Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

Is travel insurance worth it? It's the one thing that most people choose not to travel with, but is that a smart idea?
Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

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When I first started traveling, I was at odds with myself. I would always ask myself the same question: “Is travel insurance worth it? I mean, nothing is going to happen, right?”

It’s especially hard because when you’ve just spent so much money on your travels themselves, it almost feels like a waste to part with yet another chunk of cash for something I might not even need.

Years ago, I didn’t bother buying traveling insurance. Now, after a decade of traveling, I won’t travel without it.

While it might feel like an annoying expense, trust me—travel insurance is worth it.

My $8,000 surgery in Singapore? Covered.

Another $7,000 worth of hospital visits in Bangkok? Covered.

I’ve heard stories of broken legs, broken backs, helicopter evacuations, near-death drownings…you name it, it’s happened. Not to mention all the flight delays, lost luggage and stolen smartphones.

And, at the risk of sounding far-fetched and cliché, these things do happen to people like you and me.

Koh Phangan, Thailand
Koh Phangan, Thailand

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

You should always do your due diligence when choosing the best travel insurance.

It’s also worth noting that travel insurance is not only health insurance. Travel insurance covers your trip itself and it also covers medical expenses, should you be unfortunate enough to have them.

So is travel insurance worth it? Let’s take a look at exactly what you will be paying for if you decide to buy travel insurance.

  • Trip Cancellation or Interruption:  Should your journey be canceled or delayed because you get sick, or if there’s a hurricane or any type of personal or worldly catastrophe, your insurance company will reimburse you for everything. But remember—you have to buy your insurance before the trip gets canceled.
  • Lost or Damaged Baggage and Belongings:  If your bags get lost or stolen, your travel insurance will pay to replace your items.
  • Medical Emergencies and Death: The ideal scenario is that you don’t get hurt, dismembered or killed while traveling. But just in case you do, your travel insurance will cover the medical bills (or repatriate your body in the case of death—but let’s not go there).
Hiking Cradle Mountain in Tasmania

Of course, it’s not likely or ideal that you get hurt on your trip, but if you do and you aren’t covered by a decent insurance policy, you could face medical or repatriation costs that run up into the hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars (seriously).

An air ambulance from the United States to the UK will cost you around $50,000 if you don’t have insurance.

Suddenly those the couple hundred dollars you spent on travel insurance seems a lot more attractive, doesn’t it?

Nobody wants to be “that guy” who makes a panicked phone call to their parents telling them they need $50,000 for hospital bills and an air ambulance across the ocean.

Similarly, when you cover yourself with travel insurance, you could save yourself from losing thousands of dollars if your trip is unexpectedly canceled.

The only thing worse than your travel plans getting ruined is losing all the money you spent on it!

If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.

—Some wise man or woman

How Much Does it Cost?

Travel insurance doesn’t cost as much as you probably think it does. Obviously, it depends on who you buy insurance with (and what, exactly, it covers), but it’s a small price to pay for a safe trip abroad.

I bought a comprehensive travel insurance policy from World Nomads for an entire year of traveling in Asia for somewhere around $450.

At first, $450 might seem like an eye-watering price to pay, but in reality, it’s just over a dollar a day. My health (and peace of mind) is well worth that.

The Bay of Fires
The Bay of Fires

The policy I chose covered:

  • Up to $10 million in medical expenses.
  • $200 towards replacing necessities in delayed baggage.
  • $5,000 of cancellation reimbursements.
  • $1,500 for trip interruptions – so that you can continue your trip if an emergency happens and you have to go home.
  • $25,000 payout for personal accidents.
  • $500 for loss or theft of money.
  • $600 to replace lost or stolen travel documents and to cover expenses of travel or accommodation you need in the process.

As you can see, I had myself pretty much covered from every angle.

No, handing over a couple hundo isn’t my favorite activity in the world. It is, however, in every way, preferable to spending 10 or 100 times that amount because I got hurt or because my laptop was stolen.

How Do You Choose Travel Insurance?

There are literally hundreds of insurance companies that will offer you every type of policy under the sun. This can make choosing the right travel insurance quite tough. You want to make sure it’s comprehensive but you also don’t want to pay through the roof for it!

I have long been a fan of World Nomads because they cover virtually everything and have a good reputation for paying out claims. I can personally attest to that.

The average traveler primarily wants to look for comprehensive medical coverage. That said, I travel with expensive camera gear and electronics, so I need coverage for my belongings, too.

I normally opt for a policy that will pay for medical expenses up to $5,000,000, including repatriation costs. The more you can get on this front the better. Bear in mind that if you are buying travel insurance for high-risk destinations or activities, your premium is likely to be a bit higher.

With World Nomads, I’ve found the price difference to be negligible.

Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand
Hiking the Franz Josef Glacier in New Zealand

So, Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

This will be the least exciting part of your travel plans and you may even shed a tear when you buy that policy. But trust me when I say that travel insurance is definitely worth it.

When you travel, the unexpected happens. That’s the whole point of travel! Unexpected things can’t be expected (obviously), and there’s a reason they call it an accident…

Though it may sound obnoxious to say, I honestly believe that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel.

Travel Insurance FAQs

Is theft covered under travel insurance?

If your policy includes lost baggage protection, then you are covered. Your insurance policy covered your belongings from the second you depart for your trip onward. There is usually a reimbursement maximum. So check your provider’s maximum policy coverage.

Does travel insurance cover laptop theft?

While most policies cover theft, there is usually a reimbursement limit for specific items. This per-item maximum limit might not cover the original cost of your laptop. In short, you’ll get back the most money possible, but it might not cover all of the damage done.

Does travel insurance cover accidental damage?

Accidental damage is usually covered by your lost luggage protection, even if that damage was done by you. However, you will still only get reimbursed the maximum per item amount.

Are personal belongings covered under travel insurance?

Yes, your lost luggage policy will cover lost or damaged personal belongings. The providers mentioned above offer some of the best baggage insurance available. As soon as you have departed for your trip, you’re covered in case any items are stolen, lost or broken along the way.

Is stolen money covered under travel insurance?

This depends on your insurance provider as well as your insurance policy. While you might receive a certain amount back, it’s likely not going to be very high. Also, keep in mind that most top travel insurance providers probably won’t reimburse money that was lost or stolen through negligence. You need to have an adequate reason in order to claim stolen or lost cash.

Is a stolen wallet covered under travel insurance?

You may or may not be covered for the cash stolen in the wallet, but the wallet itself is covered under your lost luggage policy. In other words, your actual belongings will be covered, but not necessarily the money inside them.

Does travel insurance cover stolen luggage?

Yes, travel insurance covers stolen luggage if you have a lost luggage policy. Depending on your policy, you may be reimbursed anywhere from $50 per bag to $1,000 for all your personal belongings.

Does travel insurance cover damaged luggage?

Just like stolen luggage, travel insurance should cover any damage to your luggage or property. Damaged luggage is often categorized as lost baggage in your policy.

Is a lost phone covered under travel insurance?

Some policies include lost phone protection, some don’t. If your policy does cover lost phones, it still may be subject to the per item maximum limit.

Are cameras covered under travel insurance?

If you damage or lose your camera equipment, your lost baggage and also your personal belonging coverage will kick in. If you are traveling with high-end or expensive camera equipment, then it might be worth your while to purchase separate gadget insurance with InsureMyEquipment.

Whether or not you have camera insurance for your travels, I recommend getting a high quality camera backpack to help keep your equipment safe.

How long do travel insurance claims take?

Depending on your company, getting reimbursed can happen anywhere from 5 business days to several weeks. In order to prevent any delays, make sure you submit as much documentation and also information as possible with the claim.

How long do you have to make a travel insurance claim?

The timeframe to submit a travel insurance claim varies depending on your travel insurance provider. The average window is between 10 and 60 days. You should always submit your claim as early as possible in order to avoid any hassles.

Can you fly without travel insurance?

Of course; you’re free to travel anywhere in the world without travel insurance. However, travel insurance will protect you in all situations whether you’re staying in the country or traveling abroad.

While you might not need emergency medical coverage when traveling domestically, you should still consider a policy that covers lost or stolen property. If you choose to forgo travel insurance when traveling, remember that you will need to pay any fees, bills or incurred costs directly out of pocket.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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3 Responses

  1. its totally worth it, only not worth it when you over spend on it. I think its important to get a travel insurance plan before you travel, but avoid to over spending, because there is so many providers in the market with different type of plan and prices, so usually people who get their travel insurance plan in the last minute, they will not being able to find the good price one, in those cases is good to try some of the online comparing tools which allow you to compare between the plans and let you review them to choose the suitable plan for you.

  2. On a recent trip to Italy I debated getting accident insurance. Then I had to decide to get the rental car rider. So I got the accident insurance but not the car. Sure enough, got rear ended in Austria. 1000$ of damage. Not covered. Next time, I’ll get the car covered. Not worth the risk.

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