15 travel insurance tips to get it right
To make sure you know what you need to look for in a travel insurance policy and that you get the cover you need, I’ve put together my best travel insurance tips for families.
When it comes to deciding whether to buy travel insurance, it doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, or whether you’re going to lie on a beach all day. It doesn’t matter how safe the country is, or how “lucky” a person you are, you absolutely shouldn’t go overseas without travel insurance.
To give you an idea, our visit to the USA in 2017 cost $15 a day to insure the four of us with premium insurance from World Nomads that covered all our activities, and most major and minor eventualities. At $340 in total, this was a small price to pay in case we had a phone, camera or iPad stolen; got sick or into an accident; lost our luggage; missed a flight; or one of the many other things that could have gone wrong. Luckily nothing did go wrong on that trip but we had the peace of mind that someone was there to pay for it and help us out if it did.
Here are my top 15 travel insurance tips for families.
1. Buy directly from the insurance company if you want to save money. It could be as much as 15 percent. In saying that, if you’re new to travelling or if you’re booking your travel through a travel agent, then I’d pay a little more and book your insurance through the travel agent too.
2. Always buy your travel insurance on the same day as you pay for the first major part of your trip such as flights, tours, or accommodation. All too often before you leave, someone gets sick or injured, loses a job, or some other change in circumstances, and you end up having to delay or cancel your trip.
3. The travel insurance offered with your credit card rarely provides sufficient coverage for overseas travel, so make sure you read the fine print and compare with other policies.
4. No matter how great you think your homeland is, most governments won’t pay for the medical treatment of its citizen’s overseas or medical evacuation home. To give you an idea, the average cost of medical evacuation is $75,000 to $95,000! Wow.
5. Don’t underestimate how much travel insurance you will need. Some countries charge an exorbitant amount for their health care and you need to make sure you’re not going to be hugely out of pocket.
6. Check what definition of ‘family’ the insurer is using. How many dependents are included in the cover, and up to what age? Does it cover step-children, cousins or any other children travelling with you?
7. Check you’re covered for all your activities. Activities often need to be listed and you may pay extra. It’s not just bungee jumping and rock climbing; you also need to declare things like skiing, cycling, deep-sea fishing, and kayaking.
8. What cover do you have for natural disasters and bad weather? If there is flooding or volcanic ash clouds, will the insurance company pay if you’re travel is delayed or cancelled?
9. What are you covered for if you get caught up in a terrorist attack? Every insurer is different but you may likely find you won’t be covered for everything.
10. If a family member, close friend or even business partner at home becomes seriously ill or dies, is the cost of returning home and cancelled tours and accommodation covered? We have had to return home on day one of a five-week tour of Africa. The cost of the flight home to Australia was well over $3,000 each, plus we also got back the entire cost of the tour (less the excess) through travel insurance, which meant all our hard earned money wasn’t gone.
11. Make sure your insurer is available 24/7 and can easily be contacted from your destination in case of emergency. No point in having insurance if you can’t contact them.
12. Are you hiring a car? Check out what is covered. While you will most likely still need to take out rental car insurance with the rental car company to cover damages and liability, a good travel insurance will pay your rental car excess up to a certain amount, if you have an accident. Your travel insurance can also be effective in returning your car to the depot if you have to leave early.
13. Make sure you have an understanding of what documentation the insurance company needs from you to file a claim, such as a police report, photos or invoices.
14. Read the fine print! As boring as it may sound, before you book your next trip, you need to know what you are and aren’t covered for, and how to claim. It will save you a lot of angst and arguments if you need to claim.
15. Shop around to find a policy that meets your specific needs. We choose to use World Nomads as they make it easy to understand what is and isn’t included, are very flexible, have a good reputation when it comes to claims, and are trusted by the likes of Lonely Planet, Intrepid, Eurail and of course us. We have used CoverMore before without any dramas, and hear good things about World2Cover.
Safe travels. We hope this has helped you get a better idea of what you need to consider when buying travel insurance.