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Is travel insurance necessary? This is a question that I’ve either been asked or that you’ve asked yourself every time you purchased that plane ticket. Whether or not you need to insure your trip is a decision only you can make.
But consider this:
You packed a suitcase full of nice clothing, hiking shoes, sunglasses, etc. Heck, the suitcase itself might be worth $200-300! You have a smaller (or maybe even larger) bag for your electronics and camera equipment.
The truth is, if you add up everything you brought on a basic trip – even for just a few days, it can total several thousand dollars. Case in point: That iPhone you’re carrying will cost you over $800 to replace, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield health insurance you carry doesn’t give a crap about it.
So, is travel insurance necessary?
Do you want to risk having to buy all this stuff from scratch or do you think spending $50-$100 extra on an insurance plan might be worth it? I do.
Is travel insurance necessary if you have health insurance?
That’s a question people ask a lot too, and for me, it boils down to one phone call I made a few years ago (and a few since) when I called my insurance provider to ask them if I am covered for medical emergencies overseas.
They said I am. But when I asked about the details of what’s covered and what’s not, they could never answer me. Never. Not once. I’d be willing to bet that you’d have the same experience. Go ahead. Make that call. No one will know for sure. And even if they do, they won’t give you a straight answer.
If you did pause here and call, I bet you experienced the same thing – a person who could say yes when you asked if you’re covered, but couldn’t answer anything about the details.
When that happened to me, I decided it was worth it to look for a good travel insurance policy online.
Through Lonely Planet, I found World Nomads. I learned that the company was started by travelers like me. So I figured they at least understood what I needed as far as a policy goes – trip cancellation and interruption, baggage protection, evacuation insurance, etc.
And you won’t get any of this with your private health insurer, obviously.
That’s what was important to me.
Even if my health insurer at home would cover some of my medical costs, I wanted to be sure that a dedicated travel insurance company was there to cover the rest.
Because while Blue Cross might pay to set a broken arm, I seriously doubted that they would pay the cost to evacuate me from the remote village I broke my arm in.
(Besides, I asked them. No one knew anyway!)
I travel to remote places where there might not even be a doctor. And that could cost $50,000 or even ten times more, depending on how remote the location!
Making insurance claims with World Nomads
I’ve never had to make a travel insurance claim with my private insurer at home, thankfully, because other than minor ailments, I’ve never been sick on the road.
But if it’s anything like that phone call I made to ask about travel insurance benefits, I’m glad!
However, I have made a claim through World Nomads for a nearly $500 GoPro I lost on a boat in Lembongan, Indonesia.
The GoPro claim was simple. I got a note from the company I was with that confirmed I lost it and where. I sent World Nomads that document and the receipt I had saved from Amazon.
They paid my insurance claim quickly, easily, and without any questions other than asking for the above documentation.
Fortunately, I have not had to make any serious claims for health emergencies. I’ve been to over 50 countries, so I’ve been lucky, I guess.
But I hope I never have to.
If I ever do, I’m glad to say I always insure my trips with travel insurance from World Nomads.
In fact, I’ve bought over 20 policies through them since 2010.
We always use World Nomads
I’m a Canadian citizen who has lived in the United States since 1999. Halef has been here since 1998. Even on occasions when we travel to Canada, we buy a policy through World Nomads.
But I think it’s especially important to buy when you’re heading somewhere you know has a pretty sub-standard healthcare system. Earlier in 2016, a friend of mine had to go to the hospital.
We thought he had some pretty serious damage to his hand from a sting while diving.
Fortunately, his doctor visit in Sorong, Indonesia only ended up costing about $20. But what if, instead of something that turned out to be non-serious, it was a serious sting that required evacuation to Jakarta.
Or even to Singapore?
It would have cost tens of thousands or dollars.
Is travel insurances necessary on trips like these? Yes. Definitely. You do.
And that’s where a good policy, like one purchased through World Nomads, can come into play.
Why buy travel insurance from World Nomads?
- Backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners
- Buy Online, even if you’ve already left home
- Extend and claim online while traveling
- Covers a range of adventure sports and activities
- Give a little back and support a community development project
Now, I’m not stupid. I know insurance is a business, and the business of every insurance company is to minimize payments and put those premiums toward their bottom line.
But my experience so far buying travel insurance through World Nomads has been great. I’ll be buying from them for all my trips in the foreseeable future.
Does World Nomads cover Scuba diving?
Is travel insurance necessary that covers scuba diving specifically? Well, World Nomads now has that covered, too. They always covered scuba diving. But until recently, you had to purchase a more expensive plan.
Now you don’t.
If you’re a scuba diver, you’ll be happy to know that yes, World Nomads insures your recreational scuba diving trip. The only thing you need to do is make sure you don’t go any further down than 50 meters – but no responsible recreational diver is going down farther than 40 meters anyway.
Risky scuba diving requires insurance from people who specialize in it.
But for regular diving trips, I always cover those with World Nomads. This is especially true when they’re expensive liveaboard trips. On trips like these the risk of a dive injury is very low.
And it’s even lower when you dive with a reputable company that won’t put you in risky situations (which is most companies, to be honest).
When is travel insurance not worth it?
There are very few cases, in my opinion, where it’s not. Having said that, there are hundreds of web sites out there who tell you travel insurance is a waste of money.
And yes, there are probably situations where it isn’t.
But if you read further into them, you’ll notice that many of them come down to the same argument a lot of Americans use to avoid buying regular health insurance at home.
“I’m generally pretty healthy.”
In other words, the authors have accepted the risk based on the fact that, generally, they feel they can beat the odds. They “believe” they can handle accidentally brushing their teeth with the tap water in a rustic little town in Central America.
That’s a pretty lame excuse for not buying travel insurance.
But still, there are times when you may not need it.
Credit Cards offer travel insurance
Is travel insurance necessary if your credit card offers it? I’ve have a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. It costs me $450 a year, and if I pay for my trip expenses with it, Chase says I am covered under their travelers insurance program.
Although I am sure that’s true, I’ve yet to test it.
You can afford to lose money and stuff
If you paid $800 for a non-refundable flight and put down a deposit on a hotel room and can afford to lose that, then perhaps that part of the travel the insurance isn’t worth it.
This goes without saying. But, since I’m not rich, I’ll stick with my World Nomads policies, thankyouverymuch!
The bottom line
Is travel insurance necessary for your trip?
Yes. it is.
Whether it’s from World Nomads or somewhere else, don’t put yourself (or your family or travel companions) in a position of going broke because you didn’t want to pay an extra $50-100 for a trip that already cost you a couple of thousand dollars.
It’s not worth it NOT to have travel insurance.
Updated with new scuba diving information on May 30, 2018.
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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert. Michael has traveled to over 50 countries learning how to experience more for less as he travels.