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.

Whew!

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.

WTF?

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.

The Companies:

World Nomads

STA Travel

Travel Guard

Price

(5 months travel)

$256

$477

$653

What’s Covered

Trip Cancellation100%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)100% of insured trip cost.
Trip Cost Interruption100%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)150% of insured trip cost.
Trip Interruption – Return Air Only150%, up to $5,000 of trip cost.Covers total trip cost ($20,000 Max)$750 max.
Trip Delayn/a$500 (up to $150/day)$750 (up to $150/day)
Missed Connectionn/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$1,000Part of their Damaged Belongings coverage.Part of their Damaged Belongings coverage.
Baggage Delayn/a$500$300
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 CoverageNot covered.Not covered.Available on upgraded plans.
AdditionalCovers 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.

42 Comments

  1. Really informative grid, Ricardo. Thanks so much for putting it together. I’m pleased to be able to share it with everyone.

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  2. One caveat. Virtually all travel insurance plans have two clauses buried deep in their legalese that combine to create a tricky way for them to limit potentially expensive claims.

    1) Coverage ends the moment you return to your home country.
    2) The insurance company retains the right to determine if they will pay for treatment at a medical facility in the country -or- with the approval of the medical provider they may decide to pay for your flight home. (Return to #1)

    I knew a guy who shattered his leg in Vietnam. The travel insurance company reimburse him $200 for the cost of getting to a high quality hospital in Thailand. His spouse had to pay her own way. They covered the cost of the initial consultation in Bangkok where the doctor determined he needed significant medical care. The insurance company then offered to fly him home knowing they would not have to pay for that care. He wanted to be treated at the exceptional Bangkok hospital. The company refused to pay for that treatment citing clause #2 above. He had no insurance at home so he was left uninsured.

    So, be aware that the potential payout of most travel insurance policies is limited to the cost of stabilization and a flight home.

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  3. I think using UK-based backpackers insurance, sourced from a comparison site like moneysupermarket.com will work out best for anyone based in the UK.

    We’re paying a fraction of what you mention here for two of us, for a year, though most have an age cutoff.

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  4. Reading VWVagabonds’ reply, I’m reminded of one important rule of claim filing: remain vigilant. It’s one thing for an insurance company to automatically dismiss any claim in the first round (this seems to be standard operating procedure for most) but one needs to remain in their face. By reminding them the power of the WWW, that a lot of bad publicity could be generated in a short amount of time, that is leverage one could use. But to play it safe, one needs to read their coverage carefully, then search the Internet for “complaints” about a particular carrier.

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  5. I tried buying World Nomads Travel insurance but the costs depend on your home country. For Japan the prices were about triple the US costs.

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  6. Yikes. It’s hard to fathom that any country would be more expensive than the States. I’ll have to point the World Nomads people over to this comment.

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  7. Here’s another company worth considering specifically for health insurance: https://www.sevencorners.com/ They have good options for non US citizens, and also for those who might need to be covered in the US (whether or not it is your residence) Also, most plans have an option to add “Hazardous Sports Coverage” for a few extra bucks, that covers you for motorcycle riding, skydiving, mountain climbing, and other more- life-threatening-than-sitting-on-the-couch activities.

    I found that my normal renters insurance policy covered all my gear while traveling, and was far cheaper than buying a travel policy, with a lot fewer restrictions.

    Hope this info is useful.

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  8. Excellent post… it is very useful and informative. Choosing the best travel insurance that is right for you is quite a tricky part but there are experts that can help you decide. Actually, good thing that there are already numbers of reading materials that can be used for references.

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  9. I’m shopping for a travel insurance and a friend of mine adviced me to shop online and also to read reviews written regarding travel insurance policies and I am really thankful that I ran across this post. It is the best review and most helpful post I have come across. I will definitely go by what you have experienced, said and recommended. Thank you very much for making it simple for me. God Bless you.

    Post a Reply
    • Glad to read the article was helpful to you. That’s what we strive to do at Nu Nomad. BTW, if you haven’t already done so, join our Tribe at http://www.nunomad.com/tribe.

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  10. I am preparing to travel overseas to work as a teacher, mostly. I hoping to have time for some leisure activity.

    I know that I need the TESOL certification. I have been working on that and finally received it from itesolcourse.com. I am really proud of this achievement.

    Anyway, I am online researching as much information as I can find about traveling overseas and came across this article discuss travelers insurance.

    While it was very informative, it did generate one question for me. Do I need travelers insurance if I am going to be living overseas instead of taking a short trip there?

    Let me know.

    Post a Reply
    • Good question. I spend a lot of time in one location myself. And though there is a local option for health insurance (Blue Cross), I use travel insurance instead (WorldNomads). The reason is is that it covers much more than medical. And since I travel with a lot of stuff these days, it’s good to know that much of it is covered. Plus the emergency evacuation feature is comforting to have. That said, if you are young and healthy, and where you are going has cheap medical services, then not having travel insurance may not be such a risk.

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  11. Choosing a travel insurance for your trip is like entering the examination hall with full preparation….I mean to say knowledge of choosing a travel insurance is must….and one must have to be very active while selecting the one..

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  12. very well said it seems like you’ve had many travel experiences and it really help me a lot.

    visitor insurance

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  13. Thats nice! a very informative and resourceful post! I want to travel on state and about this post it will be good. Thanks for sharing this Visitor Insurance tips

    Post a Reply
  14. @Randal take your friends advice shopping for a travel insurance online could save you more time and it can even give you more choices to compare with.

    Visitor Insurance USA

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  15. Hi,
    My name is Ryan. I live in Aberdeen. Yeah this is a fact that travel insurance is really important that travel insurance is really important in today’s risky life.  People generally do not think about this matter seriously, but it is really important. Thanks !
    ____________________
    how to find cheap flights

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  16. Hey thanks for the info, Getting ready to travel to a remote part of Belize for my honeymoon but I wasn’t sure which company i’d like to go with, This helped a lot!

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  17. I’m wondering if you ever considered buying a policy that doesn’t include trip cancellation coverage – in other words one focused on medical, evacuation, interruption, repatriation, etc. coverage. I think you’d find the cost to be significantly less. We utilize HCC Life for these kinds of plans, but there are others. Seven Corners offers a more traditional trip cancellation plan (they call it “Round Trip”) that might be worth investigating as well. Shameless plug: We broker this stuff: http://www.GoTripInsurance.com

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  18. Thanks for sharing your experience. Sometimes it?s really inevitable for us to overlook some important matters regarding the policy we?re getting. We think that because the company is good, we put so much trust in it that we no longer compare it to others. I must say that you learned well and now compared your trusted provider to others. By doing so, you discovered other things about its competitors and you?re able to prove that your provider still stands out.

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  19. lifting injury compensation Every day workers suffer accidents whilst lifting or carrying things at work. The government?s Health and Safety Executive?s statistics are that nearly 40% of all significant injuries in the workplace happen whilst people are doing work lifting and carrying.

    Post a Reply
  20. Compared to the monthly premium option, yearly premium payments offers the best value in health coverage. Monthly payments are easier to make many insurance companies reason. If you want to get this scheme, you need to pay more. A transaction tax is included in this plan when a check has to be processed.

    Post a Reply
  21. 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.

    Post a Reply
  22. Well, you should know how the policies of the travel insurance companies and how will it benefit you when you are currently into using the said travel insurance , how will it exactly support you, etc. 

    Post a Reply
  23. Thanks! This post was exactly the type of info I was looking for, the cost/benefit break down was especially nice.

    Post a Reply
  24. I had a similar experience for my recent trip to Shanghai where I was required to purchase travel insurance to make sure nothing went wrong overseas. But I found the whole process really complicated and confusing until I found and took out TravelPlus travel cover from Assured Alliance. So far it has been going really well for me and I had no issues as of yet. I hope this is helps.

    Thank you for your consideration
    Hamish

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  25. Do no purchase Covermore. They will do everything they can to slow down the payout, and every thing possible to avoid paying anything at all. They MAY grudgingly pay if they have exhausted all other possibilities.

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  26. Thanks for your post! I would not recommend World Nomads at all. I had their most expensive plan, I had to stop my trip because my mom had urgent surgery and they did not want to pay my trip back home, the reason? According to the dr my mom’s injury happened when she was a kid, eventhough she had never had a problem or noticed she had an injury before. For this reason they didn’t pay for my trip back home eventhough my mom was rushed into the emergency room… I have not worked with other companies but I would not recommend WorldNomads at all.

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  27. Most global nomads we know do not buy any travel insurances. Generally it is close to impossible to get any payouts with reasonable effort and most of the insurances are tied to being part of the system in some country. For example in Finland if you are not part of the Finnish social security, companies will not sell you insurance. And when you leave the country for more than 1 year, you loose the social security.

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  28. Travel insurance policy is a valuable precaution for any traveler. It is, however, not
    only mandatory to purchase a travel insurance plan in India for domestic
    travels, but also to international travels. It is mandatory as it safeguards
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    http://insurance.gibl.in/

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  29. I think I’m going to save my money next time, since going with World Nomad is like going with no insurance. I recently traveled to Jordan and Israel, and there were bombings near the region I was going to visit in Israel the day before I crossed over so I made the decision to cut my trip short, before which I called World Nomad to make sure that this was covered under my policy. After weeks of paperwork, going back and forth, no response, I finally receive a “We can’t reimburse you for your flight change because the bombing in Israel was 9 miles away from your destination and you have to be within 1 mile” message. I fee as if World Nomads is saying I pretty much have to be DEAD to qualify for an insurance reimbursement – which I’m pretty sure will still not pay out even after I’m dead since there’s probably some clause in the terms in between the fine lines.

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  30. Homeowners insurance protects you from financial losses caused by storms,
    fire, theft, and other events outlined in your policy. Carrying the right
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    family and belongings.

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  31. Good article. How much you will pay for a travel insurance will really depends on the activities you want to cover during your trip. Too many sports or risk activities, the more you will spend. This article gives apparently gives the 3 of the best and most affordable Travel Insurers depending on your level of activities during your travels: http://outofyourcomfortzone.net/how-to-buy-travel-insurance/

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  32. This site http://www.productreview.com.au/p/world-nomads.html has 167 World Nomads customer reviews.

    My personal experience if being sick in Cambodia. The World Nomads nurse on the phone advised me to go home for treatment. When I got back home my claim was denied, because I left the treating practice in Cambodia against medical advice.

    That is just not right.

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    • Thanks for sharing! I’ve had problems getting claims paid for travel insurance in the past as well. Fought two years for a reimbursement of a flight cancelled due to my work canceling my vacation dates. Ignored me until I had a lawyer write them a claim. Seems to be standard practice. For the costs of the insurance, you can pretty much buy yourself a plane ticket home anytime, which is all they seem to really do anyway, unless you actually do get hurt so bad you need immediate care.

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