Do you need travel insurance when you head out of the country? This is a question that I’ve either been asked or that you’ve asked yourself every time you purchased that plane ticket. Whether or not you need to insure your trip is a decision only you can make. But consider this: you packed a suitcase full of nice clothing, hiking shoes, sunglasses, etc. Heck, the suitcase itself might be worth $2-300! You have a smaller (or maybe even larger) bag for your electronics and camera equipment. Maybe, like me, you’re carting around a $1,500 drone.

Travel Insurance world map
Do you need travel insurance?

The truth is, if you add up everything you brought on a basic trip – even for just a few days, it can total several thousand dollars. Case in point: That iPhone you’re carrying will cost you over $600 to replace, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield doesn’t give a crap about it.

Does private insurance = travel insurance?

That’s a question people ask a lot too, and for me, it boils down to one phone call I made a few years ago (and a few since) when I called my insurance provider to ask them if I am covered for medical emergencies overseas. They said I am. But when I asked about the details of what’s covered and what’s not, they could never answer me. Never. Not once. I’d be willing to bet that you’d have the same experience.

Go ahead.
I’ll wait.
Make that call.

If you did pause here and call, I bet you experienced the same thing – a person who could say yes when you asked if you’re covered, but couldn’t answer anything about the details. When that happened to me, I decided it was worth it to look for a good travel insurance policy online.

Through Lonely Planet, I stumbled upon World Nomads. I learned that the company was started by travelers like me, so I “knew” they likely understood what I needed as far as a policy goes – trip cancellation, luggage protection, evacuation insurance, etc. And you likely won’t get any of this with your private insurer. That’s what was important to me.


Even if my insurer at home would cover some of my medical costs, I wanted to be sure that a dedicated travel insurance company was there to cover the rest. Because while Blue Cross might pay to set a broken arm, I seriously doubted that they would pay the cost to evacuate me from a remote village in Indonesia where there might not even be a doctor. And that could cost $50,000 or more, depending on how remote the location!

My travel insurance policies with World Nomads. Twenty since 2010.
I’ve bought 20 policies since 2010.

Making travel insurance claims

I’ve never had to make a travel insurance claim with my private insurer at home, thankfully. And if it’s anything like that phone call I made to ask about travel insurance benefits, I’m glad! But I have made a claim through World Nomads for a nearly $500 GoPro I lost on a boat in Lembongan, Indonesia.

The GoPro claim was simple. I got a note from the dive shop I was using that confirmed I lost it and where. I sent World Nomads that document and the receipt I had saved on Amazon. They paid my claim quickly, easily, and without any questions other than asking for the above documentation.

Fortunately, I have not had to make any serious claims for health emergencies. I hope I never have to. But if I ever do, I’m glad to say I always insure my trips with travel insurance from World Nomads. In fact, I’ve bought 20 policies through them since 2010.

We never leave home without it

I’m a Canadian citizen who has lived in the United States since 1999. Halef has been here since 1998. Even on occasions when we travel to Canada, we buy a policy through World Nomads. But I think it’s especially important to buy when you’re heading somewhere you know has a pretty sub-standard healthcare system. Earlier in 2016, a friend of mine had to go to the hospital because of what we thought was some pretty serious damage to his hand he got from being stung while diving. Fortunately, his doctor visit in Sorong, Indonesia only ended up costing about $20. But what if, instead of something that turned out to be non-serious, it was a serious sting that required evacuation to Jakarta – or even to Singapore ? It would have been tens of thousands.

And that’s where a good policy, like one purchased through World Nomads, can come into play.

Why buy travel insurance from World

  1. Backed by specialist insurers and global assistance partners
  2. Buy Online, even if you’ve already left home
  3. Extend and claim online while traveling
  4. Covers a range of adventure sports and activities
  5. Give a little back and support a community development project

Now, I’m not stupid. I know insurance is a business, and the business of every insurance company is to minimize payments and put those premiums toward their bottom line. But my experience so far buying travel insurance through World Nomads has been great. I’ll be buying from them for all my trips in the foreseeable future.

When is travel insurance not worth it?

There are very few cases, in my opinion, where it’s not. Having said that, there are hundreds of web sites out there who tell you travel insurance is a waste of money. And I’m positive that there are situations where it isn’t. But if you read further into them, you’ll notice that many of them come down to the same argument a lot of Americans use to avoid buying regular health insurance at home, “I’m generally pretty healthy.” In other words, the authors have accepted the risk based on the fact that, generally, they are healthy and can handle accidentally brushing their teeth with the tap water in a rustic little town in Central America. That’s a pretty lame excuse for not buying travel insurance. But still, there are times when you may not need it.

  • Credit Cards: I’ve recently acquired a Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card. It costs me $450 a year, and if I pay for my trip expenses with it, Chase says I am covered under their travelers insurance program. Although I am sure that’s true, I’ve yet to test it.
  • If you can afford to lose your pre-paid stuff: If you paid $800 for a non-refundable flight and put down a deposit on a hotel room and can afford to lose that, then perhaps the insurance isn’t worth it.
  • You’re rich: Goes without saying.

Since I’m not rich, I’ll stick with my World Nomads policies, thankyouverymuch!

Michael nursing a blister on his foot.
This was just a blister. But what if it was a case of leprosy?

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Michael is originally from Canada but now resides in Atlanta, GA with his husband, Halef, who also writes here. He is a Couchsurfing expert and has traveled to over 40 countries to date. Currently saving all his money for a Round the World adventure.

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