t pay for anything that might happen to you. Regardless of insurance, looking after yourself is Travel 101 – stay smart.
10. Just go with World Nomads
We recommend World Nomads insurance time and time again because they seem to be one of the few companies out there who cut out all sneaky little rules and just let travellers be travellers. If you’re just going on a short vacation to somewhere easy you can probably find cheaper insurance elsewhere, but if you’re going on an epic adventure or travelling long term, World Nomads are your guys.