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Why you should get travel insurance
Backpacking Europe » Before You Go
They say that if you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel, but that’s a logical fallacy. Nevertheless, you should get travel insurance, you bloody idiot.
For a long time we thought of travel insurance as a sort of gambling for wimps. A way for the less intrepid among us to waste their travelling funds before even hitting the road. But then we started travelling and had stuff stolen or got sick and realised that travel insurance probably ain’t that bad an idea. You can afford to travel if you can’t afford travel insurance, but travel insurance does provide a nice little safety net for brave, adventurous, reckless backpackers – and if you’re here, reading this, that means you.
What does travel insurance cover?
This really does depend on your insurance company and level of cover, and to be perfectly honest travel insurance deals are very rarely as great as they appear outside of the small print. Make sure that you read all policies carefully and make sure that you won’t fall foul of any loopholes. Good travel insurance will cover:
- Emergency medical treatment: your travel insurance won’t allow you to travel the world and have all of your pre-existing conditions seen to by exotic doctors, but if you hurt yourself, or fall ill, your travel insurance will cover you up to a specified amount. The higher the amount, the more expensive the insurance, but to make sure you’re not underinsured when you need medical support a limit of over $100,000 should cover just about everything.
- Evacuation in the event of natural or other disaster: things happen in the world and sometimes those things will require you to get the hell out of wherever you are. A lot of the time, most of the time, these evacuations are your responsibility and they can be very costly/difficult to get on. Travel insurance will assist in this.
- Lost, damaged or stolen goods: tourists, even backpackers, are targets of pickpockets, burglars and other assorted thieves. Fortunately these robberies are generally, if not always, non violent; unfortunately anything stolen was most likely needed and treasured because when you packed your backpack you only brought the necessities. Well, at least your insurance will see you reimbursed.
- Trip cancellation, interruption or delay: maybe you booked an excursion with someone who wasn’t Stoke Travel and they went out of business. Perhaps you missed a flight on a different itinerary due to an earlier delay. Well, your insurance might reimburse you for that.
A little mishap can mean debt for life
Things can get very expensive very quickly – ̣especially medical expenses. A broken leg can easily head into the tens of thousands of euro and more and look, people hurt themselves and get sick all the time, even in safe backpacking destinations like Europe. You don’t want an otherwise minor incident haunt you financially for the rest of your days, nor do you want a more major incident be resolved in economic terms, rather than according to the best available treatment at the time. You’re probably going to end your trip in some kind of debt, be in credit card, parental, or otherwise, let’s not add medical expenses to the list.
You don’t want to be a cyber-beggar – that’s just embarrassing
We see it happen more and more often, a traveller without insurance falls into some kind of mishap and needs the financial help of their online community of friends and family. Many of these pleas for crowdfunding help could be avoided with even the most basic cover, and sometimes rightfully elicits responses along the lines of, If you can’t afford travel insurance then you can’t afford to travel. Don’t let your social media acquaintances, people who you haven’t spoken to since high school – and for good reason, get one over you because you hit the road sans insurance.
Health insurance for Europe
Europe’s health insurance is famously great, for its citizens. For people from afar, well, European governments aren’t going to leave you dying in the street, but they will charge you for their services. Also, you could spend a lot of time waiting in foreign hospitals being overlooked due to the language barrier, while travel insurance would have you in the private hospital system.
How to buy travel insurance
You have to buy travel insurance before you set out on your trip. You can’t take the risk, then got robbed/sick and decide to get insurance afterwards. Make sure you thoroughly research your plan, and read the fineprint, and be sure that it covers things that you need, like 24 hour assistance so someone from your insurance company can help you find a doctor at any hour. Shop around and compare prices and coverage and select the coverage that’s best for you.
Best travel insurance for Europe
There are plenty of insurers out there offering a multitude of policies. Use an aggregating website, like comparetravelinsurance.com.au, to see all of their offerings alongside each other. Travel insurance is usually nation specific, but some brands can be found across multiple markets. A lot of people use World Nomads, but just compare and choose the policy best for you.
“I never took travel insurance, ever, was always so skint before setting off that I didn’t think I could afford the expense, and apart from that I considered myself to be a world-class traveller who could get out of any situation with a bit of charm. Well, when I was at Oktoberfest, and got pneumonia, I learned the hard way that a few nights in hospital and a little bit of medicine costs more than €5000. The legendary traveller had to give his parents a call to cover that one – and i’m not even sure they were just happy that I was alive after forking out the dough.” – Phil, accounts, 28, New Zealand