Saturday, 25 January 2020

How to Choose Travel Insurance

When it comes to travel insurance, yes, it's all a little bit different, but there are typically four main types that you should be looking for. I will briefly break down each category into simple human terms so you can get an idea of what's covered and what you should be looking for, so you can get as much coverage as you need without paying any more than you need to. 

  • Disclaimer
  • All companies are different in what they will cover and how much they will cover.

  • Read Your Policy.
  • This article is a generalization of what may be included in each category and potential exclusions you should be on the lookout for. 

let's Get Started

I'm hoping my stories will be a way to convince you to get travel insurance without having to lecture you on the fact that you should get travel insurance, which you really should.

1. Emergency Medical

Emergency medical coverage can reimburse you for the costs associated with medical treatment for an illness or injury while you are outside of your home country. This can include coverage for the medication you need. The treatment you have to get, the hospital stay, and even the ambulance that's going to get you to that hospital. I was hiking in the Rocky Mountains with a friend from Australia... He had travel insurance, thank god. But we were up there 10 hours into the hike. He ended up in a rockslide, broke his leg and had to be airlifted by a helicopter off the mountain. That helicopter ride alone would have been thousands of dollars that he thankfully did not have to pay for.

You'll want to read your policy very carefully "cause there are a lot of exceptions as to what's going to be covered and circumstances where things won't be covered. It's often not covered if something happens and you've been taking recreational drugs or alcohol. So, if you drank too much and you have alcohol poisoning, you might not be covered.

Preexisting Condition

Another exclusion is any preexisting condition that is not stable or under control. A preexisting condition is an injury, illness, disease, or other medical condition, that occurs prior to travel for which you've had symptoms and sought a diagnosis, medical treatment, and are on a new prescription or there's been a change in your prescription.

The key here is that it's something known.

If you book a physical one week before your trip, and then your doctor diagnoses you with high blood pressure and you have a complication with this high blood pressure while you're on your trip, you may not be covered. However, if you went on that trip, didn't have the physical before, didn't know you had high blood pressure, and had a complication with it, you probably would be covered.

If you are not having any health concerns, you may not want to go for your checkup right before your trip. So that's a risk you have to weigh the pros and cons on. And make the decision for yourself. 

Obviously, any nonemergency medical events, if you go to the doctor for a checkup while you're abroad, not going to be covered. Also, every policy is a little bit different as to what activities are and aren't covered. Definitely check this out, because you may be surprised what's considered an adventure activity, like snorkeling. And then you're not covered for any injuries associated with that activity. 

Reckless Behavior Are Not Covered

Another one that's often not covered is if you're doing something that's considered reckless or if you're putting yourself in some sort of unnecessary risk. I swear, when traveling across Asia, every other person I meet has been in some sort of motorbike accident or complication. So, even if the law says you don't need to wear a helmet or you don't need a license, and you don't wear a helmet and you don't have a license and drive, that could be considered reckless behavior by your insurance company, and you probably won't be covered for it. Not being covered for unexpected medical expenses abroad, especially depending on what country you're traveling in, can literally bankrupt you. So, definitely read the policy and consider getting emergency medical if you're going to get any type of travel insurance. 

2. Emergency Evacuation And Repatriation

Usually covers emergency medical evacuations, international security evacuation... So, if there was a terrorist attack or a natural disaster. And then repatriation of your remains back to your country. What that means is that the insurance company will cover the expenses and the arrangements necessary to get the covered body of the insured person back home to their family. Not something you want to think about, but also important. And when it comes to emergency evacuation, check your policy to see where you are evacuated to. Some policies will evacuate you back to your home country, so that's paying for a big flight, while others are going to evacuate you to the nearest place of safety. That's a big difference.

You also may not be covered for emergency evacuation if there's an ongoing or known event in the country that you are traveling to. An example of this would be this ongoing volcano that is erupting

It may be considered a known event that there is a volcano and it is not safe to go there. And therefore, your coverage, if you needed a flight out of the country in an emergency situation, would not be covered. What I recommend you do is to think about where you're going, if you have any questions at all, send in a very detailed email, your exact travel situation, the policy you're getting, and ask point-blank if you will be covered or not. This way you'll have it in writing and you will have peace of mind and you will know. They should get back to you quickly and, if they don't, then pick different travel insurance, because this is something that you need to know. 

3. Trip Cancellation And Interruption

These two are usually packaged together and give you financial protection on the prepared and nonrefundable expenses of your trip. Trip cancellation is going to refund you for the nonrefundable expenses if you don't go on your trip at all, while trip interruption is going to pay you for any unused portions of your trip that you've prepaid for and don't complete. 

Trip Cancellation

Can refund your trip expenses if you cancel the trip before leaving for a reason covered by your policy. Some policies are limited to reason that you are allowed to cancel, like if there's a terrorist attack in the destination, severed weather or death of a family member, or even if you're soo sick to travel. But there's also another type of upgrade you can usually get, which is "cancel for any reason" insurance. Which is exactly as it sounds, you can literally cancel for any reason. If you're fighting with your travel partner and you no longer want to go on the trip, you can cancel. If you ended up not getting the raise you expected for your Christmas bonus and you can't afford the trip, you can cancel. This is an upgrade and it's going to cost you more but may be worth it based on your specific situation. 

Trip Interruption

Being the day you leave for your trip and reimburses you for any unused trip expenses. They also will cover the cost of any additional proportion incurred if you need to return home early.   Both trip cancellation and trip interruption become more important if you have prepaid for a lot of the different expenses on your trip. 

4. Theft Or Loss Of Personal Belongings

This refers to coverage if your possessions are lost, stolen, or damaged during your trip. This category can including baggage insurance, electronics, and gear coverage, travel documents like your passport or your diver's license, and some time even money.

Baggage Insurance

Covers travelers in two instance:


It will either reimburse you for any clothes, medication, or other essential items if your baggage is delayed in arriving at the destination. So, if you arrive at an airport and your bags don't, anything that you need while you are waiting for your bags can be reimbursed by the company.


Baggage insurance is also going to cover you up to a specific amount to reimburse you for any items if your baggage is lost. If it's not just delayed but you literally never get it back, you'll receive a certain amount of money to replace those items that were lost in the bag. In addition to delayed or loss of baggage, you can often find policies that are going to reimburse you for any damage, loss, theft of your personal items, gear, electronics... Sometimes even money - not usually. 

This is one of the toughest travel insurance categories that you can claim for because there are a lot of exclusions, like leaving your gear behind, not keeping an eye on your things and then they get stolen, leaving your gear in an unlocked car, or if you don't get a report from authority. Every travel policy I've seen required a report from an authority of some sort. So this could be a police report, or it could be a report from the bus authority if you were riding on that bus while your camera was stolen. You also need to prove that the items were yours and what it was actually valued at, which is going to deteriorate from what you bought it at based on the wear and age. Whether you incur a loss to your gear or to your baggage, you also have to keep in mind that there are often going to be limited per item.

  • Lost Luggage Limitations:
  • Maximum Payout = $2,000
  • Per Item Limit = $500

If you had a $2,000 laptop inside of your luggage and your luggage was lost, you're not going to receive $2,000 back. The most you'll receive, due to the per-item limit, is going to be $500. 


By this point in this article, you should have a good idea of generally what you should be looking for in a policy that you're considering. I'm hoping it will help you decide so you can get all the coverage you need without paying any more than you need to. 

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