Travel insurance is an important consideration for any trip and it is often said if you can't afford travel insurance you can't afford to travel. Selecting the right travel insurance policy is not difficult and this page sets out some of the things you should consider.
Holidays don't always go as planned and you may find yourself needing urgent and expensive medical treatment. A travel insurance policy gives you the peace of mind that you are covered for any medical emergencies you encounter and won't end up with a significant debt at the end. It also ensures you can get home as soon as possible to recover in a familiar environment. The cost of a policy in the context of an overall trip is minor and not something that should be overlooked in our opinion.
There are a wide range of travel policies available and a search online will reveal the many companies that offer this type of policy. Some premium credit cards also offer complimentary travel insurance when certain conditions are met so check your card benefits as you may find you are already covered. Policies should have a summary of what they do and don't cover so use this to your benefit when comparing different companies.
You get what you pay for with policies and a cheaper policy will typically not cover the same things a more expensive policy does. For example the range of what is covered may be less or the amounts that will be paid out will be less than policies with a higher premium. Think about things like the value of what you are taking, the activities you will be undertaking, the countries you will stop in and any pre existing conditions and make sure they are all covered under the policy you choose.
Following are a few things that we think you should especially check before selecting a policy. Firstly if you have any pre-existing conditions make sure you speak to the insurer and check that you are covered. Chronic conditions are often covered automatically as long as certain conditions are met but it always pays to double check. Our advice would be to speak to the insurer about any pre existing conditions and if possible get something in writing to make sure you will be covered in the event of a claim.
Secondly, if you are relying on a complimentary credit card policy make sure you know what you have to do to trigger the policy. In most cases you are required to spend a minimum amount on the travel component of the trip for the policy to trigger. As an example, we always thought our domestic travel at home was covered by our credit card. We discovered by accident that we had never met the conditions for domestic travel. Thankfully we were not in a position where we had to make a claim.
Thirdly, when selecting a policy consider any countries you will transit through on route to your destination. Flight delays or schedule changes may see you spending some time in a country you did not expect to be in. We unexpectedly spent a night in Dubai due to a late flight flight from Paris and missed our connecting flight to Australia.
Government travel advice web sites provide independent information about travel insurance relevant to its citizens. Listed below are the links for a number of countries and will take you directly to the relevant page.
Canada – www. travel.gc.ca
Ireland – www.dfa.ie
New Zealand – www. safetravel.govt.nz
United Kingdom – www.gov.uk
United States of America – www. travel.state.gov
These sites will also outline any reciprocal health agreements in place and what you need to do to access them. All governments make it very clear that they will not cover the medical expenses of their citizens overseas.
Regardless of whether you take your own bike or not it is especially important to double check your policy wording in relation to riding a bike and in particular, the type of riding you are planning to do. For example I have seen a policy that automatically covers cycling to an altitude of 2,000m only and if you plan to ride higher you need to pay a higher premium. Racing a bike or riding in an event may not be part of an automatic cover and could attract a higher premium. Contact insurers directly to check your situation if the online information is not clear. A 5 minute phone call could save a lot of hassle if something does happen.
When travelling with your own bike you will want to make sure your policy covers it as well. Most travel insurance policies will only cover personal items up to a certain limit and a bike is usually well over that limit. In our experience bike specific polices tend to be much more expensive than a regular policy. If your bikes are already covered at home by a home contents policy check to see if that cover will extend to overseas travel. We discovered that our bikes were covered in our home contents policy while we were overseas meaning we were able to take out a standard travel insurance policy and not a bike specific one.