Travel Insurance | Reviews and useful tips for travellers
When taking complex trips abroad, buying a travel insurance is highly recommended. There are countless options available to travellers, mostly based on country of residence. You can buy insurance from local or international providers, with partial, complete or conditional coverage, for likely or unlikely events. It is a very common practice for online travel agencies such as Expendia and airlines to offer travel insurance at time of booking, and the option is usually available just before you press the final confirmation button. This is one of the most effective travel insurance sales channels as travellers often opt to spend a little cash on top of the air fares they book. Buying travel insurance along with the airfare is the most common way of securing protection during your trip. However, this is also a risky one as you don’t have enough time to focus on the small prints.
And small prints are those which define any travel insurance policy. In this article we are going to look into the insurance product offered by World Nomads, probably the most popular travel insurance offered globally, which is also trusted by Lonely Planet, Rough Guides, TourRadar, Eurail and other reputed travel companies.
World Nomads offers comprehensive coverage, including medical and dental expenses, emergency assistance, evacuation and transportation, pre-trip cancelation and interruption, resumption, flight delay, missed connections (for explorer policies), injuries as a result of practicing adventure sports, thefts, rental cars damage, etc.
World Nomads is a rather universal product as it can be purchased by travellers from over 140 countries including all EU countries and USA. Premium pricing is formulated by length of stay, destination countries and country of residence, traveller’s age. The limits are very high and provide true peace of mind. As an example, medical expenses for the standard policy can be up to 3,500,000 Euro.
A good example of what is covered for a weekly vacation in Thailand for a UK resident you can find below:
Before looking into the small prints, we would like to give you more insights on how the insurance business works in general. Let's be clear for one thing - no insurance policy is ticket to paradise. World Nomads is not an exception either. The fact that you have an insurance policy in hand doesn’t mean that you can skip flights, leave luggage unattended, be careless with your rental car or neglect medical conditions that can lead to serious consequences related to your health. No insurance company will simply cover expenses or act as your travel concierge. Such assistance is extremely expensive. Unless insurance companies keep costs under control, premium prices would be very high and unaffordable for the average traveller. As a result less people will afford insurance and more people will be exposed to risks. This is how the insurance world functions and you need to be aware of this. The fine prints define all covered situations in detail, and we highly recommend that you read them before purchasing a policy.
The first fact we would like to reveal is that in order to provide a universal product to travellers from over 140 nationalities World Nomads uses local underwriters. Each underwriter offers different service levels, terms and conditions. A World Nomads policy holder from USA visiting Thailand may have different policy terms than a policy holder from Greece visiting Thailand. Both travellers need to contact difference underwriters in case of identical incident. Hence they may be required to present different documents and the outcome may differ.
Excess. Most underwriters charge an excess fee for handling a claim. The traveller from Greece would be charged EUR 70 for a filing medical claim, and for the same claim a traveller from UK will be charged GBP 75. So if have a minor injury in Thailand and the hospital charges you EUR 50, there will be no point in submitting a claim. Similar excess fees apply to most of the other types of covered incidents, for example missed flight connections. Many travellers are surprised to find out about these charges only after incidents happen, but in fact the excess fees are clearly indicated in the policy terms. It is surprising, but these charges are in fact of favour of the travellers. They allow insurance companies to maintain their support resources and keep the costs under control.
Conditions. Let’s look at a popular covered event - Pre-trip cancellation. Suppose you have paid for airline tickets and accommodation at your destination. These expenses are non-refundable, but a personal event occurs and you cannot travel. The insurance company will not simply refund your expenses without a valid reason. It is likely that the covered events for pre-trip cancellation can only be medical conditions that require hospitalisation. That said, an ordinary flu may not qualify for refund, even if you are unfit to travel. Here you can find a good example of the World Nomads detailed policy terms & conditions.
Claim process. Irrespective of the policy conditions, pay due attention to the claims process. As soon as you are aware of an incident, call the designated numbers and seek assistance or advice. Apart from phone contact, whenever possible, insist on written communication. Committments in writing are harder to break than promises over the phone. Document everything, take pictures. Collect receipes for any relevant expenses you incur. Sometimes calling from abroad can be costly too. Receipts from your telecom operator (for calling the underwriters) can add up to the bill too. Broken suitcases, flight delays and many other events are best documented by pictures. Use your cell phone camara and take pictures, it's free and can save you a lot of hassle. Be precise and punctual and you are likely to receive the same attitude back.