Ladies and gents, it’s time we took a deep dive into travel insurance.
Why? Because it really, truly sucks if you have an emergency abroad and don’t have it, and not all insurance is created equal. There have been horror stories of people being held in hospitals, almost like hostages, for not paying outstanding bills, or worse, not getting care at all.
But if you need to be airlifted out, must have a family member flown to you, or you simply get sick on the road and don’t want to have to suffer when you could get care, then travel insurance is a no-brainer. It’s best if you never have to use it, but when you need it, it can literally save your trip (and self).
Common Fears & Issues While Traveling
Back in March, heavy morning cloud cover barred planes from leaving Patagonia as scheduled. One of the women I was traveling with missed her onward connection back to New York, which she’d booked separately and would otherwise have lost out on. Instead she booked a new ticket, submitted the necessary paperwork to World Nomads, and got a refund on her trip.
This is one example of why travel insurance is so useful, apart from medical needs. If your trip gets canceled due to weather, your travel partner getting ill, you getting ill or injured before you go, or, especially, during your trip, you don’t stand to lose thousands the way you would if you were uninsured.
Why should you want coverage for these things?
You could risk it and travel without insurance. I’d be lying if I said I have never done that. Once I had to visit the doctor in Vietnam and, since I was uninsured, paid $100 out of pocket for the visit and medications. It cost me about the same as insurance would have for the entire 4 months that I was away. That was risky of me, because had I experienced a bigger problem, I could have been out a lot more money than that.
I’ve had friends need ambulance rides in the US which cost over $5k without insurance, met divers who needed compression chambers after diving emergencies, and recently had a family member cancel her trip when her travel companion fell ill. She had insurance and got her money back, but he didn’t, and had to eat the cost.
The worst case scenario if you have insurance is that nothing goes wrong and you spent the money just for the security, but the worst case scenario without insurance on your trip is much, much more dire. It’s possible to get denied care entirely – yikes.
Why I use World Nomads over other companies
No insurance is perfect. If you want to get reimbursed, your claim has to include all of the necessary paperwork and qualify under the coverage they offer. I’m not a fan of any insurance company, to be completely honest with you, but I still get insurance for all of the reasons mentioned so far in this post.
So why World Nomads? I choose this one because it covers activities I love that most other insurance won’t cover, and they have paid out claims put forth by friends of mine consistently.
I free dive, hike at high altitudes, skydive, scuba dive, and more on my trips. World Nomads is my go-to because of both the comprehensiveness and specificity of the coverage. These guys cover so many activities, from unicycling and dog sledding to swimming with whales and running of the bulls. It’s also helpful that they clearly state which activities are covered by each of their two plans, Standard and Explorer. You can use the following tool to look at pricing:
So, for example, say you’re planning a trip to Bali to go surfing, sailing, and scuba diving. You would be able to go on the World Nomads website, look at their detailed lists of activities to find your specific ones, and determine if you’d need to purchase the Standard Plan or the Explorer Plan to make sure that everything you’d be doing on your trip would be covered.
World Nomads isn’t only great for their coverage of bizarre activities, though. They also allow you to purchase more coverage quickly and easily if you run out while abroad (like if you decided to extend your trip at the last minute). They also have multilingual emergency assistance available 24/7.
All in all, I like that World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance designed by travelers for travelers. Having the activities I love covered makes this my go-to for those reasons.
The Coverage You Need Based on the Way You Travel
How do you like to travel? Are you adventurous, or do you prefer to play on the safer side when you go abroad? Does your ideal trip look like yoga on the beach, or cliff diving and hang gliding? World Nomads clearly breaks down the insurance plan you need based on the activities you plan on participating in. Figure out the coverage you need for your favorite activities below.
For the typical trip:
If you like to do pretty normal things like:
- Horseback Ride
- Paddle Board
- White Water Raft
- Do Yoga
- Play Sports
then World Nomads’ Standard Plan should be just fine for you. Nearly any normal activity you would participate in while traveling is covered under this plan, whereas the Explorer Plan comes in handy for the activities that are more the style of “living on the edge.”
While both the Standard Plan and Explorer Plan cover up to $100,000 in emergency medical and dental costs, the difference lies in the daily cost of the insurance plan you choose, as well as the total dollar amount of coverage you’ll receive for a number of other situations such as stolen gear or delayed baggage. While the daily cost differs depending on the specifics of your trip, you’ll pay, on average, 60 to 75% more for the Explorer Plan than you would for the Standard Plan, but if you’ll be participating in risky activities, your safety is without a doubt worth the extra cost.
For the Winter Olympian
Most normal winter activities are covered under World Nomads’ Standard Plan, including:
- ice fishing
- skiing & snowboarding (resort/cross-country)
- even “polar plunging”
However, you’ll want to purchase coverage with the Explorer Plan if you want to:
- go backcountry skiing or alpine ski touring
- work as a ski instructor abroad
- free-style or stunt snowboard
- or try other dangerous snow activities
For the Beach Lover
The following activities are covered by the Standard Plan:
- scuba diving up to 165 feet
- sea canoeing
However, the following more extreme activities are only covered by the Explorer Plan:
- scuba diving up to 165 feet (commercial/instructor/guide)
- free diving
- shark cage diving
For the Serious Athlete
- kick boxing
- mixed martial arts
- certain kinds of running or triathlon
For the Thrill Seeker
- cave diving
- cliff jumping/diving
- rappelling/rock climbing
- motocross/motor racing
- hang gliding
You can compare the plans and price here.
Important Things to Know
There are a few important things to know that make this insurance work better for you. The first is that booking more time upfront is better than breaking it up. If you know that you’ll be on a 6-month trip, then paying for the full 6 months upfront works out much cheaper than doing 3 now, and 3 later. Plus, you don’t want to let the insurance lapse. If anything happens when you’re not insured, it won’t be covered (that’s standard industry practice).
Also keep in mind that this insurance will only cover you if you’re over 100 miles from home. If you come home for further medical attention, travel insurance typically assumes you’re using your home coverage once again. This is important to keep in mind if you come home to get your treatment completed (you can always call them to get more info on your specific case).
Finally, this is mostly health insurance and isn’t the only policy you should have if you have lots of expensive gear. I’ve learned through the years that the only way to insure your gear if you’re a professional photographer or blogger (like me) is to get a separate policy for your gear, and they ain’t cheap. World Nomads will, however, cover most personal electronics, like phones and cheaper cameras, up to a small amount, provided you can prove the value (receipt), have a police report, and can prove you had it with you (so take pictures with your electronics on the road just to cover yourself).
There are more exclusions that are wise to read about before taking the plunge and purchasing, which is typical of all insurance. All that said, for coverage of the more adventurous activities that I love, I like World Nomads the most and have been recommending it for years, both to my readers and to those who come on my BMTM Adventures tours.
I hope this guide helped you to better understand the World Nomads option when considering which travel insurance you want to purchase for your trip. For active types like me, it’s the best way to make sure that I can get a policy that covers me when many would not.
Finally, in the spirit of full disclosure, World Nomads has not paid me for this review nor asked me to write it, but I like to share about the companies that I use myself on this blog, and if you make a purchase through a link on this page, I will get a small commission at no extra cost whatsoever to you. Thanks, as always, for supporting.