Before I go on with this entry, I have to confess something: this was the first time I purchased travel insurance – very risky, I know. But thankfully I’ve been incredibly lucky to have never needed it. This meant serious research on my part to find the best coverage for an entire year in Australia, specially because as a Canadian, I’m not covered under MediCare. My research took couple weeks, lots of phone calls, and an over-the-phone argument with an agent BUT I am extremely excited to share the results with you guys!
Firstly, let me just say that no one ever buys travel insurance hoping to use it, but if you do end up having to do so you want to make sure you are in good hands. So don’t cheap out on travel insurance and make sure you’ve got the best coverage for your trip.
TRAVEL INSURANCE COVERAGE CAN INCLUDE…
- Emergency medical insurance
- Emergency evacuation
- Trip interruption & cancellation
- Flight delays
- Lost or stolen baggage
- Hotel/motel burglary
- Travel accident (insurance in case of accidental death)
- Car insurance
- Personal belongings
WHAT KIND OF COVERAGE DO I NEED?
Depending on the type of trip you’re taking, you might not need most of the items on the list. The most important coverage to look for in an insurance package is emergency medical and emergency evacuation. It’s recommended to go for a package that has at least $100,000 in medical coverage. Some questions to ask yourself when deciding on a travel insurance package are as follows:
- How long are you going away for?
- Will you have health insurance in your home country?
- Are you booking lots of flights, trains, hotels, etc. in advance?
- Are you taking valuables with you on the trip?
- What percentage of your trip is prepaid and non-refundable?
- Will you be taking part in any high-risk activities (i.e. skydiving, bungee jumping, etc.)?
ALTERNATIVES TO TRAVEL INSURANCE PACKAGES
If you’re paying for your trip using your credit cards (which you totally should be because, travel points aka cheaper flights!), then you might be covered for some travel related insurance. You also have the option of topping up your insurance if your credit card company doesn’t cover you for your entire trip. I’ve been using the AMEX Gold Rewards card and am extremely happy with the travel related insurance that it comes with.
READ THE FINE PRINT
Probably the most annoyingly time consuming part of the process but it has to be done. Make sure you understand everything in the fine print before you agree to buy!
GET YOUR INSURANCE QUESTIONS ANSWERED
You might have some questions while reading the fine print, jot them down and call the insurance company to get your answers. This is a great way to familiarize yourself with the overall feel of the company and the level of professionalism and customer service they offer.
GET A QUOTE
You can do this either online or by calling the insurance company directly. I prefer calling because I can explain the nature of my trip and let the experts decide what type of insurance would best suit me.
EXPLORE YOUR OPTIONS
By now, you should have a pretty good idea of what kind of coverage you need for your trip, but don’t book just yet, shop around with other companies who may offer similar packages at a lower price. Finding a quote online is easy but can be time consuming due to the hundreds of insurance companies out there. Websites like Insurance Hotline make it easy by comparing packages offered by various travel insurance providers that could be right for your trip!
LOOK UP REVIEWS
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT BUY TRAVEL INSURANCE WITHOUT LOOKING UP THE REVIEWS FIRST. Actually, this goes for purchasing anything, but I say this specifically for travel insurance because there is a particular travel insurance company that’s paying travel bloggers to promote their brand by writing about how they are the best choice for backpackers while reviews by travellers who have used their services state that half the time their claim doesn’t even get acknowledged!
BOOK WITH INSURANCE AGENCIES AT A DISCOUNTED PRICE
In order to stay competitive, insurance agencies have special discounted rates that are not accessible to the public. So now that you’ve found yourself a winner, take the quote to an agent and have them buy the same package for you at a lower price! *NOTE* Insurance agencies usually have a limited number of companies they work with so before visiting an agency, call and make sure they offer packages from the insurance company you’re interested in. Chances are, even if they don’t work with that company, they can still get a similar package from a different provider at a lower price.
LAST FEW TIPS…
BUY YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE ASAP!
It’s recommended that you buy your travel insurance as soon as you have booked your flights. Say, for example you buy your travel insurance today and your flight is cancelled due to a natural disaster tomorrow, then your flight is covered under insurance.
DOCUMENT EVERYTHING & MAKE EXTRA COPIES
In order to start a claim with an insurance company you need proof for that claim. For example, if you miss your trip due to a sickness, you need a doctor’s note advising you to stay home to support your claim. Make scanned copies of all supporting documents for your claim. Some travellers advise that you make physical copies, but I’d personally find that too much to travel with. An electronic copy saved on iCloud or Google Drive can be accessed from anywhere in the world and it’s no extra weight to carry around.
TAKE PHOTOS OF VALUABLES
If you’ve purchased insurance for your valuables such as jewelry and electronics, make sure to take detailed photos of all of them. Write down the model and serial number of laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc. on a document and store it on iCloud or Google Drive so you have it with you at all times.
Hope this entry has been helpful! Do you think I’ve missed anything? Leave a comment and let me know!