For me, as a person living in the US – the word “Insurance” elicits an immediate negative reaction. In my experience, insurance companies are in general a true pain to deal with. SO naturally, I was NOT excited to figure this out.
WHAT KIND TO CONSIDER
The travel insurance can mean a few things, usually when you google “Travel Insurance” what comes up are options that are for single-trip / shorter travel. Be sure that the options you are looking at are the equivalent of Backpacker Insurance (aka Long Stay / Gap Year Insurance / extended travel medical insurance) that covers things that concern the trip as well as medical needs. That is if you are looking for coverage for your extended RTW trip
Moneysupermarket.com describes it as:
Backpackers travel insurance covers travellers to be away for one extended trip, typically lasting for 12 months. Backpackers insurance is different to annual (or ‘multi-trip’) travel insurance because, whilst the latter also provides cover for a whole 12 months, it imposes a cap on the length of each individual trip, usually of between 30 and 60 days.
So if you are off around the world with your backpack, and returning within a year, backpackers travel insurance is likely to be the policy for you.
With so many options out there it gets dizzying real fast – especially since with most companies – the difference in the policies are marginal.
Check out this article on Backpacker Insurance to understand why you’ll need it: http://www.travelinsurancereview.net/backpacker-travel-insurance/
MoneySupermarket has this guide for the minimum you should look for (sorry, its in British £)
Medical expenses – Medical cover should be around £2million. This should also cover the cost of emergency repatriation.
Personal liability – Cover for personal liability should amount to around £1million.
Cancellation Cover – Cancellation cover should be either £3000 or enough to cover the total cost of your holiday, including the cost of any prepaid excursions.
Baggage Cover – Minimum level of baggage and possessions cover should be £1500. If you do have single items that are of a high value, advise your insurer so they can be factored into your cover.
Holiday Money – Minimum cover will usually allow for £250 worth of cash, if you plan to carry more with you ensure your policy reflects that.
But I’ve found that for the companies covering US residents, the numbers are quite different. Travel Insurance Review has this article on selecting a plan.
AHHH TOO MANY CHOICES! MY SEARCH STRATEGY
Its a very daunting task to really entertain all the options & compare quotes since each plan has such different coverages, but my plan was to gather all the recommended sites, get quotes from all of them, then from those – pick the top ones to really compare side by side.
What I needed to consider for my insurance:
1. Extended coverage – (I need coverage for multiple countries over the course of 1 year.)
2. Cost – yes, I want to be safe but shelling out $5000 for insurance when my income is limited is not an option.
3. REAL coverage – I needed to look at the fine print to see what they mean by medical coverage and look up reviews to see if people have had a hard time claiming. Often times, they require you to jump through so many hoops to get treated that its not even worth it. I want a travel insurance company that I can call in the event of an accident, so they can direct me to the nearest medical facility, and take care of the costs instead of having to shell out hundreds of dollars with the minor chance of being reimbursed.
4. Hazardous Sports coverage – I am planning on rafting, diving, climbing, skydiving, bungee jumping, and pretty much taking on any cool activity that comes my way in my RTW trip. IF i get injured from any of these, I want to make sure that I am covered. This is non-negotiable for me.
5. Trip Delay / Trip Interruption – Being that even just our Central / South America portion of our RTW trip contains 16 flight legs and a bus transfer (so far, not including local flights within each country), missing connecting flights isa HUGE possibility and I want to make sure I am covered for that.
6. Baggage cover – I will be traveling with some expensive electronics and most plans have minimal baggage coverage but if I get one that is minimal, I will make sure to document those items to get the maximum benefit should something happen to them.
7. Car Rental Collision coverage – I need a flexible car rental coverage that isn’t specific to a particular rental since I dont know where / when I will be renting and insurance when bought from the car rental company is usually obscenely expensive and necessary.
Of course all the other things are important too, but this is the stuff that is important for MY purposes. I suggest reading the links I’ve provided below to really educate yourself on your needs.
I went through the plans mentioned on a few recommendation sites, including ones recommended by Fancy Hands and below are my findings:
When I look at what is covered – it looks pretty great, it covers a whole bunch of activities – the detailed “Explorer” coverage is here: http://www.worldnomads.com/files/DocPDF/20111001/Explorer_CA.pdf
When I priced my trip out (as a couple for 12 months)
Standard: $1,826 USD
Explorer: $2,423.56 USD
Unfortunately for me – Moneysupermarket only offers those insurance plans for GB residents so I don’t qualify. blah.
Global Traveler: $1,370.00 for all travelers ($685 / pp)
Global Traveler Medical: $2,249.65 ($1,124.83 / pp)
but they seem to have a secondary insurance clause of some sort
has a great system that lets you choose features. I chose “Primary Medical” (since this will be the only insurance I have while traveling) and “Hazardous Sports” (since I plan on doing things like bungee jumping & hanggliding etc)
My quote for 2 ppl: $4,815.00 (by Travel Guard, Chartis – plan called Great Outdoors)
(For this option, seems my age mattered – cost me – 26 years old $798.26 and my boyfriend who is 31 $1,059.41) – this also has the hazardous sports option added on.
Covers med expenses up to $500,000 and has good basic coverage
For this option, age didn’t matter $1,680.00 / pp, but it didn’t have the sports option, nor the lost baggage coverage
Covers med expenses up to $1,000,000 and has good basic coverage
Neither has trip cancellation coverage.
Has a multitude of choices. The “package” insurance plans vary from $2652 – $8622 for two people. With plans from Allianz, Travel Guard by Chartis, John Hancock, and CSA
Total Travel Insurance –
Didn’t really have very many options for me to view that was comprehensive. Not even worth looking at really, since its only very basic coverage for extreme emergencies only.
Medical insurance for people traveling outside their home country.
Cost varied as seen below:
Great Outdoors – $4,976.20
After a grueling couple of weeks of printing out full terms, comparing coverage, reading various blogs & analysis given by different sites, quotes & requotings, I decided upon the following:
My Central & South America trip is booked via AirTreks – they have a deal w/ Travel Guard Chartis where coverage is included in my airfare – and can be upgraded to deluxe coverage (which is essentially the same but with some higher $ coverage on certain things & Trip Cancellation coverage) for $316 / pp (AMAZING btw, good job AirTreks.)
But for my particular needs (outlined above) – the best fit seems to be the World Nomads insurance. However, there are some complaints online about their claims process, which worries me.
So I decided to purchase a 3 month insurance w/ World Nomads, and if at the end of my Central / South America leg, I decide that they are good, I will extend. If for any reason I submit a claim and am unhappy with them, I’ll go ahead and go with one of Travel Guard Chartis’ plans, which is more expensive but has marginally better coverage and better reviews.
My quote for 2 ppl – 3 months on World Nomads: $500.84
Thats about $250 pp / @ $83 per month
And after that an additional $1861 for 10 months of coverage ($93 per month / person)
Not sure why but with worldnomads, the longer the trip / coverage, the more expensive it gets (a quote for the whole year comes out to about $100 pp /month)
Hopefully, this article helps you guys save some time.
And please, do NOT go on your trip without travel insurance. I’ve traveled enough in my life to know that saving a few bucks up front is just NOT WORTH IT if you plan on traveling. Buy a good insurance, rest easy, and know you wont get stuck w/ a $50,000 bill at the end of your trip.