Travel Insurance - What to Look For | Travel Guide
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Travel Insurance - What to Look For
Things to look for
Look for good country cover, particularly at the current time (early 2005), where policies sometimes do not include Thailand or other countries affected by the South East Asia Tsunami. Make sure that the activities that are covered include things like hitchhiking, hiking and if you foresee it - scuba diving, bungee jumping, normal team sports.
Don't always look at the headline figures - what are the chances of you need $1 million legal expenses? Much lower than you claiming on baggage lost in the airport.
If you are taking specific expensive items such as laptops and cameras, finding a general purpose travel insurance package that covers these items will be difficult. Make a decision here: get some quotes for specific insurance for these items, work out the cost of replacing the item - and choose whether or not to buy the often high premium or cover the cost of a potential replacement yourself.
The highest insurance premiums are for travel to the US, Canada and Japan. If you avoid these countries you will get much lower insurance. It is not because your risk is higher in these countries, just the opposite, but you are much more likely to be sued for something minor, and be liable for higher court costs.
What they don't tell you
Insurance companies exist to make money - not as a service to individuals. Due to this, you will be charged more money than the risk of something happening, multiplied by the money you'd need to get out of trouble. For example, a British Citizen taking a short city break to Paris is extremely unlikely to have any kind of mishap at all - and even if he fills in the freely available E111 form which covers him for emergency treatment - insurance for this trip generally costs in the region of £20 ($35). Compare this with insurance for extended travel around the world, which can cost £120 ($200), is a much higher risk, for a much longer time away, with no cover provided in certain countries and the £20 insurance charge appears vastly disproportionate. Do your homework before paying out for travel insurance - it is a must for any extended travel - but don't pay over the odds; shop around.
Remember you are not covered if you put yourself in high risk situations, you are not insured for damages caused when drunk, or if you go somewhere you are not supposed to.
If an insurance company receives a large claim they will investigate to try and avoid paying it. Be up front in your declarations and only make honest claims. Keep receipts for any purchases and send the receipts home if you buy anything expensive on your travels. You will need receipts to prove ownership.
Next: Backpacker Travel Insurance