Righto...travel insurance. Firstly i'd like to start by saying everyone's needs and circumstances are different and every insurance company differs in it's 'fine print' from country to country. However what I want to do here is highlight some of the issues I have found out spending many, many hours trying to find travel/medical insurance that would cover us for our trip (both initially, and renewing once on the road), and name a few companies that I found who might be worth considering depending on your needs...but READ the policies carefully. I cannot tell you which insurance(s) to take out...that is your decision.
So, what are the options? Travel insurance? Medical insurance? MedEvac? Search & Rescue? I had no idea what we needed when we first set out on our long-term trip, and because we were only meant to be travelling for a year I didn't even consider choosing a company that would allow me to re-new the policy after a year. The other thing was that I had all of these scare-mongorers making me feel that we would be kidnapped, held for randsom etc, so I think we went a bit OTT on insurance at the beginning. While the risks will vary depending on where you are travelling, do your research first. It's also worth checking your goverment for travel advisories, e.g. the Foreign Office in the UK, Buerau of Consular Affairs in the US, Dept of Foreign Affairs in Australia etc. as many insurances are invalid in 'red' areas, or areas where they advise against all travel.
What you need will depend on where you are travelling, how you are travelling and how far off the beaten track you plan to go. When you are searcing for various cover, write down a list of priorities for what your plan needs to cover... I imagine that medical will be at (or very near) the top of the list, as should the shit hit the fan, this is the one thing that could be potentially financially crippling depending on where you are in the world, or result in you not getting adequate medical treatment when it's most needed.
Things you may want to check when looking at various policies:
Do they cover repatriation?
Do they cover you to drive the vehicle you will be driving? This is more difficult when riding a motorcycle - be VERY careful!
Do they cover MedEvac?
Do they cover your valuables and if so, what are the rules if you need to claim i.e. maximum claim per item, need for receipts/photos etc?
Do they cover previous conditions and longterm illnesses?
Do they cover you 'off-road'?
Do they cover you above a certain altitude?
Will they allow you to renew?
Can you take out cover when you're already abroad?
Do you have the option to be treated in the country of injury or are they likely to fly you home for treatment?
Will they repatriate your vehicle if you are flown back to your country of citizenship for medical treatment?
If you have rescue/extraction cover, will they actually extract you unless there's an official report / travel warning issued by your home country or the one you are travelling in?
There were a couple of general questions I wanted to ask to an impartial insurance specialist, and so I talked to Simon Wilkinson at NowCompare.com. Here's a summary of what he said (in quotation marks"") including some other research I did:
What is the difference between Travel Insurance, Medical Insurance, MedEvac and Search and Rescue / evacuation?
The MedEvac and evacuation "are simply forms of transport, not really medical care and certainly not insurance. Of course you would be stabilised by an emergency medical team while on route to a hospital but it is essentially just the means of travel. This comes with a bill at the end and some insurance policies include this as standard, and others have it as an add-on."
Travel insurance "is designed to be an emergency measure and the insurer will try to take the client back to their home country for treatment if this is more cost-effective for them. It is excellent for short trips such as holidays but it is not designed for people who live in a second country" (e.g. expats), however longer policies are available for people who are travelling long-term. It would not cover them in their home country. These policies tend to cover medical emergencies, cancellations, personal belongings etc.
Medical insurance "is (typically) an annual policy that gives varying level of protection" for medical cover. It does not tend to cover things that 'travel insurance' covers like cancellations, baggage loss, personal items etc. Useful for long term travellers and expats.
"NowCompare specialises in insurance for expats; people with no access to public sector treatment. These policies are designed for people who would have to pay for any treatment from the first moment they step into a country. The plans take into account that expats live in various countries for large parts of the year (as opposed to holiday tourism) and will cover them anywhere in the world. The major difference is that the insurers consider any location to be the clients ‘home’ and pay for treatment wherever they are for however long they need it. Whereas travel insurance will try to stabilise and repatriate, the expat insurance will not try to fly them ‘home’.
NowCompare are adept at helping a client determine what sort of policy would suit them better; travel, local medical or ‘expat’. We only broker expat policies but we are able to explain how each type will benefit a client."
Any other questions that people should ask themselves when seeking out an insurance policy?
"They should question whether they are speaking to someone impartial like NowCompare.com, or to a direct insurance agent who will try to steer them towards the specific products that they offer. At NowCompare.com we work with all of the major insurers and we have performed due diligence checks on any that we work with and recommend. It is in our interest to find our clients the most cost-effective insurance to meet their needs and can therefore offer the most impartial advice."
If you would like a quote or impartial advice from Simon at NowCompare.com then please contact Simon directly by clicking HERE. and quote 'Overlander Health' for a DISCOUNT. I do not earn any money out of this but you will get some money off!
Some companies that provide various types of cover are listed below (in alphabetical order). Many of these companies have been used by various types of travellers, many of whom are travelling by motorcycle or camper vans etc, however you need to check the policies carefully for what they actually cover, and often you need to choose add-ons to cover certain activities.
PLEASE NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list. There are a tonne of insurance companies that offer cover so look around. These are just the ones I found or people told me about (and thank you to the Horizons Unlimited community for their input). As the majority of those who offered information about their insurers were from the USA, UK, Australia and Canada, this is why several of the providers listed are limited to cover for those countries.
ADAC Gold - The site is primarily in German so I am guessing it is for germans, but it's worth checking out. They have a membership programme (see THIS link) and also a travel insurance policy available on THIS link with upto 24 months worth of cover available from what I can tell. If you speak German you will be able to make more sense of it than me!
Allianz Global Assistance - Apparently available up-to two years of travel. As always, please check options if riding a motorcycle especially if over 250cc. The initial link is to the USA Allianz, but it is available in many countries e.g. Australia Allianz, UK Allianz, Canada Allianz. You can easily search online if there is cover available for your country of residence.
Aussie Travel Cover - The name probably gives away the fact that this is travel insurance for Australians.
BCAA - For British Colombians only (insurance and breakdown cover available).
BUPA - Travel insurance and global health insurance for many nationalities.
Carole Nash - UK specialist Motorcycle travel insurance.
CGU Insurance - Travel insurance for Australians. Also you can cover some pre-existing conditions for an additional premium. Various packages depending on the countries you plan to travel in.
Diver's Alert Network - Offers travel insurance for USA and Canadian citizens, a good option if you plan on diving during your travels.
GEOS - MedEvac and/or Search & Rescue cover, commonly purchased when you have an InReach or Spot device, but can be purchased even if you do not have one of these devices. Also see the link at the bottom of this article for further information.
Global Rescue - Provides medical, evacuation and security services, and is apparantely available to all nationalities. They also provide travel insurance upto 90 days. Also see the link at the bottom of this article for further information. If taking out Global Rescue cover, please use the link on the Horizons Unlimited page (click the link and scroll down the page about half way) as this will benefit HU organisation.
HCC Atlas - Medical and MedEvac cover. It does not cover personal posessions like a standard travel insurance policy.
Holidaysafe - Full on travel insurance package, with specialist motorcyclist policies available. Also, you can cover several pre-existing conditions for an additional premium.
IMG - Travel and medical insurance for many nationalities, both travellers and expats.
MedJet Assist - MedEvac / medical transport cover. Also see the link at the bottom of this article for further information.
Navigator - Travel insurance policies. (Currently any cover options for motorcycling as main mode of transport can only be taken out if departing from your country of residence, not if you've already left home).
NowCompare.com - Impartial advice and specialists in expat medical / travel insurance for many nationalities. Click HERE to contact them for advice or a discounted quote.
Ripcord - Apparantely available for all nationalities and have various cover to choose from including medical, rescue and travel insurance packages. Also see the link at the bottom of this article for further information. If taking out Ripcord insurance, please use the link on the Horizons Unlimited page (click the link and scroll down the page about half way) as this will benefit the HU organisation.
Seven Corners - Travel and medical insurance. According to their website the cover all nationalities, but again, please check you are fully covered before taking out the policy.
STA World Travel Health Insurance - Good for student, teacher or youth travellers with a ISIC/IYTC/ITIC card. Their policies without posession of any of these cards appear to be World Nomad policies (no good for UK citizens with Motorcycling as your mode of transport/motorcycle touring).
TID (Travel Insurance Direct) - Travel insurance for Australians. They also have a good page to outline what is covered and what is not. Click HERE for a link.
Trailfinders - Travel insurance for Europeans. Policy details available here.
True Traveller - Travel insurance for Europeans, including cover for if you're already travelling.
World Nomads - Full on travel insurance package (WARNING TO UK MOTORCYCLISTS - They DO NOT currently cover UK or Irish citizens to travel by motorcycle as your main mode of transport or motorcycle touring, REGARDLESS of size of motorcycle and CANNOT be added at an additional cost). For more about World Nomads and to get a quote check out THIS link on PikiPikiOverland.com. Also see the link at the bottom of this article for further information on World Nomads.
Various Banks - I have put this separately as many people take policies out with their banks, however you really need to check what they cover. Often there's a lot of things they don't cover, especially if you are planning to travel by motorcycle, or doing anything slightly 'unusual'.
DON'T PRESUME because someone else has taken out a policy (particularly if they've never claimed) that they are correct about their cover... they may not have checked thoroughly before they took out the policy.
Some people rave about their travel insurance policies, however PLEASE CHECK that they cover you, especially if you are from a different country to the people recommending them, or if you're travelling differently.
DO NOT LIE to the insurance company. Is it really worth it if they find out the truth and then don't pay out? For example, if you're not in your country of residence when you start your policy and you say you were, is that going to pan out well if you're severely injured? Also, it's going to cost a lot anyway, and if you lie to save a hundred bucks for example, then you're conning yourself.
Most insurers only give you the actual wording of the policy AFTER you commit and then it might be too late. DO NOT buy your policy based on only the 'selling summary'.
Final Message: READ the policy wording carefully. If you are not 100% certain that the policy will cover you, particularly for medical issues, then ring them or e-mail them BEFORE you just take out the policy. The consequences if you don't and shit happens can be truly awful.
I am aware that some people decide to travel without insurance. That is their decision. This isn't something I'd personally recommend and I always travel with insurance.
In some countries you may not get the care you need if you don't have valid insurance, and if you don't have the funds in your account to pay, forget it. So, before you decide to save a buck by ditching the travel insurance, check what you are covered for in the countries you are travelling in should the worst happen, and if you do have insurance for your vehicle (e.g. SOAT in South America) check what that covers as well. It is likely to be different for each country.
Here is a link to another article written on the topic of travel, and very useful if you really are doing stuff off-the-beaten-track or extreme sports. It has some useful information about specific companies including Medjet Assist, GEOS Alliance, Global Rescue, Ripcord and World Nomads.
Please note: I do not make any money from any of the links included in this article nor do I advocate any one insurance company. This is written soley to make searching for insurance easier for fellow overlanders and to give you a few things to think about when trawling through all of the information.