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Travel Insurance – Just A Piece of Paper, or A Lifesaver? My Best Medical, Health, Safety and Trip Cancellation Tips!

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You’ve thrown a dart onto a map and you’re going where it lands, even if it falls on Afghanistan, Somalia or Iraq – and have checked out your country’s travel alerts and warnings

You’ve booked your cheap arse flights on some dodgey low cost airline.

Duct Tape Uses - Aeroplane
Ever flown Duct Tape Airlines?

And you’ve packed your backpack with all sorts of useless crap that you don’t need.

But there’s something you think may or may not need – Travel Insurance!

I’m a little bit crazy, but I don’t muck around when it comes to making sure I don’t come home in an airlines’ ‘Coffin Class Cabin’.

Sure, the topic of travellers insurance is ‘drier than a Pommie’s bathmat‘ (*yawn* I hear you say), but it’s actually pretty important, especially if you manage to land yourself into a bit of trouble overseas that wasn’t your fault or out of your control.

First of all…

What is Travel Insurance Exactly?

  • Well, you can jokingly define travel insurance as you taking a bet out with an insurance company, and regardless of the outcome of your travels, you lose…
Travel Insurance Means You Take A Bet Out With An Insurance Company, And Regardless Of The Outcome, You Lose

That means you lose if nothing happens because you’ve paid out some money, and you lose if something happens and claim on your travel insurance policy because you’ve probably lost something important – like your health.

But better to pay for something and not use it rather than not paying for something and wishing that you had!

Your premium is based on your risk profile. Things like your age, any pre-existing medical conditions that might affect your claim, and where you are going. Actually, you probably won’t be covered for anything if you’re planning an Iraq sightseeing tour, but that might also be the case if you walk into the crazy neighbourhoods of first world countries too.

Anyway, here is a risk map for you to take into account for your next holiday. Ranging from Green (A vacation with Grandma) to Red (could be your last trip).

If you’re going to the red places, think again because no one will probably cover you for any claims made if you visit.

World Risk Map

But I’ll give you a multiple choice question, you pick the most correct answer!

You tell me!

Travel Insurance is:

a) a piece of paper that you pay for that you’ll probably never use

b) a waste of money that I could reallocate into my beer budget

c) obsolete because I’ll just ask my parents or friends to bail me out if something goes wrong

d) an alternative to crowdfunding my medical expenses if something bad happens to me, or

e) a way to protect yourself from a number of rather unfortunate scenarios related to travel, including a medical issue, flight cancellations, and losing your smartphone so you can’t take selfie’s anymore.

Don’t be silly, you know that e) is definitely the correct answer (and if you think selfies are the most important part of that answer, then you’re pretty vain).

If you answered anything else, you’ll probably be up for a Darwin Award one day! That’s because I’ll be the one nominating you!

Who Should Take Out Travel Insurance?

Travel Insurance Tips - Medical, Delays, Cancellations, Adventure, Safety

Do you travel overseas at all, either for business or pleasure? Then maybe you should take it out. Even if it’s just a basic policy that covers you for medical expenses and hospital treatment. The last thing you want to happen is to scramble for funds you don’t have to pay for potentially life saving treatment.

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Plus, you’d want to visit the best medical professionals going around.

Would you love to see this doctor? I don’t think so..

Even if he is a casino specialist.

Medical Assistance In Africa

If you’re from the United States, you’ll know what I mean because you almost need to donate a kidney and/or other organs to pay for treatment there, even if you’re a citizen!

Luckily for me, I’ve never claimed for anything on my travel insurance…yet… (touch wood). That just shows that the odds of something bad travelling are pretty similar to the odds of something bad happening at home.

The worst thing that’s happened to me injury wise when travelling was that I cracked a rib going sandboarding over a four wheel drive track in Namibia. I didn’t claim anything on that, I was just sore for a few weeks and took a few paracetamols.

But check out the story about my sister who had her arm clipped and broken by a mini bus taxi in Mozambique.

Do you reckon she saw that coming? I don’t think so!

And that’s just a fact of life. Sometimes, you just don’t know what’s around the corner.

Why Take Out Travel Insurance?

Well, your government isn’t going to bail you out when something goes arse up (even thought you’ve donated a lifetime of money to them) because you’re going to cost way too much money and the taxpayer won’t want to pay for your misadventures.

That’s because travel is a privilege and not a right, and if you can afford to travel, you can afford buying your piece of travel insurance paperwork.

Backpacker Travel Insurance

Here are some scenarios where it would be a pretty damn good idea to have a travel insurance policy.

What Could Go Wrong If I Don’t Take Out Travel Insurance?

Statistically speaking, chances are that on the majority of trips, nothing will go wrong. Good news doesn’t make headlines.

But if something does go wrong, a crapload could go very, very wrong.

You would definitely need travel insurance if one of the following happens:

  • Getting sick, say from food poisoning. Probably avoid these places like the plague. Because you might be actually ingesting the plague if you eat there.
Fast Food When Travelling
Did you know that traveller’s diarrhoea is hereditary? Because in runs in your jeans..
Philippines Flooding From Typhoons
  • Terrorism events
Kim Jong Il  - Team America World Police
  • Death of a family member and you have to fly home. That is, a very close blood relative, not just anyone!

Check out my interview with Dr Deb – The Travel Doctor and Brooke Norton about Medical Repats and Flight Nurses to read about some first hand experiences of what happens when you do, and don’t have travel insurance. Things like someone’s parents having to sell the house to bring their kid home when they don’t have it. Unfortunately, a travel related disease does not include jet lag – that’s a first world problem!

I’m not trying to scare the bejesus out of you, but you definitely don’t want to be stranded if something happened.

How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?

As for me, I’m a bit of a tightwad when it comes to saving money. However, I won’t compromise my health for obvious reasons, so I really don’t care if I lose all of my crap as long as I come home in one piece.

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The travel insurance policy cost is affected by a multitude of factors – such as where you are going, how long for, how old you are, how healthy you are, and if you’re doing anything risky. The cost is worked out by a complex algorithm almost as complicated as the Facebook Terms of Use that spits out a price after you fill out all of the information.

That’s OK, I’ll Skip The Cost. Why Not Use GoFundMe if something goes wrong?

Seriously, take some responsibility for your life and stop bludging off the rest of the sympathetic world.

People are going to eventually get sick of people who rely on the internet and other people’s wallets for bailout money! Don’t risk it!

What If I Do Something Stupid?

Then you’re pretty much screwed. If you get injured because you were under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or some other illicit substance, then forget claiming any costs associated with that scenario and you’re on your own.

Just remember Mr Mackey from South Park (‘Drugs Are Baaaaaaaad, MMMMMMKay!’) and no, you can’t see Doctor Bong just because he has a cool name!)

Possibly The Best Doctor Name In The World..

Riding scooters in Thailand after way too many beers is a no no.

You’re not exactly a master of transport and logistics like this person:

Chicken Transport

If you don’t do something in your own country that’s shonky, don’t do it overseas!

Also, Know What Is Covered and What Isn’t

Let’s face it, travel insurance companies are a for profit business. Just like every other business in the world. If they covered “everything”, they’d go out of business quick fast because people would literally claim for anything, such as repetitive strain injury from taking too many selfies.

That’s why their policies are tightly scoped, specific, and water tight like a duck’s arse when it comes to what you can claim on. The thing is, if you’re doing the right thing, and something bad happens, then you should be all good.

Their best customers are the ones that pay for a piece of paper (i.e. your travel insurance policy) and don’t claim. You know, the low risk ones! Hopefully, that’s you!

What If I Need to Go Cruising, Skiing or do Adventurous Stuff?

You might have to pay a bit extra. But not that much. Just so you can be covered for doing fun stuff like this.

Adventure Travel Insurance

I mean if something goes wrong here, you’d just want to have your remains repatriated and you won’t really care anymore!

And statistically speaking, skiing and snowboarding do have more claims associated with these activities, so that’s why you need to pay more to cover the risk to the insurance company.

Ironically, this snow sign from Japan is pretty close to the truth!

Ski Travel Insurance Meme

When Do I Need To Book Travel Insurance?

Usually, before you need to travel. But just do it!

If you book further out, you might pay a bit more to cover the cancellation risk, but as for me, I usually do it a couple of weeks before I head off.

As mentioned before, I care most about the medical and emergency assistance. If I can’t afford to lose something, I don’t take it with me.

What if I need to Make A Travel Insurance Claim?

There are a lot of shonky people out there who will try to scam anything for money, so you need to go through the proccesses and procedures so that the travel insurance company knows your claim is legit.

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Keep as much evidence as possible – such as medical records, receipts, police reports and photographs. If you need to be evacuated or brought home in an emergency, then you’ll need to contact the travel insurance company ASAP to get you the hell out of there.

There are many situations where you cannot claim – for example, known events such as ash cloud, or pandemics like the Coronavirus.

If your circumstances meant that you could possibly quality for a Darwin Award, then the chances of having your claim paid are pretty close to zero, as unlike other professions and scenarios, travel insurance companies won’t reward stupidity!

Which leads me to some:

Funny Travel Insurance claims!

It’s amazing what people try to claim on their travel insurance. What’s funnier is that some of them are actually paid out.

Here are some examples:

  • A father claiming for the emotional damage her daughters bad haircut caused her, ruining the holiday for the whole family (rejected)
  • Paint damage from cows licking the hire car (paid)
  • Having clothes stolen by monkeys (paid)
  • A failed romance and a broken heart ruined and Australian woman’s trip (rejected)
  • Parachutist lands on tent and destroys it and everything inside (rejected)
  • Broken nose after a man was distracted by a group of women in bikinis and he ended up walking straight into a bus shelter (paid)
  • Having a wedding dress catch on fire because the bride was standing too close to the barbecue (paid)
  • Medical expenses incurred after a heart attack in West Africa (paid), but not the actual trip to the brothel where it occurred (rejected)

And finally, it’s time for some…

Travel Insurance Jokes!

Some of these I actually made up myself?

  • Did you hear about the travel blogger who made an expensive medical claim on his travel insurance because he had the crap beaten out of him? He mistakenly said that he wanted to tap someone’s wife instead of their Wi-Fi
  • Needing travel insurance is like needing a parachute. If it isn’t there the first time, chances are you won’t be needing it again. Ironically, you might be skydiving when you’re travelling too…
  • I need to make a travel insurance claim because I’m suffering eye damage from trying to read the fine print!
  • How can you tell if an travel insurance underwriter is extroverted? When they talk to you, they look at your shoes instead of theirs!
  • Travel Insurance is a great way to see how creative you can be with the truth!

And finally, just to keep the lawyers happy…

* This silly article about travel insurance was obviously meant to be a piss take and isn’t meant to be treated as actual advice to be acted upon in the ‘real’ world. Since lawyers take the fun out of everything with their disclaimers, I’m taking the fun out of them with my own. You really need to see if any travel insurance product you buy is suitable for your needs. Really, you should take responsibility for your life and take out adequate insurance for your travels because your government ain’t going to bail you out, and your family or friends probably doesn’t have enough money to! 

Check out more at my page on Backpacker Travel Insurance!

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