Why I always buy travel insurance when I travel

Do you buy travel insurance before you go on a trip? It surprised me that a large number of travellers that I’ve talked to do not buy travel insurance, because I’ve always considered it one of my pre-trip must-dos, something ingrained in me from travelling with my family. I’ve also had the chance to speak with some travel insurance experts when I was featured on a TV series to learn more about travel insurance, and I am convinced that this is a necessary travel expenditure.

Beyond habit, my need to buy travel insurance stems from my own personal experiences travelling – I like to think I’m a pretty sensible traveller all around, but let’s face it, shit happens whenever, wherever. Travel insurance has helped save my ass (and my wallet) enough times that I decided to just get an annual plan so I wouldn’t forget to ensure I had travel insurance coverage no matter how last minute my trip was.

The folks at Budget Direct Insurance wanted me to talk about why travel insurance is important for a traveller so I’ll give you my side of the story, but I’d love to hear what you guys think: Whether you are a believer like I am, and especially if you are not because it seems like the benefits more than outweigh the cons, so it would be great to hear some other viewpoints.

WHen I have made travel insurance claims

No one wants shitty things to happen to them when they travel, but here are a couple of times I was quite glad to have my travel insurance on hand to cover some of my losses. I’ve been quite lucky that most of my claims are fairly minor and I hope it stays that way.

When stuff gets stolen overseas

Budapest Parliament House River Grey Day
One of the first photos I took on my new phone in Budapest after a long day of sorting stuff out – because my phone was stolen, I lost about half my photos from Budapest. Thank goodness I had my FR100 with me, but still, it’s kinda shitty losing pix.

I loved Budapest, but like Barcelona where I nearly got robbed, Budapest will always be ‘that place my phone got stolen‘. The one downside of solo travel is not having some extra eyes to watch your stuff – and while I’ll never know for sure, I’m pretty sure someone was watching me wander around Szechenyi Baths on my own that day. The moment I let down my guard, my iphone was snatched in less than 5 minutes, and along with my iphone I lost my drivers license, ATM card, some cash which were in my phone case. But honestly the worst thing I lost – photos from Budapest that I had yet to back up.

BUT the important thing is that I had travel insurance, and while there was a claim limit of $500 for electronics, it definitely helped cushion some of the cost I needed to fork out for a new phone. This one claim more than made up for the cost of my entire annual plan (which was about $400).

This also isn’t the first time things have mysteriously gone missing or got stolen from me on trips – you might have read this instance of the mysteriously disappearing camera in New Zealand, there was also a family trip in Italy long ago where my iPod disappeared from my jacket after riding the public bus, and more recently I managed to mysteriously lose a rented wifi dongle in Beijing and had to pay a $300 penalty, which thankfully I managed to claim for.

I swear I’m appropriately paranoid about keeping my stuff safe – I’m the person who carried 6 locks while travelling around South America recently (and managed to lose/spoil half of them so thank goodness for redundancy) and I rarely leave anything unattended, but somehow stuff like this still happens to me.

Protip: Making a travel insurance claim for lost items isn’t always as simple as just filing a report. In each of these cases above, I had to spend precious trip time going to the local police station to file a report for my claim, and I had to dig up old receipts and invoices to justify claims costs. Keep records of your big ticket items that you carry on trips somewhere just in case, and consider a plan which gives you extra coverage for things like your phone or laptop, especially if they are key to your life or work.

Falling sick on the road

Poland Krakow Wieliczka Salt Cave Wefie
Exploring the Wieliczka Salt Caves with a friend I met on a walking tour earlier that morning. What you can’t tell here is that while I was talking fairly normally in the morning, by this time in the late afternoon there was barely any voice coming out of my throat – my new friend was a bit shocked haha

In Krakow, Poland, there were a few days where I had completely lost my voice. I carry around enough medicine to combat common illnesses and maladies, but losing my voice completely was a first and rather worrying. My hostel folk managed to find me a nice English speaking doctor nearby, who diagnosed it as nothing too serious thankfully, but that doctor’s visit and the medication were all covered by my travel insurance as well.

Protip: Not many people realise this, but in addition to covering you on your travels, a lot of travel insurance policies also cover your medical fees if you fall sick on the road and have to go to the doctor right after your trip. This is useful if you catch some sort of minor cold or illness that only develops into something more serious when you’re back in Singapore – Check your plan to be sure what the time limit is.

Travel delays and loss

Dublin Bansha Luggage
So happy my luggage finally arrived that I had to take a picture. Waiting at the baggage carousel for a non-existent bag is excruciating

One of my best examples of why travel insurance is important is from my trip to Dublin back in 2013. I managed to make my tight connection from Zurich to Prague and to Dublin, but my luggage did not. I was stranded for an additional 25 hours without my luggage and any clothes to change into, on top of being in the same clothes that I had worn on the plane for almost 20+ hours. Thankfully I was attending an indoor workshop, and my luggage did turn up eventually, but having travel insurance got me compensated a cool $800.

Protip: Beyond knowing what is in your policy, I suggest to always take a picture of your bag before you travel or check it in – you’ll need information like brand, colour, type of bag to help the airline locate your bag in case it gets lost or delayed. I’ve also taken to always carrying a spare change of clothes in my carry-on, or just going carry-on only to be safe.

Protip 2: If you go for cheap flights like I do, remember that budget airlines can have some massive travel delays and because of the budget nature of the airlines, there is often very little compensation, so having travel insurance is also a good safety policy.

In conclusion: Get Travel Insurance if you can

I know travel is quite a big expense for most and having to fork out a sum of money for travel insurance that you may not use seems like a waste, but considering how much you are ready to fork out for your perfect holiday, I feel that extra small sum of insurance is not a high price to pay in the event things go wrong.

I also realise that taking the time to scrutinize the fine print is a pain and trying to figure out which plan works best for you is even more daunting. Consider going through your regular insurance agent if you trust them as it shouldn’t cost you more than buying directly – my agent is a friend who I text with questions about my policy, helps me submit my claims and reminds me when I need to renew my plan. The online process makes it much easier for most but I prefer to ask a person questions than to try and process the fine print.

Share with me your own stories about travel insurance – are there times you’ve been glad for the cover?

This post was sponsored by Budget Direct Insurance, cheap travel insurance that cuts the cost, not the cover. Go to www.budgetdirect.com.sg or call 6221 2111 to find out more.

8 thoughts on “Why I always buy travel insurance when I travel”

  1. I can’t believe the amount of people who travel without insurance! My friend’s boyfriend had a climbing accident once in Morocco and had to pay for everything himself – including being flown back to the UK to get an emergency surgery. I’m glad he got out of it alive, but I just can’t believe how irresponsible that was… I’m insured with a mountaineering club back home, and they cover almost any outdoor activity I do – ideal for active travelers like myself!!

    1. heh wow that must have been some astronomical costs! Well with insurance I think most people think of it as short term costs and hedging their bets that they won’t need it 90% of the time, but yeah when you’re that 10% who needs it, it becomes well worthwhile only then…

  2. I have a chronic illness (aka a pre-existing condition). I actually usually do not buy travel insurance for short vacations – typically because I’m usually traveling in Europe where I am comfortable/not far from home in the US. But last year when my husband and I embarked on a year of long-term travel to places all over the world, travel insurance was a must. I have a couple protips (as you like to say!) for people with pre-existing conditions… 1) look around – a lot of insurance companies do not offer plans that cover pre-existing conditions; 2) buy the insurance ASAP – all plans that do offer pre-existing condition coverage impose a time limit so you must purchase the insurance within something like 14 or 21 days of your trip deposit – and that means anything you pay for your trip. Luckily, I didn’t have to use my travel insurance for anything related to my illness, but I did have to use it on two separate occasions for other medical situations. It really isn’t that expensive and gave us great peace of mind so I might consider getting it for shorter trips in the future.

    1. That’s really great info to know about pre-existing conditions, because it would also suck to think that you were doing all that and then not actually end up being covered, thanks for sharing!

  3. Falling sick is so real! As you probably remember, I had to have my appendix out in Thailand (cringe) and travel insurance miraculously covered everything from the medical bills, the ambulance, and the hotel afterward while I was recovering. After that scare, I’ll never travel without it!

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