You’re young and healthy, travel insurance is for suckers. It’s a waste of money. You won’t need it. After all, you’re traveling light with just a backpack. Well, that and your camera and, oh wait, an iPod. And maybe a laptop, just so you can keep in touch (and keep up with Farmville). You plan on meeting cool people on the way and winging it. It’s going to be awesome. Why would you need travel insurance?

Big damn volcano. That’s why.

When the Icelandic volcano erupted the IATA estimated that 1.2 million people a day were affected by it (via CNN). You didn’t even need to be in Europe to have your flight canceled. You and thousands of other people all trying to get a ever-dwindling number of rooms. How does an extra week in London impact your budget? But that won’t happen again – right?

What does travel insurance typically cover anyway?

Let’s look at what WorldNomads cover, but remember it varies from plan to plan. Typically they cover costs involved with canceled flights and missed trains or tours. Travel insurance also covers you if you have to cancel your trip or if your traveling companion backs out on you – you don’t want to get stuck with the full cost of things that you booked planning to pay half of.

Nearly all plans also have some sort of extra medical coverage. What if you get hit by a vehicle? I think you have to watch out for mopeds more than you do cars in many cities. Those little buggers will mess you up if you get clocked by one. Not going to the big cities? Ever read any blogs where someone has gone into the emergency room for food poisoning or malaria?

Did you know your travel insurance also covers lost or stolen bags? Yup, your Macarena iPod and Farmville box too. You have to read the fine print because there is often a $500 max on all “electronic gear” but it’s better then nothing.

A waste of money? Just think about it

You may have your ideas about travel insurance, if you’re a backpacker or on a limited budget you should really think about it. It doesn’t have to be something huge like a volcano, it could be something personal to you. My recent hospital stay taught me about that. Less than 12 hours before my flight to Europe I ended up in the hospital on large doses of morphine. My point is, you never plan on missing a flight.

We want you to be safe and to keep traveling. And one of the best ways to ensure that is to buy travel insurance.

What questions should you ask about travel insurance? Find out on our comprehensive travel insurance page.

Your thoughts on "Travel insurance? Why waste your money?"

  • Scott, You make great points, and here's a couple more. A good insurance plan can cover your Trip Cancellation if you lose your job (after 1 year on the job)between booking and departure, or even during the trip, or the boss says you can't go because of work. You get Trip Cancellation coverage with 3rd-party travel insurance if your tour company or airline goes bust before your trip and leaves your tickets worthless. And just this week there are reports of potential airline union strikes looming as the carriers return to profitability (see AA, for example). A good travel insurance plan covers you for strikes as long as you buy it before the union votes to confirm a strike date. Plus in hurricane season you are covered if a 'cane prevents you from flying to your destination as long as you buy the plan before the storm is ID's and given a name by the U.S. Weather Service. All valauble against potential screwups......John

    on July 30, 2010 at 7:25 am Reply
  • Insured if your boss fires you? That's something I've never seen before! Nice :) As always, it's vital to read the small print and check it against your own needs. As everyone knows, Linda and I use WorldNomads, but they're not the right fit for everyone. Make sure you do your research, as you don't want to assume anything is covered.

    on July 30, 2010 at 8:23 am Reply
  • We had an interesting insurance conundrum when traveling back to Atlanta this time. We live in Argentina and don't carry any US health insurance, but are technically US citizens based in Atlanta. World Nomads only covers you 100 miles or more away from your home, so we weren't eligible for their domestic travel policy. But since we're not Argentine citizens, we don't qualify for their international travel policy either. I ended up going for temporary coverage in the US through a regular insurance carrier. It only covers emergencies and nothing travel related, but I didn't want to find out too late that we're not really covered by our policy.

    on July 30, 2010 at 8:39 am Reply
  • That's the kind of problem we faced when returning to New Zealand. Legally, we're now residents there because we own a business in New Zealand (Indie Travel Media Ltd) but since we're not there for the requisite time period, we are not classed as residents in some areas of law. Really confusing; and always best to take a clearly-cut option.

    on July 30, 2010 at 12:32 pm Reply
  • There are many reasons to get travel insurance when traveling. In the UK, for instance, not being familiar with people who drive on the wrong side of the road can confuse the pedestrian into making a wrong move. In Moscow the way people drive, well, is very dangerous. One NEVER knows what the future holds so it is best to be prepared. Alan

    on November 12, 2010 at 10:19 am Reply

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