Traveling abroad requires planning, packing, and travel insurance. Sure, it isn't as exciting as getting a new camera, safari gear, or even buying flights. But choosing the best international travel insurance means that an unexpected hiccup doesn't become anything more.
3 Best International Travel Insurance Options
The wind is in your hair. The harness is around your chest. You're ready to go parachuting over the glittering seas of Bora Bora, but before you jump off the plane, make sure that you have good international travel insurance!
If you're considering getting international coverage for flights, hotels, tours, and safaris, here are just a few things to keep in mind as you look.
3 Best Travel Insurance Options for Outdoor Adventurers
- World Nomads: We've traveled with World Nomads coverage on every trip we've taken in the last 9 years. The policy and coverage are super easy to understand, it's easy to extend coverage, and it is affordable.
- Atlas Travel Insurance (HCCMIS): This is a flexible policy, covering residents of 180+ countries. A good option to check before purchasing.
- SafetyWing: This is a popular option for longer term travelers (like digital nomads) but is also a good option for shorter term travel as short as 5 days. Works on a subscription model – and is renewable while you travel.
What is travel insurance?
Travel insurance protects you while you're abroad. Depending on the policy that you choose, it can cover everything from lost luggage to an emergency evacuation because of natural disasters or political unrest.
When should you buy travel insurance?
Some people may not need to purchase extra travel insurance if (for example) you already have a comprehensive health insurance policy, it might have provisions in place for international travel.
Or if your favorite airline or credit card has a loyalty program, it might protect you from delayed, canceled or overbooked flights.
Before purchasing travel insurance, sit down and make a list of the things that you want to be safeguarded against, and cross-reference that with the contracts and policies that you're already receiving from other companies.
If you're protected more than you thought, that's great! If you need a little more coverage than what you're getting – keep reading.
How to choose your travel insurance policy? 8 Factors
It's completely normal to be adrift in a sea of insurance options. Here are just a few things to consider when narrowing down your list.
1. Medical coverage limit, including Emergency Evacuation
If you're injured during your trip, you'll need medical coverage insurance to pay for things like casts, crutches, medications, surgeries, and hospital stays. Even if you don't speak the language, your insurance policy can do the talking for you.
A medical coverage limit refers to the amount that the insurer will pay before you hit the limits of your coverage. These limits can range from $10,000 to $1,000,000, so you'll need to decide for yourself which seems the most appropriate for your travel plans.
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You might also want to check that your medical coverage includes something called emergency evacuation. It will be applied towards serious emergency costs like being airlifted out of the country during a life-or-death situation.
2. Possessions: Lost / damaged / stolen gear
Maybe you're packing your best gear for a snowboarding competition in the Swiss Alps.
Maybe you want to protect your expensive camera lenses as you go birdwatching in the African savanna. Regardless of what's inside of your luggage, you'll need to insure it before you go. You never know what will get broken, misplaced or outright stolen when you're abroad.
3. Preexisting conditions waiver
It might be difficult to find medical travel insurance coverage if you have preexisting conditions.
The good news is that certain companies are willing to make exceptions. They'll cover you with something called a “preexisting conditions waiver” as long as you meet their requirements.
Generally speaking, you'll need to be in good health at the time of booking of your trip, and you'll need to apply for travel insurance within a certain window of that booking.
You'll also need to disclose all of your preexisting conditions so that nothing is a surprise for the insurance company if things flare up while you're overseas.
4. Age limitations
Are you a retiree with plans to see the world now that you're free from your cubicle? Are you an adventurer looking to share your love of foreign cultures with your kids?
Check the age limitations for seniors and children before you apply for travel insurance.
5. Weather coverage
There are many, many ways that bad weather can affect your international trip. Here are just a few examples:
- There's a typhoon in Malaysia, and your resort has become so flooded that it's uninhabitable.
- Strong winds and rains have delayed your flight to Tokyo so much that you'll miss your connecting flight in Shanghai as well.
- Mont Blac had an unusually warm winter, and you aren't that excited at the watery slopes that you're seeing in pictures.
With the right kind of travel insurance, these annoyances don't have to completely ruin your trip.
You can simply rearrange your flight plan or find new accommodation. Without travel insurance, however, you're looking at all kinds of charges, delays, cancellations, and headaches.
6. Trip Cancellation
Speaking of cancellations, if you need to call off your trip before your departure date, that's called a trip cancellation.
A good travel insurance policy will make sure that you're refunded 100 percent of the cost of your trip even if a sudden work commitment keeps you from traveling as you'd wanted.
7. Trip Interruption
If you need to cut your vacation short when you're already abroad, that's called a trip interruption rather than a trip cancellation.
For example, if you're swimming with the sharks in Hawaii when you get the news that someone at home has fallen seriously ill, you'll need travel insurance to recoup the losses of the flights and hotels that you had planned before you raced home.
8. Trip Delay
Trip delays are when unexpected events put you behind schedule. Some insurers will cover these costs even if it was your own carelessness that caused you to miss a flight or lose your passport; others will only cover the costs in no-fault circumstances.
What isn't covered by (most) travel insurance?
If you're a hiker, climber, camper or general adventurer, one of the most important things to know about travel insurance is that it doesn't usually cover accidents and injuries that result from high-risk activities.
You'll need to look for special brands of travel insurance that are designed for things like extreme sports.
Choosing the Right International Travel Insurance
You might like the thrill of white water rafting down the Amazon River, but one risk that you shouldn't take is the risk of choosing poor travel insurance.
Do your homework and explore your options so you can figure out which policy will protect you during all of your favorite adrenaline rushes!
Bryan Haines is a co-founder and blogger on GudGear – and is working to make it the best resource for outside gear. He is a travel blogger at Storyteller.Travel and photographer at Click Like This. He is also co-founder of Storyteller Media, a company he started with his wife, Dena.