No one likes to think about a great trip to Asia being interrupted, but it does happen. Budget travel insurance covers you while you are abroad; it may pay for itself if your bags are lost or stolen, or you get hit by a distracted tuk-tuk driver!
Fortunately, budget travel insurance is much cheaper than regular health insurance. Read on to learn what to look for in a policy before making a purchase.
What is Budget Travel Insurance?
Budget travel insurance is international travel medical insurance that covers you in case you get hurt while traveling abroad. Chances are that your regular health insurance will not cover you once you leave your home country. Travel insurance fills the gap to keep you protected until you come home.
In addition to adding a little peace of mind in case you get injured, travel insurance also covers incidents such as bag theft or delay at the airport, unexpected trip cancellation (i.e., a family member becomes ill just before you leave), and even emergency evacuation to get you home if needed.
Do You Need Travel Insurance?
The short answer: Yes. Sometimes things don't always go as planned, particularly in developing countries, and you're trusty first aid kit may not be enough. You'll appreciate the peace of mind once you take a bus ride or two with a suicidal driver passing people blindly on mountain roads -- standard procedure in Asia!
Also, you will probably be far more active on a trip to Asia than you are at home. Your time will be spent outdoors, crossing roads in busy cities, and enjoying a little adventure. Travel inherently opens up more opportunities to get hurt than sitting in living rooms, offices, and restaurants at home does.
- Learn to protect yourself from these 5 common threats to your health while traveling.
Before Purchasing Budget Travel Insurance
First, figure out if you are already covered for some incidents:
- Some home owner's or renter's insurance policies may offer a little coverage -- usually $500 -- for your valuables.
- Some credit cards will offer trip interruption and baggage loss coverage if you purchased your flight with them.
Considerations to Think About
- Trip Protection: Nearly every policy includes some level of trip protection in case that you are delayed or have to cancel your trip. Read about Rule 240 and your rights for unexpected delays while flying.
- Emergency Evacuation: Your travel insurance should cover you in the event that you are sick and injured to the point of returning home. Sometimes this requires a costly charter flight with doctor on board, so aim for policies with at least $100,000 coverage for evacuation.
- Lost or Stolen Property: Most policies will cover your electronics and valuables, however, the claims process is usually strict. As this is the most attempted -- and denied -- way to take advantage of travel insurance, read the fine print for claiming losses carefully!
- Extreme Sports: Find out in advance what qualifies as an “extreme sport” before you make a purchase.
Adventure Travel and Extreme Sports
By default, many travel insurance policies exclude coverage for what they consider to be "high risk" activities. Extreme sports doesn't have to mean bungee jumping; some insurers claim that hiking, boating, and riding a motorbike are too extreme. Depending on what you plan to do, read the policy fine print to see if that scuba diving or trek you have planned is covered.
Most policies will allow you to cover your adventure travel with an upgrade that costs a little extra.
Tip: Most budget travel insurance policies do not cover riding motorbikes -- an activity that is common in Asia.
How to Choose Budget Travel Insurance?
Not surprisingly, a confusing array of policies, providers, and options exist for travelers wanting to get insured. Travel Guard is the leading travel insurance provider in the US. Their website clearly defines what is and is not covered for various policies, and adventurous travelers can easily purchase extreme sports coverage.
Compare prices on travel insurance policies.
Know How to Use Your Travel Insurance
Big insurance companies can make profits because so few travelers take advantage of their policies, or incorrectly make claims which are denied.
- Immediately after purchasing your policy, print out a copy to carry with you on your trip. Make sure you have international contact numbers for making a claim, as toll-free numbers may not work from outside the US.
- Print the card with policy numbers and emergency contact lines; carry it in your money belt or wallet at all times in case you are injured away from the hotel.
- Read the policy and know in advance how to make a claim in case you are robbed or injured.
- Know how much your deductible is.
- Check to see if a police report is required to make a claim -- it probably is.
- Find out if you must preauthorize treatment and if you must go to specific clinics.
- See what the time limit is for reporting a claim. Many policies require that an incident must be reported between 24 - 48 hours after it occurred, so waiting until you return home is not an option.
- Know if receipts for your camera, laptop, or other valuables are required to make a claim. If so, make copies and leave them with a loved one that can fax them in before the time limit.
- Record the models, serial numbers, and even take pictures of valuable electronics you plan to carry on your trip.
- If you plan to rent cars while away, find out if your budget travel insurance covers rentals so that you can decline the additional insurance when renting.