To insure or not to insure, that is the traveler's question

There are many hotbed items in the travelers world of pre trip items to worry think about.  Where to go first? RTW tickets or open ended??  How much to plan out ahead of time?  Do we vaccinate for everything, a few things, or none at all?  and one of the most talked about; do we insure or not?

Travel insurance is usually two fold.  One side of it is travel health insurance and the other side is for our possessions. Medical insurance for travelers comes in a variety of packages; family plans, over 60's travel insurance policies, singles, couples, and  really any option to suit what you need.  There are also plans that vary in accordance with where you are traveling.  Most I have seen have a US or non US option as the health care in the US is astronomical, but that could be saved for a whole other post.

So back to our question, to insure or not to insure:

Insure your possessions?
This one really depends on a couple of main factors.  To start, the first thing you should determine is if what you are traveling with is really worth anything at all.  If you are traveling with clothes and an old phone then buying insurance for your belongings really doesn't make that much sense.  Some people do it anyway but in my opinion it would not really be worth the trouble or the cost, even if it is not that much per year. That being said if you travel with fancy cameras and computers then it is most definitely worth getting.  The cost is generally very low so more than worth it even if you lose just 1 item during your travels. It happens faster and more often than you think.

The other factor to consider is where in the world you are traveling to.  Some countries, cities, or towns have a much higher incidence of theft than others and while this is not a perfect guideline it should be factored in when determining if you want to pay for insurance or not. I am not one to throw fear around but I know a lot of travelers and nearly all of them have either lost something or had something stolen during their travels.  We have been extremely fortunate to not have lost a thing, nor have we been victims of theft during our SE Asia trip although we did experience a home invasion while living in Costa Rica so we know how easily it can happen.

Insure yourself?
Health insurance is usually an even bigger issue than insuring your belongings, especially if you are older and/or have children.  Most people will agree that it is a good idea to carry some type of health insurance even if that is only to cover extreme emergencies or one in which you need evacuation as few of us have a spare $30,000+ sitting around for a fancy helicopter ride. I used to think, "oh that never happens, who needs evacuation insurance?"  Well a few friends of mine have needed that evacuation insurance and the bottom line is that when you need it you don't see it coming and you need it right then and there. You may never need it, lets hope you don't, but when you do I am pretty sure you want it all set already.  No one should be stressed about costs when a huge emergency strikes!  It is also a very inexpensive add on as the companies know it is not something used very often.

As for standard health insurance packages, there are many to choose from.  Be honest with yourself about what might be a and what you feel most comfortable with.  I know many travelers that have no insurance and many that carry a full load of insurance just in case.  If it eases your mind so you have no worries then get whatever relieves those worries best.  Also be sure to factor in where you are going.  If you plan to spend your time in SE Asia and Central America you may be far less worried about insurance as the cost out of pocket for the most common health issues is shockingly low.  On the other hand, if you plan to travel in the US, as I mentioned above, you will be in for the shock of a lifetime when you get the bill. Very few people have that kind of extra money laying about and again not what you want to worry about when health care crisis strike!

So what do you plan to do or what have you done about insurance when you traveled in the past?  Go all out and carry all insurance possible or skip it and hope for the best?

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  1. Insurance seems so, well, American. I would really like to understand a global perspective about insuring self and stuff.

    1. I agree! But for Americans insurance is so necessary. I mention several times that it really depends on where in the world you are because aside from being in the US I don;t see it as terribly necessary at all!