What is Travel insurance and why do you need it?

Travel accessories on an old suitcase - white wooden background

Travelling opens us up to a world of infinite possibilities, unfortunately not all of these possibilities are happy ones. With every activity, there’s always an element of risk, no matter how small. Sometimes that risk is injury, and sometimes that risk is the weather affecting your plans. That is where travel insurance steps in. It is designed to take the worry out of your travels knowing everything is in hand if things go wrong. I never travel without, regardless of if its a long adventure or small city break.

Have cancelled flights left you stuck abroad? Or did you make it to your destination but your luggage is lost? Maybe you had an accident and you’re staring at a hospital bill, it’s situations like these that a good insurer will step in to help and get you back to enjoying your adventure. Insurance is protection you should have in place but you hope you never have to use it. Sometimes you have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

Departure board for Travel Insurance guide

Be covered for where you are going

Not all travel insurance providers are created equal, some do not cover travel to certain countries. This makes sense if there’s turmoil or a war going on over there, or an area is considered particularly dangerous. So when planning your travels make sure that where you are visiting is covered. Otherwise you risk invalidating your policy. Some insurers offer unlimited trips, but they have a maximum and minimum length of stay.

As well as what you are doing!

Make sure that the activities you plan to do are covered by your travel insurance, you also want to check that when you plan to do them is covered too. This sounds a little odd at first but it makes sense. When I flew to Australia I checked if I was covered to do activities like skydiving and scuba diving. The guy from customer service said to me that absolutely I was. However, when I probed a little deeper and asked about any restrictions or stipulations, they mentioned I wouldn’t be covered for scuba-diving if I flew within 48 hours after the experience.

Whilst I understand this is to prevent getting the bends, a condition affecting those who change altitudes too quickly, I wish they had made it more evident. If I hadn’t asked that extra question I never would have known. As it turned out the day I could scuba dive was the day before I was due to leave fly to Melbourne. I couldn’t change the date of my scuba dive due to the short time scheduled for Cairns. So I decided to change my flight instead and stay in Cairns longer to explore the waterfalls.

How much Travel Insurance cover do I need?

It’s crazy how much companies offer in terms of medical coverage nowadays, with some offering up to a million. However, if you have an accident then you can focus fully on recovering without worrying about a hefty bill after. Believe it or not, countries with well-established healthcare are some of the ones you have to be the most careful in. Take the USA for example, dispute the fact they churn out Medical dramas advertising how advanced their healthcare system is, you will actually be charged to go to the hospital in an ambulance. If you are in a bad enough condition that you actually need to call 911, the last thing on your mind will be ringing around doing price comparisons.

Take your documents (as well as a copy)

It’s just common sense to have a copy of your policy close by if something happens. On longer trips, I often have a printout, but at minimum, I will have a digital copy on my phone and tablet. It also makes sense to have their claims and emergency line on your phone. Better to spend 5 mins getting it now when you have wifi rather than struggle to get it later.

Alcohol and Travel Insurance don’t mix

As much as we like to have a drink with me abroad, it’s not uncommon to drink to excess. Unfortunately, if you are intoxicated and you are claiming for an injury that happened as a result of your drinking, then your claim can be denied leaving you with a hefty bill. So as tempting as all-inclusive hotel bars can be, putting a limit on yourself isn’t a bad idea. You can get drunk anywhere in the world, so don’t turn a trip of a lifetime into a lifetime’s worth of medical bills.

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