How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance
It’s that time of year again when the air ticket has been bought and the travel insurance is being debated. It’s usually a no-brainer for me since I traditionally go with the same company every year mainly because of the big price difference between what I’ve been using and what I’ve chosen in the past. However, this year, I thought I’d do some checking around before I leave again for Asia. (I’m currently in the U.S.A.)
Why the second-guessing? Well, I was also prodded to do some comparison shopping after a good friend and fellow world-traveler had touted her insurance provider one I’ve used before Travel Guard. Although my friend usually travels for only 1-2 months at a time, where I tend to travel from 5-11 months at a time, I thought I’d check prices just to be sure (and to write a blog on the results). At the end, we were both right. I found that Travel Guard has better prices for short-term travel, where World Nomad was outstanding for the long-term travel.
But, there is more to a policy than price. What happens when you need to submit a claim?
Last year when I was nomad-ing through Thailand I began getting a slight pain in my chest. I wasn’t sure if it was due to my having worked-out extensively that month in Bangkok’s “Prison Park” (it’s the old Bangkok prison that was converted into a really nice public park that promotes all sorts of exercising: from Tai Chi to weight training). Anyway, I thought it prudent to go visit Doctor Nick at Mission Hospital (if you get sick in Thailand, that’s the hospital to visit) for a check-up. After a series of tests (chest x-ray, blood, EKG, some pointed questions by the doctor) it was determined that I was in fine health and that the pain I was experiencing was most likely due to muscle stress.
So the next day I submitted a claim to my travel insurance provider World Nomads. As I’d just mentioned I’ve been using them for the past few years, but this was the first time I had the opportunity to file a medical claim. (BTW, I’ve used the other two major travel insurance providers Travel Guard and STA Travel in past years and had made claims with each. None of them made it difficult for me to file claims and I was pleased with their service overall.) Anyway, once I contacted World Nomads they directed me to their on-line claims form. It was simple and quick. As for their response, that too was quick; and they assured me that I was covered. Excellent. But then they reminded me that their medical coverage is supplementary to whatever primary medical coverage I may already have.
Huh? I hadn’t remembered seeing such a provision when I was ordering the insurance policy on-line.
After it being pointed out to me, I did find it eventually. It was buried deep within the “What We Cover” section of the website, as well as within the fine print of the policy itself. After the claims agent had pointed that exclusion out to me, I assured him that I had no other “primary insurance.” No travel, health, life, auto or any other insurance. No problem, was his initial answer. However, I was then notified that I would have to submit a written NOTARIZED statement made to that effect (that I had no other travel insurance) before they could proceed with the claim.
Not only did their policy not make this nuisance provision clear (I’ve still yet to find any mentioning of notarization requirements on their website) but throughout the entire claim process there was no such requirement to have a similar notarized statement for the more important claim questions such as: costs, and if the medical event had actually occurred! (Heck, if one is lying about not having a primary insurance policy, they’d probably be lying even more about the injury itself.) Anyway, after complaining to several higher-ups in World Nomads company they eventually relented and let me submit my claim without notarization.
That being said, does this make World Nomads untrustworthy, or a bad value? Absolutely not. After researching and comparing World Nomads with Travel Guard and STA Travel, I found that only Travel Guard offers their medical coverage as “primary coverage.” As for the notarization issue, that seems to be at the whim of the provider and matter at hand. And once I compared policies between the three, I felt that the real issue was now down to the basics:
price and the limits of coverage
And guess who blew the competition out of the water? My old stand-by, World Nomads. But, and to be balanced, the other guys had some necessary coverage areas that were better than that of World Nomads. For example with Travel Guard, as I’d just mentioned, their medical coverage is not supplemental but primary. You won’t have to prove that you’re not covered with some other company. As for STA Travel’s edge, it’s in the Damaged Belongings category. They don\’t limit electronics, like one’s notebook computer, to that of only $500. So, there are some important differences between the companies besides cost.
Below are my comparison results between the three big travel insurance companies. But, I shall remind readers to read the fine print of whatever travel insurance policy he/she may select. This could make a big difference between reimbursement and getting nothing.
Your comments on travel insurance is greatly welcomed.
(5 months travel)
|Trip Cancellation||100%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.||Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)||100% of insured trip cost.|
|Trip Cost Interruption||100%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.||Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)||150% of insured trip cost.|
|Trip Interruption – Return Air Only||150%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.||Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)||$750 max.|
|Trip Delay||n/a||$500 (up to $150/day)||$750 (up to $150/day)|
|Missed Connection||n/a||$500 (up to $150/day)||$250|
|Lost, Stolen, Damaged Baggage and Belongings.||$2,500 ($500 maximum coverage for computer and electronics.)||$1,500 (No item limit.)||$1000 ($500 maximum coverage for computer and electronics.)|
|Sporting Equipment Coverage||$1,000||Part of their Damaged Belongings coverage.||Part of their Damaged Belongings coverage.|
|Medical Expenses||$100,000 (Includes $500 emergency dental.) Note: this is supplemental coverage.*||$100,000 (Includes emergency dental.) Note: this is supplemental coverage.*||$25,000. (Includes $500 max. emergency dental.) This is a primary coverage plan.|
|Emergency Medical Transport /Evacuation||$500,000||$250,000||$500,000|
|Travel Accident (death & dismemberment)||$10,000||$20,000||$10,000|
|Rental Car Coverage||Not covered.||Not covered.||Available on upgraded plans.|
|Additional||Covers many often excluded items such as kidnapping, sports and sporting equipment (up to $1000).||* Price is based on a 49-year-old traveling from the USA overseas within the Basic Plan. (Price is less if under 35 years-old.)||*Price is based on a 49-year-old traveling from the USA overseas within the Gold Plan.|
* Denotes that this is secondary coverage. If you have health insurance, you must submit your claim to that provider first. Any benefits you receive from your primary insurance provider or from any excess coverage will be deducted from your claim. Note that there may be similar supplemental provisions limitations within all policies for coverage that may include more than just medical. Although NuNomad.com is a member of World Nomads Partner Network, it is our primary priority to bring our readers balanced information.