Travelling wouldn’t be fun without surprises. But sometimes the unexpected leaves you whimpering in a hospital bed when you should be exploring the jungle. Injuries, illnesses, and even spewing volcanoes can tear up your perfect itinerary. And that’s where travel insurance can save you from distress – or at least from some of the costs, depending on the policy you buy.
Reading through your policy won’t get your pulse racing, but it’s essential to check how you’re covered, what’s not covered and any conditions that apply before you set out – whether you bought annual travel insurance or cover for a short trip. Let’s face it, you won’t be in the mood to read through travel insurance exclusions if you’re shivering with dengue fever in Borneo, or nursing a broken hip (turns out you can’t ski backwards).
You might think it’s ‘fine print’ but you really don’t need that magnifying glass. So let’s look at a few things you should consider:
Medical insurance. If the guidebook told you there were piranhas and you go for a swim anyway this isn’t covered, as it is putting yourself in a needless risk situation, and are not taking reasonable care. If you get in an accident and seriously injured abroad, you need to know if your expenses are covered (particularly in the USA where medical costs can be huge) and that they’ll help fly you home if you’re not able to keep travelling.
Sporting injuries. We wouldn’t dream of doubting your skills. But don’t hike up Table Mountain or bungee jump in New Zealand before checking if your policy covers it and if you’ll be helicoptered to hospital if you break a leg.
Contents insurance. If you don’t like having thumbprints on the lens of that fancy camera, imagine how you’ll feel if it gets snatched out of your hands on your tour of Europe. Check whether your travel insurance policy covers all your gadgets or if you need to take out extra cover for more expensive gear. Many policies also have conditions that apply to high value items so be aware of any exclusions that might apply.
Delay and cancellation. If the departures board is awash with cancellations, at least you might be able to spend your extended holiday in the airport with some of your expenses covered by your travel insurance.
Make sure you compare insurance plans to get the right policy for you, whether you’re a carefree student, trekking across Canada with your family, or relaxing on a cruise. And think about how often you travel: do you need annual multi trip insurance for your mini-break addiction or single trip insurance for a one-off jaunt? If you’ve finally taken the plunge for a gap year or career break, look out for backpacker and long-stay travel insurance.
At Lonely Planet, we want you to travel far and wide with the knowledge that someone will catch you if you fall. So get started with a quote for travel insurance and carefully read the policy to make sure it suits you.