Traveling without proper travel insurance lays you open to the risk of spending tens of thousands after an accident. If you shop around properly it doesn’t cost a lot; I’ll show you how to do it right. The idea of this is website is to show you how to save money and get the best value, though sometimes getting value means spending money: these are things not to scrimp on.
Perhaps of all these things, decent medical travel insurance is the most important. While the UK’s National Health Service – a gargantuan enterprise offering totally free healthcare to all citizens – will theoretically look after you for nothing if you have an accident or serious illness while you’re in the UK, it’s no substitute for being at home.
Example: a friend came to visit with his mother. She broke her foot in a complicated way and needed specialist surgery which would take weeks to recover from. She wanted to have this done in an US hospital – but to get home she needed three economy seats booked on her flight home so that she could lie flat if she needed to. Obviously this had to be booked at the very last second and the total cost was well, well over $3,000. If she’d fallen more badly she’d have potentially needed several business class seats at a cost of well over $10,000 for her and carer(s).
Sadly once these things have happened, it’s too late.
And if you think you’re properly covered using your credit card, well it’s only a half-truth. Many cards don’t have great travel cover. There are heaps of exclusions and the coverage is often poor – sometimes even only travelling you while you travel (i.e. while you’re having a nice glass of wine, strapped in, at 35,000ft and being waited on by stewardesses) but not once you actually leave the airport at the other end!
But you can avoid it with proper, standalone travel insurance – and it’s actually available cheaper than you think.
How do I get the best deal?
1. Double-check if your home medical insurance covers repatriation abroad.
Even if it doesn’t travel insurance is still worth considering: It covers you if you have to cancel your trip or if you get mugged while your abroad. London’s a relatively safe city but what if you break your camera or have your wallet stolen? And check that the medical insurance will pay for every scenario.
2. Search the whole market
Annoyingly there are thousands of travel insurance companies out there and searching each individually would take eons. Smart travellers don’t have to. There is a brilliant, free tool to search many policies at once which does the work for you. It will find you the cheapest deal with the best cover, and you get to choose which policy you want. Navigate to the genius that is the Squaremouth site. You only have to plug-in your details once and they’ll immediately search through most (though not all) policies on the market at once. It’s by far the easiest and quickest way to save money on a vital product!
3. Double check it covers you adequately
Once you’ve found a price you’re happy with, you need to check that the cover being offered is right for your needs. Notably, if you’re travelling with a pre-existing medical condition and want to be covered from any complications that may arise from it then you’ll need to check that the cover being offered includes this.
If you’re likely to be backpacking or away from home for a longer time than a typical annual policy would give you cover for: don’t despair. There’s an option for you too: World Nomads. It’ll cover you in many countries so you don’t need to plan in advance where you’re going and it’s designed for people exactly like you. It’s even recommended by those nice folks at Lonely Planet.
The great thing about this is that it will also give you cover for adventurous activities. You may not think much of the idea of trekking in the Pyrennes, skiing in Scotland, Snowboarding in the French Alps or rock-climbing in Wales now, but the joy of backpacking is that you have time to consider doing these adventure activities. You need decent travel insurance in case things go wrong and Nomad is designed specifically for backpackers. It’s not a lot and you can get your folks to pay for it if you’re struggling with budgets. It’s totally worth checking out the policies compared on Squaremouth too to make absolutely sure you’ve covered the whole of the market.