The Ultimate Guide to Getting Travel Insurance

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Travel Insurance
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If a terrible tale from the road has never personally affected you, chances are good you’ve heard a few secondhand stories that give you nightmares in the days or weeks leading up to a trip of your own.

I’ve been alone and sickly ill with a deadly parasite in my stomach in the middle of Cartagena, Colombia with 36 hours and another plane flight to go before returning stateside. I’ve been stopped — and yelled at in a language I don’t speak — by a shady motorcycle cop while riding in the back of a taxi in a super sketchy part of Lima, Peru, not knowing if I’d ever make it back alive. I’ve had my anterior talofibular ligament detach from my ankle during a snowstorm in Boston, leaving me in need of surgical repair.

And I’ve been on plenty of trips properly equipped with adamant travel insurance when absolutely nothing bad happened. That’s the thing. Life can be a complete crapshoot. But getting travel insurance can prepare you, and swindle the odds in your favor, for any crazy thing that’s thrown your way.

So whether you’re a traveler who brings a laptop, GoPro, DSLR camera, expensive headphones, jewelry and an electronic reading device, or you travel on the lighter side with just your phone, passport and backpack, this is everything you need to know about travel insurance so you and your belongings are always protected!

In my honest opinion (putting affiliate commissions aside to bring the best experience), I like Travel Guard travel insurance in many instances because it’s cheaper. World Nomads is going to be a bit more expensive, but it does provide more coverage in certain areas than Travel Guard does.

But if you’re looking for the best travel insurance at the best cost, you have to check out It’s a travel insurance marketplace that compares policies and provides you with the most affordable quote out there! I got a policy for two people for five days in Belize for $28 total. You just can’t beat that!

If you’re looking to get adamant coverage (and maybe more than you need) or your home country is not the United States, World Nomads travel insurance is what you’re looking for. World Nomads provides travel insurance to residents of many countries!

But, if you’re looking to get the best shear price and you’re from the United States, Travel Guard is going to be your best best (Travel Guard is currently only offered to residents of the U.S.). But keep reading because the decision isn’t that easy!

What Does Travel Insurance Cover?

Travel insurance covers a multitude of things that can happen to you while traveling in your home country or abroad. Yes, travel insurance can typically kick in when you’re at least 100 miles from your residence.

So a week-long trip across the state to check out the beach, mountains or just the downtown area of that cool city you’ve been yearning to check out are all covered!

The following four categories are the most common claims for coverage that your travel insurance will likely step in and pick up the bill for you!

1. Medical & Dental Expenses

If you get injured or come down with an illness on your trip, travel insurance can help pay for any expenses relating to the injury or illness. In order to be covered for expenses, you’ll likely have to receive treatment right away in the country it occurred in.

It’s crazy, but the dental coverage in travel insurance policies is oftentimes better than any dental insurance I’ve ever had in the states. So if you’re playing hockey without a cage in an icy wonderland, you may want to opt for travel insurance.

Medical coverage typically begins at $15,000 and extends to $100,000-plus per incident. So if you’re a long-term traveler and incur two separate injuries or illnesses while you have the same travel insurance policy, each incident has the $15,000 to $100,000-plus maximum payout.

2. Emergency Evacuation

If your injury or illness requires you to be taken to the hospital by ambulance, helicopter or some other foreign method I’m unaware of, your travel insurance policy will kick in and pay for the transportation.

If you don’t have coverage, a single emergency helicopter ride could seriously hurt your wallet for years to come. In the United States, the average air ambulance costs between $12,000 and $25,000 USD. There have been horror stories of families being hit with $50,000-plus bills, too.

Travel insurance typically covers anywhere from $150,000 to $1 million for emergency evacuation. Just another reason to opt for travel insurance.

3. Trip Cancellation, Interruption or Delay

Let’s assume you have this amazing trip planned and you’ve been counting down the days until you leave. Well, what happens if an unforeseen illness, natural disaster, inclement weather or delay causes you to miss out on a part or the entire length of your trip?

You could be stuck paying for flights, hotels, rental cars, excursions or anything else related to that trip — without even being able to go. Unless you have travel insurance!

Travel insurance can help recover and reimburse those expenses for you. This is where I really like Travel Guard over World Nomads, because Travel Guard pays you anywhere from 100 percent to 150 percent of your trip expenses! Yup, you could actually have money left over to help out with any unforeseen costs related to the cancellation, interruption or delay!

There are different qualifications for each category, so be sure to check with the travel insurance provider when you purchase your policy. Trip delay usually pays the lowest amount and has a per-day amount cap.

4. Stolen, Lost or Damaged Personal Belongings

If your laptop, phone, GoPro, passport or clothes are stolen while you’re traveling, you could be stuck paying to replace those essential items yourself. But if you have a travel insurance policy, they could pick up the tab to replace them for you!

It’s all too common to be sitting around a bar or firepit, exchanging tales and then listening to a few horror stories of someone who knew someone who had something stolen from them, damaged or randomly lost something while traveling.

They either decided to forgo travel insurance before leaving home and were shit out of luck or they were covered and singing sweet victory songs when the claim came through and the insurance company paid to replace their baggage, personal belongings or travel documents.

If you don’t want to be trapped in the first scenario, I highly suggest investing in travel insurance so life doesn’t get a chance to screw you over. Travel insurance typically covers anywhere from $750 to $3,000 to replace your things, depending on what type of policy you purchase.

If any of your belongings are stolen, it’s important to file a police report immediately to identify the items that were taken.

If your items were taken from your accommodation and don’t have time to file a police report because you need to catch a plane, train, bus or another form of transportation, contact the front desk or home-sharing host to tell them about what happened. The insurance company will use them as a reference and it will be easier to get paid for your claim.

What Does Travel Insurance Not Cover?

While travel insurance can be the saving grace that gets you out of one of life’s tight binds, it’s not an all-inclusive policy that covers everything under the sun. There are a few key things travel insurance typically doesn’t cover.

Here are a few things that are generally not covered by a travel insurance policy:

  1. Pre-existing medical conditions requiring special care.
  2. Cancellations or switching plans due to something within your control, such as changing your mind.
  3. Weather conditions forcing you to cancel an excursion or something to that nature.
  4. Injuries sustained from high-risk sports like skydiving, scuba diving or another extreme sport. (Check out your unique policy and seek out additional coverage if you plan to partake in one of these awesome activities!)

I highly recommend reading through the policy before you purchase it to make sure you’re getting everything covered that you need to be covered!

How Does Travel Insurance Work?

Travel insurance works by reimbursing you for your losses after you’ve filed a claim and it has been approved. It works similar to other kinds of insurance by sending you a check in the mail or directly depositing the money into your bank account when it has been approved.

If you suffered an injury that needed medical attention while traveling and racked up $3,000 in expenses, you’ll file a travel insurance claim and they’ll pay you up to that $3,000. You can then use the money to pay off your bills.

If your phone (worth $800) is stolen while traveling abroad, you file a claim immediately. The travel insurance company will oftentimes deposit the full $800 into your bank account within 24 hours so you can buy a new one.

Depending on the severity of the issue and how much information is submitted with the claim, travel insurance can take anywhere from 24 hours to a few weeks to pay a claim. For medical claims requiring a lot of work, it may take a little longer.

So the short version is that you purchase travel insurance, file a claim with the required supporting documents and the insurance company pays you for your losses or expenses.

Do I Need Travel Insurance?

You don’t technically need travel insurance when you’re on vacation or visiting another country, even another state or even another city. It’s not a requirement. Nobody’s gonna check your travel insurance at the border and stamp it like a passport.

But the thing about travel insurance is that you never know when you’ll need it until you actually need it. And if you need it and don’t have it, it’s already too late. You’re probably up shit’s creek without a paddle, racking up exponential medical bills in a foreign country, paying full price for a trip you can’t even take, returning home without your most valuable possessions or — even worse — stuck in a foreign country without a passport and money because they were stolen.

Catch my drift? Is the importance of travel insurance sinking in yet?

Should I Get Travel Insurance?

Yes! YEs!! YES!!! You should definitely get travel insurance if you’re traveling to another country! And, if you’re traveling within your own country, check out your health insurance policy to see if you’re covered nationwide.

If you have a cut-rate health insurance policy in the United States (most of us do), you may be surprised to find out your in-network coverage extends to your state’s borders before it dissipates into thin air.

That’s how they get you. You could be stuck paying up to 75 percent or more of your medical expenses if you’re traveling within the United States with your employer-issued health insurance. That’s because it costs your company a lot more money to get a policy with nationwide coverage.

It’s always important to check out your policy before traveling, and it’s important noting that many travel insurance policies kick in when you’re more than 100 miles from your home.

Is Travel Insurance Worth It?

YES!!! Travel insurance is well worth the investment. In fact, that travel insurance policy you bought is worth its weight in gold.

I use the term “investment” because purchasing travel insurance is like investing in your future. It helps you be as prepared as possible for those unknown curveballs life throws your way — like the three in the second paragraph that happened to me.

What’s the Difference Among Travel Insurance, Vacation Insurance & Trip Insurance?

You’ll be pleased to know that travel insurance, vacation insurance and trip insurance are typically all the same thing. Like caramel and caramel (I bet you read those two differently!), people just refer to them with different names.

The only exception is trip insurance, which can be purchased directly through airline carriers when purchasing your flight. This coverage is specifically for your flight and doesn’t extend to anything else, such as medical expenses or personal belongings.

See the value in purchasing travel insurance from Travel Guard or World Nomads? Yup, they can help you hit a home run when life throws a curveball your way. Plus, you can easily compare policies online through their easy-to-use portals!


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