Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Sat March 26 2016

Opinion Home | Tales From the Leap

  • Shannon Wolf | March 26, 2016 11:00 PM ET

    The Importance of Travel Insurance

    The Importance of Travel Insurance

    PHOTO: Adventure sports such as canyoning may not be covered by insurance, but sometimes it’s worth the risk. (photo by Shannon Wolf)

    Every time I hear of backpackers foregoing travel insurance while abroad, I can’t help but feel my jaw hit the floor each and every time in shock.

    Okay, I get it. It’s expensive and the thought of throwing money at something you (hopefully) won’t need to use seems useless, but I can tell you firsthand that when and if you do need treatment of any kind, you’ll be happy you weren’t so frugal.

    For nearly the entire first year of my travels, I barely got my money’s worth out of $1,000 of insurance while backpacking throughout Central America and Europe.

    Then in Southeast Asia, my luck ran out…

    I was hit with bacterial infections, followed by food poisoning and then the second worst strain of dengue fever, which landed me in the hospital for a week in Thailand. Because that wasn’t bad enough, I contracted typhoid fever in Cambodia and required a $60 consultation in Vietnam before heading off to India. So I would say yes, travel insurance has been a godsend.

    READ MORE: Travel Insurance Saves The Day For A Guy Who Should Know Better

    All in all, I’m not your mother and I don’t want to nag, but when it comes to travel insurance, it’s better to be safe than paying (or losing) an arm or a leg.

    If you are already abroad and would like to get insured, your best bet is to go with World Nomads, whom I have used mostly throughout my travels around the globe giving you worldwide coverage.

    If you are still in your home country such as the USA, book your insurance from a reputable company such as:

    Allianz Travel Insurance

    Berkshire Hathaway

    CSA Travel Protection

    If you are Canadian, the best insurance companies are:

    Travelcuts Worldwide Travel Insurance

    World Escapade/April International


    When looking for travel insurance, there are five main areas that are part of a good policy:

    1) Medical emergencies and evacuation

    This is by far the most important. I always make sure to get at least $1 million in coverage along with emergency dental (because trust me, bills rack up).

    2) Trip cancellation

    Covers you in case of unforeseen issues such as illness, an accident or a death of a close relative.

    3) Baggage and personal belongings

    This is by far the least important, in my opinion, but an added bonus to having travel insurance.

    4) Personal liability

    Covers your liability and legal expenses if you were involved in an accident, etc.

    5) Insurance with 0 deductible

    As described on Blue Cross' website: “Let's say your plan's deductible is $1,500. That means for most services, you'll pay 100 percent of your medical and pharmacy bills until the amount you pay reaches $1,500. After that, you share the cost with your plan by paying coinsurance and copays.”

    READ MORE: Zika Virus and Travel Insurance: What You Need to Know

    To ensure you choose a policy that's right for you, be sure to also look out for the following:

    • Worldwide Coverage: Most policies will state if they offer worldwide coverage. If you are planning to go to various countries, make sure they’re included in your plan. For example, World Nomads does not cover Cuba and some companies don’t always include the United States, Canada and the Caribbean, so you will need to check.

    • Adventure Sport Coverage: Because the chances of you getting injured in activities is higher, most insurance companies don’t want to take the risk in you making a claim. With that said, if you want to bungee jump, scuba dive, etc. your insurance company may not cover you.


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Shannon Wolf Tales From the Leap

Shannon Wolf Shannon Wolf is a freelance photographer and writer, traveling across the globe with an open itinerary and no intent of stopping. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she left behind a fast paced life to truly live and not just exist in an attempt to inspire others to follow their bliss. At age 26, Shannon has visited 20+ countries on four continents around the world. She has travelled overland by chicken-bus and tuk-tuks, hitchhiked by fruit trucks and through islands on horse and buggy. She has slept in the jungles of Nicaragua, on benches in London, secluded hidden beaches and she’s only getting started.
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