Why You Need Travel Insurance

by Caitlin
Published: Last Updated on
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The first time I got travel insurance I was 23 and I’d been traveling for years at that point. But I was going on a cycle from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. It was organized by fellow teachers at the school I was teaching at — the trip was a charity ride and it was sponsored by DHL. We were required to get trip insurance for the full month we were gone. Five days into the ride my friend was run over by a truck. We went to three hospitals that day — she went into emergency surgery and then spent the rest of the month in the hospital before traveling back to the US. The travel insurance covered all of it and I never took a trip without insurance again. 

When I’ve Used Travel Insurance

While travel insurance covers many different elements of travel, I have exclusively used travel insurance for medical reasons.

The first time I used it was in 2018 when I got bit by a pig in the Bahamas. I went to the hospital and got a tetanus booster. It was simple but it was The Bahamas, so it was expensive. Travel insurance refund me $512.32 — I paid $142.33 for that trip coverage.

The second time was less than a year later when I got bit by a dog in Indonesia (for some reason I was attracting a lot of unwanted attention from animals back then). That one was a doozy. I had to get stitches and then many, many shots to get me fully vaccinated and protected against rabies. This one was a whopping $3,225.14 refunded on a plan which cost me $323.83.

And the third time I used travel insurance was more recently when I caught Covid. I was already living in Portugal at the time but I  had gone to the US for christmas and there were still requirements to have a negative test to board a flight. So I was stranded in New York City and needed somewhere to stay. I was only able to cover two nights of a hotel because the third night would have been New Year’s Eve and that gets mighty expensive and there’s a limit on hotel coverage with the plan I had. But I had $548.67 refunded for hotel stays on a plan that cost me $78.80

What Travel Insurance Can Cover

There are lots of different levels of travel insurance you can get. For all of the trips I mentioned above I used World Nomads standard plan which covers emergencies, accidents, and sickness, emergency evacuation, repatriation of remains, evacuation in the case of civil or political unrest, trip cancellation, interruption, or delay, baggage loss, theft, damage, or delay, and rental car coverage. World Nomads also has an explorer level plan. The main difference of the two plans is the coverage maximums and adventure sports that are covered. For example, if you want to do something like abseiling you’ll need to get the higher level explorer plan. But standard everyday sports like cycling or trekking are covered at both levels. 

The elements mentioned above are pretty standard for what travel insurance will cover. The one thing that has had me shift from World Nomads to a plan from Insubuy is needing coverage in the US as a US-citizen living abroad. Because my permanent residence remains in the US, World Nomads won’t cover me there, but Insubuy has plans specifically for people with my circumstances.

The Best Travel Insurance Companies

It’s worth understanding that almost any of the companies you will buy travel insurance from are essentially intermediaries as your plan will always be underwritten by a larger insurance company. For example, World Nomads is usually underwritten by Nationwide.  

  • World Nomads: As mentioned above, I have used World Nomads consistently for more than a decade now and have really appreciated their support any time I’ve encountered issues. They have a 24-hour assistance line where the operators can help you locate the best medical facilities or even connect you over the phone with a nurse if needed. 
  • Insubuy: Again, this is a great place to go shop for insurance if you are visiting the US. It is also the place to buy insurance if you need it for visa reasons — whether into the US, Schengen, or other locations. While I have purchased plans through this company, I have never had to file a claim so I cannot speak to the ease of that process with them. 
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  • Safetywing: Note that I have never purchased a plan through this company. The main target here is insurance for digital nomads or remote workers. 

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