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Travel Insurance Essentials: Why every traveller needs it

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riding the vespas

Travel Insurance essentials

Travel Insurance.  Two words that can make such a difference to your trip, holiday or vacation. At the most basic level, it could cover your loss of luggage, travel delays or stolen property.  At the other end of the spectrum lie any number of unfortunate issues that can cause serious injury or illness.  Once medical or emergency action or medical repatriation is required, the cost involves skyrockets.

The tried and true saying of “if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel” has never been more critical with world events, both of a social and environmental nature on the rise.  However, travelling has always involved the unknown, the things you can’t control and as such travel insurance is the most important item you can take with you, other than your passport and money.

The importance of travel insurance

I regularly hear people say “I’m not going far” or “I’m just going to visit family” or “I’m getting a cheap flight, the insurance is more than the ticket”.  I can add many more to this.  One of my favourites is “I’ve been travelling for years, I’ve never needed it”.   The problem with this line of thinking is that whatever the reason used to justify not buying it, won’t be worth anything when those factors outside your control come to bear. 

You can’t possibly foresee someone stealing a valuable piece of equipment from you or getting knocked over by someone riding a scooter as you cross a busy street, or having an accident in your hire car.  Nor can you predict your airline losing your luggage for a few days or a week, or having it so badly damaged it can’t be re-used.  How about getting very sick on a cruise ship in the middle of the ocean, where you are days away from land? Or that skiing accident that breaks a number of bones in your leg whilst on vacation in the US, a country that has notoriously high medical costs. 

There are so many possible circumstances, they can’t all be noted here.  At the worst end of the spectrum are those travellers who have had to make emergency dashes back home to see loved ones, or worse, having to bring them home following a fatal accident.

There is a current trend of using Go Fund Me to set up donation pages for people who have run into serious trouble when overseas and haven’t had insurance.  Their families have been left to pick up the pieces, and the financial cost that could have been prevented with a simple purchase of a travel insurance policy.  A recent survey conducted in Australia also found that 50% of travellers under the age of 30 thought that the government would pay to get them home in the event of an emergency. [Source: Quantum Market Research 2016-2017]

travel insurance statistics aust uk usa

Types of travel insurance

This will differ by country and provider.  Single trip policies are the most common type, anywhere in the world.  For frequent travellers, it makes much more sense to buy annual travel insurance or multi-trip travel insurance.  There are comprehensive plans and others that single out specific types of cover, like medical.  Some will offer basic cover, without any frills and with lower claim limits and medical coverage.

Some policies are paid for upfront, in one block, whilst others can be bought in a more continual, “add-on” fashion.

Note:  There are usually some restrictions on multi-trip policies with respect to travel duration.  For example, my annual policy allows me and my husband to travel as often as we like.  However, leisure trips are only covered for up to 38 days.  For business, it is 90 days.

Choosing the correct travel insurance 

  1. Buy travel insurance. 
  2. Don’t just buy the cheapest travel insurance.  Compare costs with coverage to choose the right cover for you.
  3. Check the limits for all insured items to ensure you have enough coverage.  Increase the limit if appropriate for relevant items (eg car hire, valuables)
  4. Look at who the underwriter of the insurance company is and make sure they are reputable.  
  5. Does the insurance company offer a 24/7  emergency service?
  6. Which countries are you covered for?  Some providers have a different cover for different world regions and countries.
  7. Buy cover for exactly what you think you will need.  It’s better to have more cover than not enough.  
  8. Read the Product Disclosure Statement (PDS).  Yes, this is the boring, small print that feels like it’s deliberately made hard to read.  But, outside of having travel insurance, it’s the next most important thing.  This is the bible.  Whatever is contained in here is what you can and can’t claim.  It will tell you the type of behaviour that will see your claim voided and also what you need to do in the event of a claim.  Read it, understand it, and remember as much as you can.  It will help the moment you need it.
  9. Make sure the cover is flexible.  Can you change the dates?  Can you add more coverage even when you are travelling?  Can you make changes online whilst you are away?
  10. What are the excess options?  Reducing your excess raises the premium.  Many policies have a zero, $100 and $200 basic excess but this will vary by provider.
  11. Can you make claims online?
  12. Going skiing or snowboarding?  Check that the policy covers you.  Most policies have these and other adventure activities as extras.
  13. If you are travelling on an ocean ship, many policies don’t include standard coverage for ocean travel.  Ensure you have specific cruise travel insurance.
  14. Carrying a lot of valuable equipment? Check the limits and increase the coverage if necessary.
  15. Hiring a vehicle?  Check the excess conditions of your hiring company and make sure you have coverage on your policy.  This is an extra that can usually be increased.
  16. Got a pre-existing illness?  Read the terms of each potential insurer carefully.
  17. Does the insurer give safety alerts?  Many insurers offer this service via email or app.
  18. Check the insurance company will cover the ages of those wanting to be insured.

Note: Your home country medical plan (eg NHS, Medicare) may offer some reciprocal rights in some countries, in some situations but it should not be considered to be travel insurance.  Similarly, any private health insurance should be treated the same.  They are not established to provide comprehensive travel coverage.

Read all the inclusions and exclusions of the policy and ensure it covers exactly what you need and the activities you will be doing.

Where can I buy travel insurance?

Most of the travel insurance bought today is purchased online where quotes can be obtained quickly and easily.  Travel insurance can also be purchased directly from the provider or via a travel agent.  Travel insurance is also possible via a credit card provider.

As frequent travellers, we purchase an annual policy each year which covers us for international and domestic travel.  We use Travel Insurance Direct (TID) who provide coverage for Australians.  We have been using TID for many years, without issue.  We have had to claim on several occasions during this time.  The process for claiming is simple, they have always been fair in their judgements (we always do the right thing!) and they pay quickly.  It is underwritten by Australian company, XL Insurance.

You can get a quote or buy insurance from Travel Insurance Direct here.

If you are more of a nomadic traveller, World Nomads has established itself in the market as the provider of insurance for more transient people and those who love adventure activities (150+ activities are covered).  World Nomads are underwritten by Lloyds.  It is available for purchase to residents in 140 countries.

You can get a quote or buy insurance from World Nomads here.

SafetyWing also offers travel medical insurance for digital nomads and freelancers.  It’s insurance with a difference as they are also offering packages that include such things as a pension.  It is underwritten by Tokio Marine, one of the largest insurance companies in the world.  It may be purchased in 180 countries and support is available 24/7.  Prices start at $37USD for four weeks.

You can get a quote or buy insurance from SafetyWing here.

When should you buy travel insurance?

The moment you pay for the first travel-related item for your trip.  Usually, this will be flights, paying a deposit for an ocean, river or barge cruise or hiring a car.  This is usually the biggest mistake people make.  Many people think that travel insurance only covers you for the time you are actually travelling.  This is true for many parts of the insurance coverage.  However, there are also events that can impact your travel plans, well prior to you actually taking off.  For example, illness can strike before you leave, or there might be significant health issues with a member of your family.  There are many possibilities that can fall into this category.

The best advice I can give with regard to travel insurance is to buy it straight away.  The moment you have outlaid your hard-earned funds is the moment they are at risk.  Whilst the travel insurance policy doesn’t effectively start until the date you have nominated in the future, the coverage for pre-trip issues starts from the moment you pay for your policy.  It’s a small fact that often goes unrealised.

Is credit card insurance acceptable?

Many credit card companies offer “complimentary” travel insurance.  Whilst this is obviously from a reputable provider, it is usually not comprehensive coverage.  It will apply when you purchase a qualifying item on the relevant credit card eg flights.  Some will have an amount that must be spent on travel-related services.  This is one policy where you need to read it all carefully if you are planning on having this as your only cover.  Some banks/credit card providers require you to physically activate it on their site even after making a qualifying purchase. 

It may also only cover the cardholder and not additional cardholders or other members of the family.  There might be limits on the type and value of cover and may only cover the actual period of travel.  Excesses are often higher.  Does it start on the date you make the relevant purchase or the date of your first travel event?  Will it cover pre-existing conditions?  Is there are travel duration time?  Buyer beware on this level of cover.  Be sure to do your homework.

What you need in event of a claim

Make sure you have your insurer’s details handy.  A phone number and email address are a good start.  Many providers now also have apps.  Be able to access your policy number easily too.

Tip: Before we travel, we take photos of our luggage (external) and everything inside.  If you have valuable items, photograph them individually.  They are great for proving the condition of the items and that they were also travelling with you.

The PDS will guide you through this so it’s always good to have quick access to it in the event of an issue.  Many things can be claimed upon your return back home, but some need you to actually carry out certain actions when and where it happened.  For example, if something has been stolen, or you’ve been involved in an accident, it is usually mandatory to lodge a police report with your claim.  Getting police reports can be difficult sometimes. 

In India, when Stirling’s iphone was stolen, they didn’t want to write a report.  They tried to tell us it was an Indian Metro jurisdiction.  In the end, he got what he needed but he had to stand his ground for quite some time.  

It took me months of chasing up the police department in the US when we had an issue but perseverance paid off in the end. When your luggage gets damaged, a report must be filed at the airport with the offending airline. Sometimes, the insurer will also ask you to try and claim with the other provider first if possible (eg airline) As long as you know what you need, you can produce the right outcome to get paid by your insurance company.

Make sure you also understand any time limits as they relate to making claims.  It’s always best practice to do this straight away, if possible, or at least as soon as you arrive home.

Tip: Keep all paperwork including boarding passes, baggage tags, medical reports, police reports and business cards/contact names.  Take photos of everything as a record. You should also carry a phone that has the ability to make calls and access the internet in case of emergencies.  

paperwork for lost luggage

Let someone know you have travel insurance

We have a copy of our policy on us at all times via the dedicated app.  I always give a copy to my family so they have all the details in the event of an emergency.  As Australians, we also register with the government travel portal Smart Traveller.  Before we go anywhere, we log our basic itinerary here, in the event of an emergency overseas.  The website doesn’t make it simple to do this.  I hand that job off to Stirling to complete as it frustrates the hell out of me!  Check to see if you have something similar to this in your country.

The main items covered by travel insurance

These are usually standard inclusions in a comprehensive travel insurance policy.  You should have these as a minimum.

  • Medical expenses (injury, illness) – This should be the major reason for taking out a travel insurance policy.  As you will see from some of the stories in this article, medical issues and emergencies can strike at any time.  We’ve had friends land in Japan for a family skiing holiday, only to be struck down with Influenza A, rendering a lot of their holiday a disaster.  Not only did they forego certain activities, but the medical costs were also significant.  Similarly, a friend has broken her leg skiing in the US, another nasty medical bill shock if she didn’t have insurance.  Another person I know went running in an overseas location, fell ill on her return to her hotel and died of a brain aneurysm soon after.  This required a complete medical repatriation back to Australia.  A bout of Delhi Belly can turn into a serious bout of sickness requiring hospitalisation.  None of this was meant to happen, but all of it was very expensive.
  • Travel cancellation – This covers you if you need to cancel or amend your travel due to personal illness or circumstance that are outside of your control.
  • Travel disruption – Delays or changes to your travel schedule that are outside of your control.
  • Lost, damaged, delayed or stolen luggage
  • Loss or theft of personal items
  • Hire vehicles
  • Activities (note adventure sports will not be a basic inclusion)
  • Personal liability – In the event of you causing damage or injury to a third party.
  • Loss of income – If an accident that occurs overseas means you cannot go back to work on your return.
  • Cover for out of pocket expenses – If an injury or illness takes you by surprise and you don’t have enough funds to cover immediate costs, certain travel providers can advance funds to cover these out of pocket expenses.
  • Accidental death
  • Total and permanent disability – relates to the loss of eyesight or limbs during accidents whilst travelling.

Note: For a full list of everything covered, refer to an insurer’s PDS.  All coverage is specific to each individual provider.  The above is provided as an example only and should not imply that they are possible with every travel insurance provider.  Limits and exclusions may also apply.

Events that may not be covered by insurance companies

At a basic level, these items often form part of the exclusions of a policy.  They are subject to change depending on the insurer, or the addition of extra premiums or coverage.

  • Extreme winter sports are not usually included.  Additional coverage for sports such as skiing and snowboarding must be purchased at the time of buying the original policy.  Bunjee jumping, skydiving and white water rafting are also other possible exclusions.
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Cruising.  Despite the fact that there is medical staff on board, passengers are not able to get medical treatment for free.  This is an optional add-on that you should get if you are planning on cruising.
  • Age – Once you get to around 65 or 70, many providers will require special documentation from your medical practitioner to clear you for travel.  Some providers won’t insure people of a certain age at all.  If you are in this category, pay close attention to this item.
  • Pregnancy-related costs
  • Terrorism, war and natural disasters impacts are often not covered.
  • If a travel alert has been issued to advise people against travelling and you have an issue in such a place, cover may not be granted.
  • If a travel supplier or provider goes into financial liquidation or bankruptcy, anything booked with them is most often not covered. eg airline tickets, hotel bookings, tours
  • Unattended luggage or belongings.  This one can be a bit deceptive.  Whilst it might seem obvious not to walk away and leave your luggage unattended in an airport, hotel or train station, leaving your personal items on a bus, train or plane by mistake will also see your cover voided.  For example, leaving your phone in the pocket of an aircraft is not claimable.  Leaving your laptop on the seat of a train by accident will not be covered.  This is because most insurance companies regard these modes of transport as “public transport” and by leaving them here you haven’t taken adequate protection of them.  Equally, leaving your laptop on the dash of a hire vehicle won’t cover you either if it is stolen.
  • Driving a hire vehicle whilst under the influence of drugs or alcohol or without the appropriate licence will also see your cover voided.

Note: Once again, refer the insurance company’s PDS for a complete list of exclusions, limits and requirements.

Travel issues requiring insurance cover

There are many people out there who have never had a single issue arise when they have been travelling!  That is fantastic and we should always hope that it stays that way.  Of course, there’s always a first time.  The best travel insurance we’ve ever had is the one we’ve never had to use.  However, as frequent travellers who cover a lot of ground, spend a lot of time away and who regularly hire vehicles, issues are unfortunately common.

Our travel insurance stories

Stolen clothes

In the USA back in 2008, we were doing our laundry in the dedicated laundry room at the hotel we were staying at.  Our room was adjacent to the laundry.  Realising I had left my laundry bag in our room, I briefly left the laundry to retrieve the bag.  When I got back, only a minute or so later, all of my laundry was gone.  The cycle had finished and the washing machine had unlocked.  There was no-one to be seen nearby.  The claim amounted to approximately AUD$400

Delayed luggage

In 2014, we left Santorini in the Greek Islands bound for Dubrovnik in Croatia.  Our flight from Santorini arrived late into Athens, where we had to change planes.  Upon arrival in Dubrovnik, we waited (and waited) for our luggage to arrive.  It didn’t.  Eventually, after exhausting all avenues, we had to leave without it.  We were only in Dubrovnik for two days before we were moving on to Split, and then flying to France. 

Our luggage took three days to arrive, doing so just before we had to leave Dubrovnik.  It had been winging its way around other European destinations, before finally being found in Switzerland.  To make matters worse, because we were on a low-cost airline into Dubrovnik, they made us put our cabin bags into the hold as well.  This meant all we were left with was the clothes we were wearing and a few things in my handbag. 

Our travel insurance covered us as the delay was greater than 24 hours.  This meant we could shop for necessities including clothing, hats, sunscreen and toiletries (including contact lens solution so I could take my contacts out!).  To make matters worse, when the luggage arrived, mine was damaged.  The total claim was approximately $500 USD.

calling the airline to advise of damage
Some of the damage on the suitcase.

Damaged baggage

You only have to look out of the window of a plane to see how poorly our luggage is handled.  In 2016, my Samsonite suitcase arrived at Jakarta Airport with significant damage to the wheels.  It was replaced.  Approximately cost $600 AUD.  

In 2014, a large soft suitcase was torn.  Under insurance we claimed a replacement suitcase.  Approximate cost $200 AUD.

In 2019, the built-in combination security lock on my Samsonite hard case jammed.  To be able to get into my suitcase, a member of staff at the hotel I was staying at had to use tools to pull it apart, damaging the lock.  Insurance covered the replacement of the entire locking mechanism.

Stolen equipment

Stirling was on a packed, peak-hour train in Delhi, India in 2018.  His iPhone was in a pocket that was zipped up.  Being squashed in a sardine can meant that he had his hands up above his head to hold on as the train moved.  In a split second, someone was able to undo the zip and take the phone.  The insurance coverage for this was $700 AUD.  

Tip: Be sure to know exactly what your coverage is for valuables.  Our insurance policy covers $700 but brand new iPhones are in excess of $1200, often much more.  To cover for a higher rate, we would need to add this as a personal item and increase the premium.

 Hire car damage

We have been hiring motorhomes and campervans since 1997 and the majority of those trips did not require travel insurance.  However, there were several occasions when we did.  In 2009, as we were driving our motorhome through Europe, a rock from another car sprayed onto our windscreen causing a very small chip.  Under European law, it is illegal to drive with a cracked windscreen.  If a hired motorhome is returned with a crack, the hiring company has no choice but to replace it.  This means that the driver will be charged for the replacement.

We had this happen to us again in 2012, this time with a motorhome we hired with France Motorhome Hire.  Through no fault of our own, we had yet another damaged windscreen to pay for.

Both instances were covered by our travel insurance.  The cost was not insignificant.  Both charges were around 700 Euros each, around $1100 AUD.

We are not the only unlucky ones!  I’ve spoken to a number of frequent travellers to get an understanding of the types of issues they’ve encountered.  This gives a broad coverage of real and specific examples of the types of issues that can happen when we are travelling. 

Natalia Andersson-Laing – Something of Freedom

In February 2017 we found out just how important travel insurance is. Whilst we were travelling South America we decided to base ourselves in Buenos Aires for a month to get to know the city better and take some time out to rest. During this time, I woke up screaming in pain for 5 nights in a row at around 3/4am.

I always seemed to be ok the following morning, but after 5 nights we decided it was time to visit the hospital. I was sent for blood tests, an ultrasound and an MRI, but the results were inconclusive. It was only when I returned to England a few months later and had further tests that I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.

The medical bills in Argentina ended up costing around $2,000 USD, but thankfully we had good travel insurance, which meant we got the money back. After that experience we would never consider travelling without insurance again because you never know if you’re going to need urgent medical attention. It’s especially important if you’re already aware you have a medical condition, but make sure to declare it when purchasing your insurance as otherwise it won’t be covered by the insurer!

Annie Robinson – Off Goes Annie

Nothing would ever dampen my love of travelling, but I’ve been hit by some really bad luck whilst backpacking over the last few years – thank goodness for travel insurance to save my bank account on both occasions! A few years ago, I was travelling around Thailand and having the absolute time of my life. However, the day before I was due to fly home, I fell sick.

Things deteriorated really quickly, so my travel buddy swiftly took me to the hospital. After lots of tests, it turned out I had dengue fever and had to stay in hospital for several days. The combination of tests, hospital stay, and missed flight meant that I would have lost around $3,000, but luckily I didn’t have to pay a cent of this.

Lightning struck again whilst we were travelling around New Zealand a few months back. We’d hired a campervan to spend three weeks exploring the beautiful North and South Islands. We were visiting in the depths of winter and one day we were hit by fairly heavy snow. My partner was reversing the van into a space at a campsite when we suddenly heard glass shattering. Whipping around, we saw a tree branch had come straight through the back window of our van – a tree had been in our blindspot.

Immediately very concerned by the prospect of bedding down for the night in the open, and freezing air, we rushed outside the van to assess the damage. We’d badly dented the rear door, and the window was totally gone. Again, luckily our insurance pulled through and we were able to get it repaired for free the following morning, allowing us to continue our adventure.

smashed windscreen travel insurance annie robinson image
Image by Annie Robinson

Nicci O’Mara – Trip Chiefs

When you’re in your 20’s, you never expect that anything will go wrong when you’re travelling.

I’d been travelling for nearly two years without incident and was on my way home via Kenya when tragedy struck. My sister who was a healthy 28 year old was killed in an accident at home on day one of my five-week safari.

The cost of an emergency flight home for two people was over $7,000 which fortunately a family friend paid, so we could get home. I was a broke young backpacker and in no state to organise anything.

When we got home our travel insurance reimbursed the cost of the flight home plus the cost of the five-week safari, which in total came to over $15,000.

In over 25 years of travelling the world, I’ve only used travel insurance this one time but will never ever leave home without it. I also now make sure that I have access to additional funds in case of emergency so that I’m not reliant on others.

Nicole LaBarge – Travelgal Nicole

Never travel without travel insurance. That is rule number one when it comes to traveling for me. You will never be able to predict a strike in a foreign country that caused your flight to be delayed and miss your connecting flight and you will never be able to predict something happening like appendicitis.

That’s why I was happy (can you be happy when something breaks?) when my digital SLR was broken on safari in Kenya and I was able to make a claim the same day and receive a payout one week later. Basically, we were on a truck on safari in Africa going offroad to get around. My camera was around my neck and I was holding onto it. As we were driving, the truck went over a large bump and I let go of my camera to hold on.  That’s when my camera went flying into the side of the truck, smashing my lens and breaking my camera.

My DSLR was worth about $1,500 USD and the macro lens I had on it was $500 USD. I received the replacement value of the camera and was able to buy a new one. This was perfect because the following week I was traveling to Rwanda to go trekking to see the gorillas and I did not want to miss out on taking photos of this once in a lifetime event.

Steve Rohan – The Trip Goes On

I didn’t always worry about travel insurance when going away, but after I got sick in Thailand in 2017 and spent a fortune on hospital tests, as well as missed flights, I vowed that it would be a mistake I wouldn’t repeat again!

I was in Thailand to meet a friend from back home (I live and work in China and he in England) and towards the end of our stay on Koh Samui, I started to feel sick. As we made our way back to Bangkok on the overnight train my fever got worse and worse. I had spent a couple of days hiking and camping in the jungle on the Thai/Myanmar border a week before with my girlfriend and worried that I had picked up malaria or another tropical disease.

I was due to fly to Vietnam when we arrived in Bangkok but was so sick with a fever that I booked into a hostel and then headed to the nearest hospital. It was then that the realisation dawned on me that I had to pay not only for any treatment but also the diagnoses and tests (coming from England where we have the NHS this was a bit of a shock).

After tests for malaria and dengue fever (both negative) and subsequent antibiotics, the hospital bill came to almost $400 and I really kicked myself for scrimping on the insurance!

Chris Bienemann – More Life in Your Days

Having travel insurance really paid off when I was involved in a snowboarding accident on the piste. I needed to be rescued by the ski patrol who wrapped me up nice and warm and whisked me off the mountain on a sledge.

From here there was a short journey in an ambulance and a very painful resetting of my wrist into a cast. Of course, this was a private hospital and we had to pay for everything. It wasn’t cheap with the 100-metre journey in the ambulance coming to a couple of hundred euros alone ( I would have walked if I had known!).

Fortunately, we had travel insurance and had paid a little bit extra to get winter sports cover. We contacted the insurers and they were able to sort everything out really quickly, they covered the costs upfront so we didn’t need to pay and them reclaim which made everything much simpler.

It still wasn’t the best holiday ever but at least I got the treatment I needed without worrying about the cost. The financial hit was limited to just the small policy excess rather than the full bill of over 600 euros.

Christine Wedberg – Christine Abroad

Our campervan got hit by a truck while driving around Iceland at night after we had been catching the northern lights. Luckily no one in our van got hurt, but the truck driver just continued to drive after it demolished our side-mirror.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to catch the license plate as it was dark outside and it passed by so quickly.

This meant that we became liable for the damage since the driver didn’t stop and we had no proof that we didn’t cause it in the first place. The truck was driving in full-speed as well, so it could have been a lot worse with injuries or even fatalities. Despite the fact that it was the truck driver’s fault entirely we were still liable.

It was a  bummer that we had to pay for the damage to get a replacement for the side-mirror, even though I was thankful that it was only the side-mirror that got broken.  Without travel insurance, it would’ve cost us a lot more to replace it. Thanks to the insurance, we only had to pay the excess fee of a few hundred Euros. Without it, we would’ve been forced to pay 1,600 Euros for the replacement.

In case we had gotten injuries we would’ve been covered as well thanks to the travel insurance, and it’s important to always have one while traveling overseas. Especially in an expensive country like Iceland where costs can reach extraordinary sums.

christine wedburg image campervan damage iceland

Sinead Camplin – Map Made Memories

Due to sickness and injuries sustained during previous child-free travel, we knew that a comprehensive travel insurance policy was a must for our family, year-long, around the world trip. We spent hours and hours searching for a policy to best suit our needs and requirements. We ended up making several claims – for a damaged camera, physio treatment and for a prolonged hospital stay due to typhoid! However, our worst incident occurred in rural Costa Rica.

Our six-year-old son slipped in the shower and hit his head on the edge of the tiled shower tray. It still makes me feel sick just thinking about it. It was immediately obvious he would need several head stitches. We used our insurance company medical emergency helpline and our son was quickly treated at an excellent nearby clinic. Plus, he had follow up treatment to remove the stitches. We paid around $300 USD  upfront which was promptly and seamlessly reimbursed by our insurance company.

costa rica sinead camplin
Image by Sinead Camplin

Hanna Thomas – SolarPoweredBlonde

About 10 years ago now, I’m sure everyone remembers when the volcano in Iceland erupted and there was a week of travel disruptions due to volcanic ash. I was lucky enough to be in Egypt at the time. I was staying at the Hilton Hotel near Sharm El Sheikh, and was only able to afford an extra week here due to having good travel insurance. Everyone in the hotel was stranded, but would have to pay for the extra nights here.

The travel insurance paid for an entire extra week in the resort in Egypt. We even got upgraded to a villa on the beach, as we had gone as a group of about 10 and they wanted to keep rooms free for other people who were also stranded in nearby hotels. If it hadn’t been for the travel insurance I would have paid up to £100 a night to stay here extra, so £700 at least for the whole week. As I was only 16 and on a family holiday with a friend and her family, I definitely couldn’t afford to stay any extra nights, I was still only just paying off the cost of the whole holiday in the first place!

Sarah Carter – A Social Nomad

We were 28 days into a 90-day overland trip from Istanbul, Turkey to Kathmandu, Nepal, from where we planned to spend more time in Nepal, India and then South East Asia when we got the message. My 80-year-old mother in law had been taken into hospital. My husband, her only son, was with me, and his sister was in Corfu. We’d had experience of emergency flights home the previous year when her husband died quite suddenly and we’d flown back from Guatemala in a hurry.

This time we were in Turkmenistan and needed to cross the Caspian Sea and fly via Moscow back to the UK. By the time we got home, Edith, my mother in law, was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her time was short and she wanted to die at home. With the support of the local district nurses and teaming up with my sister in law and her husband, we brought her home and had what was both the best and worst three weeks I’ve ever experienced. It was the happiest, but the hardest of times. Edith had a bucket list of things to eat, a final visit to the seaside and a constant stream of visitors to whom she talked the legs off.

Our insurance company were great. We had to pay for our flights some (around GBP 1200), but this was included in our claim – which also covered what we had paid for the rest of our overland trip. Our total claim was nearly GBP 8,000 and was paid in full. When life events overtake you like this, you need all the support you can get – having the backing of a good insurance company , with trained staff, makes a massive difference and just lets you get on with what you need to do and worrying about the money aspect is one thing that you really don’t need.

sarah carter turkey
Image by Sarah Carter

This is not a sponsored post.  I use Travel Insurance Direct and have done so for a decade.  Other insurance companies in this article are ones that offer a broad range of options to travellers anywhere in the world.

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