I have a secret to tell you today. Despite the fact that I am the clumsiest and klutziest person alive, I never used to think I didn’t need travel insurance. Just like you, I would hear about all these awful accidents but would always think, oh, that would never happen to me. Right. Throughout all my travels, although I would always manage to hurt myself, most of the time, they were all minor bruises and scrapes that I could easily go to a local clinic for if needed. However, all that changed when I ended up needing 21 stitches all over my hands and arms due to a freak accident in Vietnam.
Everywhere you go, you see forums with people asking, “I’m on a tight budget, do I really need travel insurance?” or “Can’t I just go to the local clinics and hospital? Doing that would be much cheaper than taking out a plan.” Let me tell you the truth, yes, travel insurance is expensive and most of the time, they are an inconvenience. However, an even bigger inconvenience would be having to fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills. The worst part is if anything bad does happen to you and you don’t have the money to begin with, you could bankrupt your family as they try to scramble to get you the needed funds to save your life.
Recently, the news has placed a spotlight on the increase of Go Fund Me pages being set up for travelers getting into accidents. While the kindness and generosity of strangers is humbling, save yourself and others the trouble and just don’t leave home without it. Now, I don’t mean to be a Debby-downer, really but to prove my point, here are a few myths about travel insurance and why leaving home without it isn’t recommended.
Travel Insurance Myths
Myth # 1: Travel Insurance is Only for Adrenaline Junkies
A common myth that most people have is that travel insurance is only for the adrenaline loving extreme adventurers. You know, those that fill their travels with every type of adventurous activity like trekking, scuba diving, base jumping, and the like. Let me tell you something, just because you don’t intend on doing any of those extreme activities, it doesn’t mean that you won’t need travel insurance. Consider these scenarios:
- You’re en route to the airport and your train gets delayed, causing you to miss your flight- that’s what travel insurance is for.
- A pickpocket steals your latest iPhone and camera- that’s what travel insurance is for.
- Your bag gets delayed and you’re stranded in a foreign place with no clothes- that’s what insurance is for.
Just because you intend to spend most your time in museums and cities, it doesn’t mean that you won’t need travel insurance. As we are adventurous travelers, we would never even think about leaving home without one (lesson learned on my end!) Our insurance of choice, World Nomads just so happens to cover over 150+ activities and sports including everyday stuff like golf, swimming, snorkeling to the more extreme sports like rock climbing, skydiving etc. If you want to take a look at the activities that they cover, you can check it out here.
Myth # 2: Nothing Will Ever Happen to Me, I’m Super Careful
Sorry to say but accidents, especially travel accidents can happen anywhere. Even if you’re always sensible, some things are unavoidable. At any point, you can fall ill, get into an accident, your flight can get canceled, you could get robbed, etc. Thinking that it would never happen to you is just not the right mindset. The only way to avoid any unnecessary hassles is to be ready with solutions. Having travel insurance as a precaution for all the what-ifs that can happen on the road can really make a difference.
No matter how healthy you are, unfortunate things can still happen to you. I think that one thing that a lot of people forget is the fact that travel insurance doesn’t just cover you. In case of emergencies like family accidents, family deaths, etc. Your travel insurance will also cover you to fly back home to be with them in their time of need.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all of these to scare you and keep you worried. In fact, having travel insurance is one way to make sure you have peace of mind while traveling.
Myth #3: Airlines Will Cover My Missed Flights
One of my worst travel nightmares is missing a connecting flight. My partner and I once took a hairy 27-hour flight to South America (it was stupidly cheap and since we were on a tight budget, we decided to take it despite the ridiculous flight time.) During those 27 hours, we caught 4 flights, all of which had short connecting times. Literally, we were running from one airport gate to the next.
Luckily, all our flights were on time. A couple on the flight before us though was stuck in Germany as they had missed their connecting flight. As they were traveling using different airlines, the delayed carrier refused to do anything to help get them on the next connecting flight. Poor guys had missed 2 flight connections because a few passengers delayed their boarding procedure. They sat there by the boarding gate arguing profusely with the airline and scrambling to buy new flights which would cost them both at least $1000 each.
Most airlines, especially budget carriers won’t reimburse you for missed connecting flights. In fact, most airline fine prints advise you to a lot a couple of hours between flights as a precaution. Travel insurance will cover you for flight delays and cancellations, regardless if it is due to bad weather, family emergencies, or routine airline delays.
Myth #4 Travel Insurance Never Reimburses Your Claims Anyways
Yes, collecting claims from travel insurance companies is a pain. It really is. However, as you can imagine, they get hundreds if not thousands of people trying to push their cases forward. Not to mention those who try to fraud the systems. In my previous World Nomads Review article, I also stated a few tips in making your insurance claim as hassle free as possible. Documenting everything and being as thorough as possible will help your claims.
If you’re unsure if your policy will cover something, most of them have 24/7 hotlines which you can easily call. Apart from that, get receipts, police reports, or hotel statements. Basically, anything that can back up your claim. If you read the fine print (btw…ALWAYS read the fine print), follow everything to a tee, then there is no reason why they shouldn’t honor your claim.
Myth #5: It is Cheaper to Pay Out of Pocket, Especially if I am Traveling to Cheap Countries
Yes, most of the time, medical care in some countries like Latin America and Asia are cheap so forking out $800-1000 on travel insurance seems silly, however, things are only cheap, depending on the gravity of your situation. If you need anything like emergency evacuation, surgery, or need to be placed in the ICU, these things will easily add up. Not having to worry about the cost of medical bills also means that you can avail of the best possible care possible. Got into a bad motorcycle accident in Thailand? Instead of making do with the local hospital where doctors speak a limited amount of English, you can ask to get transferred to a private hospital to ensure the best care.
World Nomads: Our Travel Insurance of Choice
The bottom line is yeah, you REALLY need travel insurance. When traveling, so many unpredictable things can happen and no matter how careful you are, how tight of a budget you’re in, or how healthy you are, delays can happen, family emergencies can happen and getting travel insurance just provides you with peace of mind.
As mentioned, World Nomads Travel Insurance is our insurance of choice due to the wide range of activities that it covers plus the easy online booking and claim system. As we travel full time, being able to take out a policy when you’re not in your home country is also pretty important. Luckily, we’ve never had to use it for anything major (and we hope we never have to) but have had friends who have gone through the claiming process no questions asked. Although their prices are competitive, they are not the cheapest but to be perfectly honest, when it comes to travel insurance, you don’t really want to go for the cheapest. Instead, go for a company that is well recommended, reputable, and trustworthy.
So for peace of mind, for unforeseeable events, delays, and medical emergencies, save yourself and the people around you the hassle. Even the most budget of travelers should make travel insurance a priority. Now that you have travel insurance out of the way, you can now move on to other fun stuff like trip planning and actually enjoying your trip! Enjoy and safe travels.
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