How to buy travel insurance? Look online! But how do you find the best travel insurance? What do you look for? What questions should you ask? How can you maximise the chance of getting paid out when something goes wrong? We attempt to answer all those questions in this travel insurance podcast!

Listen and comment right below, or find episode 228 in iTunes:

Do you need travel insurance?

While we haven’t always had travel insurance, it’s now a no-brainer for us to buy travel insurance before we leave home. We’re not too worried about our things being stolen, but if we have an accident the medical costs could bankrupt us and leave us stranded.

When choosing your holiday travel insurance, you need to think about what matter most to you, then choose a policy which ticks all the boxes.

Finding the right travel insurance

Online searches are the obvious place to start, but they’re not always the best place to finish. In addition to online research, pick up the phone and talk to some of the vendors you’re looking at. You can ask them the questions below, and also see if they can offer you any discounts on the advertised price. It’s always worth a go!

Three main types of travel insurance

There are three main types of travel insurance policy:
Single trip, normally with a time limit of 30 days; sometimes less, sometimes more.

Multi trip, which will cover you for multiple trips returning to your homeland over a period of time. These trips are normally time-limited at one month as well.

Backpackers, which can vary widely in its meaning: it could be for smaller payouts on items, it could be for long periods of time, it could be extra cover for adventurous activities. Backpacker travel insurance really does mean different things to different companies — so read the small print.

If you have any questions at all about your coverage, pick up the phone and ask. The wait times and treatment you experience as a potential customer won’t neccessarily show you how good their customer service is, but it might give you a good indication of what’s to come. We’ve not bought insurance from some vendors because their pre-sales staff didn’t know their product and couldn’t answer our questions.

Your bus?

Questions to ask about travel insurance

  • Do I need a home address? (This one’s for long-term nomads).
  • Must I be in my country of origin when I start and finish the trip? Or the policy?
  • Does it cover each country you are going to?
  • It is more expensive for some countries?
  • If so, can you specify when you’ll be in the expensive ones?
  • Does insurance cover flights home in case of emergencies?
  • What about cancellations or bankruptcy on the airline or tour company’s part?
  • How do you make a claim and what’s the average response time?

Here are a few things to look for when choosing your insurance to make sure that you will be covered on your adventure:

Cancellation: It’s no fun if you fall ill before you leave and can not go on your trip. To claim though, you have to buy your insurance policy when you buy your trip. Not all insurance policies cover cancellation, so please read the policy wording relevant to you carefully.

Lost or stolen gear: most travel insurance policies have a per-item value limit — make sure its high enough to cover your gear or choose a policy that allows you to increase the limit.

Medical expenses over and above evacuation: check that your cover includes emergency treatment while away and transport to bring you home — remembering that insurance providers will usually insist on getting you home as soon as you are fit enough to travel.

Adventurous activities: look carefully at what your policy covers – you may find that you are not covered to do all of the adventurous activities that you are planning while you’re away.

Personal liability: Accidents happen. If it’s found to be your fault and someone decides to sue you, you want to be covered.

Recording purchases

So how can you make sure you’re actually going to get what you claim? This is the big question and one that makes me really sceptical about insurance. Obviously travellers are not going to keep all their paperwork!

We try to:

  • Scan or photograph receipts and the serial numbers of high-priced items.
  • Keep receipts of ATM withdrawals and foreign currency conversions
  • Keep them locally, upload them to dropbox and email them to ourselves.
  • We use and label insurance-based pictures as private.
  • Try to create believable evidence regarding our possessions.
A shot like this, with details of serial numbers

Acting responsibly

A few years back now, we interviewed Graham Kingaby from WorldNomads insurance. We asked him all sorts of questions about the travel insurance game, and how travellers can best protect themselves.

Graham’s main tip was to act as if you were uninsured. If companies can prove you were acting negligently, they will invalidate your claim. And no-one wants that.

Get a travel insurance quote

Travel insurance questions?

Have travel insurance questions? Stories to share that will help the community? Please leave them in the comments section below:

Your thoughts on "How to buy travel insurance podcast"

  • See two audio players above? We're currently testing a new account at, but we haven't gotten it fully integrated yet. Let us know what you think!

    on February 12, 2012 at 9:14 pm Reply
    • I like it better than iTunes

      on February 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm Reply
      • Hi Lis, thanks for the feedback. A few thousand people listen via iTunes each week, and we're certainly keeping the mp3 and the enhanced podcast going there! We're trying to see if we can get the old player fully replaced with these pretty, interactive SoundCloud players and working with them to try and make that happen.

        on February 13, 2012 at 10:44 pm
  • worldnomads (and many others) seem to have no cover for existing health conditions (and a very broad definition of the same), they also have only $500k cover on evac - that sounds very, very low, and if I had a broken leg I most certainly wouldn't be wanting to fly economy!

    on February 13, 2012 at 9:04 pm Reply
    • Finding cover for pre-existing medical issues is definitely hard. And finding insurance for over 65's too! I don't think you'd be flying economy on half a million dollars; but the main goal of evac is to get you from the danger zone to a safe-haven or properly equipped medical centre - not repatriation. As you're a New Zealander, you might look into SCTI who have unlimited budgets for evac... but you can only hold a policy for 12 months, so need another renewal option if you're travelling for an extended period.

      on February 13, 2012 at 10:48 pm Reply
  • Hi - "Finding cover for pre-existing medical issues is definitely hard. And finding insurance for over 65?s too!" we can help with that ! over 65's - Pre-Existing Medical Insurance - hope that helps - Great post by the way Thanks Tristan

    on February 15, 2012 at 5:34 am Reply

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