Travelling is an exciting adventure – exploring new and mysterious places and widening horizons! However, if something were to go wrong on – or before – your travels, you’d want to know that you’re looked after and covered financially.

The subject of insurance can be confusing. This often causes people to ignore it until the last minute, or simply avoid it altogether. The important thing to remember is that, armed with the proper information, travel insurance isn’t as complex as it seems. We’ve covered some travel insurance basics in our Travel Insurance 101 Guide. But now, we dive deeper into the subject and explain it in more detail.

What is Travel Insurance and How Does it Work

Travel insurance is simply protection while you are travelling. It’s usually bought after you book your trip – flights and accommodation included – but before you depart. Anyone about to travel should make sure they have travel insurance set up before they leave. This is why we require all our travellers to have insurance before they depart on any of our tours.

Also, many embassies will refuse visas to anyone who doesn’t have travel insurance. This is especially true for the Shengen visa that you might need when you travel to any of the Schengen area countries.  So,  to avoid being denied entry to your destination of choice, the wise option is to buy travel insurance.

Related: What is a visa and do I need one for my tour? 

The Schengen State Flag
The Schengen visa is obtained easier when you have good travel insurance.

What is Covered by Travel Insurance and What Should Travel Insurance Include

As with any insurance, travel insurance comes in a variety of options. To be sure of what you’re covered for you’ll need to check the company’s policies. Some of the things that are covered by travel insurance include:

  • Trip cancellations
  • Medical emergencies during your trip
  • Lost luggage
  • Medical evacuations
  • Flight and/or vehicle accidents on your trip

However, there are some instances where you may not be covered. These can be taking part in extreme sports while travelling. Any pre-existing conditions or losses or injuries incurred while committing a crime.

Types of Travel Insurance

    • Not all travel insurance is the same, and there are many different plans which cover a variety of events:
    • Medical travel insurance covers you for medical emergencies while you’re travelling.
    • Vacation plan travel insurance covers the cost of flights and accommodation should you need to delay or cancel your trip.
    • Personal liability travel insurance is there for any unfortunate events where you may cause injuries or damage to somebody else.

How to Buy Travel Insurance

Unlike other insurance types, travel insurance is paid for once off – instead of with multiple premiums. You purchase a plan online the same way you do any other shopping! Fill out a form, pay for the package and print out your confirmation form.  It is usually a simple and seamless process, and doesn’t take much time.

Admiring the scenery in Peru, South America
Admiring the scenery in Peru, South America

What’s the Best Way to Sign up For Travel Insurance? 

It’s very important to research the different companies and pick the one that suits you best. You also have to read all of their policies, and terms and conditions and make sure the insurance will cover you as needed. Sign up for a policy as soon as you’ve booked your flights and trip.

Important questions to ask Your Travel Insurance Provider

  • If you’re not quite sure about your travel insurance plan, here are some handy questions you could ask your provider. These should help you feel more secure with your policy.
  • How much of my medical bills are covered with the insurance policy?
  • What is the maximum age for this policy? Will my age affect my travel insurance coverage?
  • Will there be excess to pay? How much is this?
  • Will my medical bills be paid directly? Or do I need to pay for them and then claim back?
  • Must I seek approval from the insurance company before seeking medical help?
  • Can I contact the company 24/7 in the event of an emergency?
  • Can I extend my policy if I decide to stay longer?
Bike Adventures in Bolivia
Bike adventures (in Bolivia) are so much more fun if you take them with the ease of mind that you are covered if anything happens.

How Much is Travel Insurance
Many people worry about how much travel insurance costs. It is usually a percentage of your total trip costs. This percentage will depend on the insurance company but usually ranges between 4% and 10%. However, some insurance companies will base the cost of travel insurance on the benefits you need. Travel insurance prices are also reliant on the traveller’s age, length of the trip, and the level of cover needed.

Good News! Many companies will give you lower insurance costs if you’re buying a package tour.

Tip: Contact your medical insurer, and your credit card company to see if you are already covered for your travels. Some credit companies offer you free travel insurance if you pay for your trip using your credit card. BUT be careful about what this insurance actually covers.

What is Travel Insurance Excess

Much like other insurance policies, your travel insurance may require an excess to be paid. This simply means that you may have to pay a portion of your claim. You can get travel insurance with lower premiums, but you’ll have to pay more excess. This can sometimes help, if you’re looking to pay less for your travel insurance – provided that you are prepared to pay should something happen.

Family atop Table Mountain, Cape Town.
Family atop Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Where to Find the Best Travel Insurance Options

Expat Explore’s recommended travel insurance provider is World Nomads. They offer comprehensive travel insurance for all nationalities and cover travellers’ needs appropriately. We use them often, and so do many of our travellers.

However, depending on which country you are from, and what your specific travel insurance needs are, there may be another provider that suits you best. . You are always free to pick your own travel insurance company.  If we can give you one last piece of travel insurance advice, it would be to do your research. Always choose a policy that suits your individual needs. Make sure you are adequately covered in the event of an unfortunate emergency. It’s also wise to be sure that you understand the terms and conditions of your policy.

As much as we hope you’ll never have to use your travel insurance, hopefully, this guide has answered your questions. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, whether you’re visiting a country close by or going all the way across the globe; heading off on a short trip or a lengthy tour of exploring – travel insurance should always be a priority.

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