Travel Insurance: Is it Really Necessary?

Travel Insurance: Is it Really Necessary?

Unplanned incidents are a natural part of the travel experience.

Sometimes they’re benign. But not always.

This begs the questions (and hints at the answer): is travel insurance necessary?

Necessary or No? The World of Travel Insurance

If your definition of necessary is anything more than ‘I’ll deal with things as they come and face consequences later’, then maybe it’s not.

Most of us, though, want to cover the incidentals.

Hippo Bites - Good reason for insurance
                                                     Like visits to safety-casual Thai zoos

More than that, many of us are long-term travelers or straight up digital nomads. Travel insurance is no longer confined to the domain of vacationers and tourists. It’s necessary for the industry to accommodate the many kinds of travelers in our global landscape.

Insurance companies have been paying attention to developments in the travel scene. There are now thousands of plans out there to cover everything from missed connections to cage diving with great whites.

Shark attack insurance
                                              But who needs a cage when you’re insured?

With so many possibilities, plans, and risks out there in the world, it would be foolish not to deem travel insurance necessary in today’s world.

But I’ve Never Had Travel Insurance!

Welcome, intrepid nomad, to the club.

I’ve personally never opted into travel insurance. Hell, I’ve thrown the dice and rented cars without purchasing the agency’s insurance or even having my own.

The longer you live on the edge, the bigger the chance you’ll fall off.

Remote Sichuan Mountains, good place to have travel insurance
Especially when you solo up random peaks in the middle of nowhere

If you’re like me then you’ve probably had close calls.

Why I’m Opting into Travel Insurance Now

I lived in China for the past 2 1/2 years.

If you’ve been paying attention at all, you’ve seen there’s a new thing going around China and the world. It’s called the Novel Coronavirus.

Three weeks ago, my Chinese girlfriend and I made a plan. We were going to get out of China before things got worse.

Leaving China uninsured

What did we do?

We bought plane tickets for a week later, February 1st.

On February 2nd, the US banned all foreign nationals who had been to China within 2 weeks. Many flights from the mainland were canceled or rerouted that day.

Beijing Airport
                                                                       Empty Beijing Airport

Thus, we narrowly escaped the mainland. At worst we would have been stuck in the danger zone for quite a while. At best we would have paid an egregious amount to fly to Thailand, wait two weeks, and then fly to the US.

A Near Miss

If I’d have had travel insurance, my missed flights would have been covered. Hell, I may have even been eligible for an evacuation from across the globe, with a monetary cap of $500,000.

You just can’t plan for everything. Even the most careful will be impacted by things like the coronavirus. When things go south a long ways from home you need someone in your corner.

Does your travel insurance cover spiders?
Preferably someone who keeps you away from jungle spiders

That’s why, in my newly enlightened opinion, travel insurance is totally necessary. The need for it only goes up the longer/farther you are from home.

Though this was a near miss, I’ve had many total misses, including:

Rinjani Volcano before agung eruption

This is not to mention all the times I narrowly escaped injury/hospitalization. But those are stories for another time…

How Can I Choose a Plan?

There are as many types of travel insurance plans as there are types of travelers. 

Many of you will be well-served simply by paying the extra $30 and opting into the insurance plan offered at the end of your plane ticket deal (most if not all third-party sites offer insurance with their flight deals).

Here at Chasing Zeniths, though, I tend to privilege adventure travel. 

If you read the fine print in most travel insurance contracts, you’ll notice something: they don’t cover anything that happens to you if you willfully partake in ‘dangerous’ activities. 

These activities can often be a lot less adventurous than you think. I’ve seen plans that don’t cover hiking, wildlife attacks in any context, swimming in the ocean, etc. 

Not to mention those of us who ski, climb, paraglide, or engage in extreme sports. 

Sea kayaking without travel insurance

Remember that travel insurance isn’t a catch-all. Many plans don’t cover even simple adventures, and most don’t cover the kind of adventures I write about here. 

So How do I get my Adventures Covered?

It’s during ‘dangerous’ activities or extreme sports that you’re most likely to get hurt while traveling. 

With this in mind, you’d be doing yourself a disservice by opting into a plan that won’t cover these. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re out for a week or if you’re living abroad. Anyone who frequents the outdoors and values their peace of mind should look into Insured Nomads.

Insured Nomads offer two plans: The ‘Standard Plan’ and the ‘Explorer Plan’. 

The standard plan already covers many of the bases that other travel insurance providers refuse to. You can ski at a resort, dive with an instructor, or go surfing in sketchy waters without worrying about coverage. 

The explorer plan is more suited to hardcore enthusiasts. If you’re a rock climber, distance runner, martial artist, or ski mountaineer than you’ll need to opt into the explorer plan.

climbing is something that could benefit from travel insurance

You’ll be hard-pressed to find an activity outside of pirating freight vessels that isn’t covered by this plan. 

I’m not only obliged to recommend this company as a brand-ambassador. It was my own experience of nearly missing one of the last flights to the US from China that made me delve into the travel insurance world. 

When I saw that Insured Nomads would repatriate and evacuate with up to a half-million dollar price tag, I knew they would be best for the sketchiest of situations. Their coverage of all the other extremes only made the package more attractive. 

Travel Insurance: A Final Word

It’s really a no-brainer: If you’re leaving your home country, get insured.

The expenses you can accrue on your own can range from irrelevant to astronomical. Run-of-the-mill tourism is easily covered by clicking that little box at the end of a plane-ticket purchase and adding $30. 

Real exploration and adventure, however, requires more forethought. If you’ve taken the time to plan a trip with risks then at least reward yourself with some peace of mind and get yourself a plan that will cover the activities most likely to cause you problems. 

2 Replies to “Travel Insurance: Is it Really Necessary?”

  1. It wasn’t necessary for me in 2020 : )… but I’ll be back on it again this year. Normally I hate paying for insurance because I’ve never used it… but if that one big medical bill does happen I know it’ll be worth it in the end.

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