How to Choose the Right Travel Insurance

Bottom Line:We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance Explorer Policy! They offer adventure sports coverage, the largest amount of insurance for baggage and personal effects loss, and so much more!

Travel insurance is a necessity, especially if you are traveling for a long period of time. I’ve heard other travelers say, “If you can afford to travel, you can afford travel insurance.” Being the cautious planner that I am, I’m sure you already know I agree with this statement. Finding travel insurance that fits your travel duration and budget can leave your head spinning. I will focus on insurance for the long term traveler; however, I found several companies that insure travelers for shorter periods of time through my research as well. Travel Insured International is a company I came across that offers travel insurance for trip/flight cancellation, travel medical and evacuation, and baggage delay and loss. The one catch is they only insure trips up to 180 days. CSA Travel Protection is another company which provides travel insurance for trips lasting up to 90 days.

What to look for when selecting travel insurance:

  1. Medical Coverage: You never know when you might come down with good ol’ Delhi belly or break a leg skiing in the Alps! Make sure you have coverage so that you can get yourself back on the road quickly if anything unexpected happens. Make sure to ask the insurance provider if you have a ‘hospital of choice’ option so that you can choose your own medical facility. I found that travel specific companies have 24 hour a day travel assistance that can help you seek out a medical professional anywhere in the world.
  2. Baggage and Personal Effects Coverage: This is where you should definitely read the fine print. And yes, I did actually read the fine print on each policy I considered. This category of coverage should protect your belongings against theft, damage, or loss. Each company will have a maximum overall dollar amount you can claim as well as a maximum per-claim amount. Also be sure to confirm any items you expect will be covered to the maximum per-claim amount are not in the list of exclusions. One insurance agent I called went through the entire list of items that would not be covered. The list included animals, varmints, and false teeth! Although I don’t plan on bringing any of those items, I wanted to be sure cameras and other electronics were not excluded because they often are. Also check the deductible on the policy. If you are not bringing anything over $500 and the deductible is $500, then the policy doesn’t work for you.
  3. Baggage Delay: Packed all your underwear in your checked baggage and it hasn’t showed up yet? This will cover you to purchase necessities such as clothes, medicine, and toiletries. A time restriction usually exists (i.e. your baggage must be delayed at least 12 hours). An overall limit also usually exists along with a per day amount.
  4. Emergency Evacuation and Repatriation of Remains: Not something you want to think about when planning an epic trip, but it is important. If something happens to you, this covers you for evacuation and transportation to a medical facility and often covers costs for family members to travel to your bedside. It seems this is only in extreme situations (hospitalized more than 7 days after an emergency evacuation), so don’t think you can get a paper cut and fly your parents out to see you for free! Repatriation of remains is usually included in this coverage as well.
  5. Missed Connection: Pretty self-explanatory, this provides coverage up to a certain dollar amount if you miss a connection while traveling.
  6. Trip Cancellation: Each policy has different limits for trip cancellation. If something happens and you can’t go on your trip, this would cover you for non-refundable costs incurred prior to departure. Inclement weather is often included as a covered reason for trip cancellation!
  7. Trip Delay: If you are delayed for a certain duration (i.e. 6 hours or more), this covers you up to a specified daily limit.
  8. Trip Interruption: This covers you for certain illnesses or injuries to you or family members that may cause an interruption to your trip. Also, if a family member passes away while you are traveling and you need to get back home to see them, this will cover you. Be sure to check with the insurance provider about pre-existing conditions related to family members. If a family member has a pre-existing condition that began within 6 months before you purchased your policy, you may not be able to travel to see them if they become ill and the illness is related to that pre-existing condition.
  9. Adventure sports coverage: Depending on what you plan to do while you are traveling, this may or may not be a must-have. For us, this was essential. For example, surfing is considered to be a standard activity that does not require adventure sports coverage, but scuba diving up to 50 meters, skydiving, and even snorkeling are considered adventure sports and would require the additional coverage.
  10. Worldwide travel assistance: Let’s face it, if something happens during your trip and you need to find a doctor, a hotel if your flight gets cancelled, or have your beloved iPod stolen at the hostel you are staying at, you may need to talk to someone to figure out the best way to handle this. Ideally, choose a company with 24/7 travel assistance. Some companies even have a toll-free number you can call to speak with a representative any time of the day. Now that’s service!
  11. Primary Coverage: Determine which aspects of the policy are considered primary. If you have a homeowners or renters insurance policy you will be keeping while you are away, this may take precedence over your travel insurance policy. This brings us back to deductibles and making sure that even if you have a $0 deductible on your travel insurance, if you have a $500 deductible on your homeowner’s policy and your travel insurance is secondary, you will be paying that deductible!
  12. Car rental insurance: Not a necessity but a nice bonus. This usually comes with a deductible. If you read our blog about How to Manage Money Internationally and signed up for the Capital One Venture Card, you won’t need this coverage because it comes with the card (as long as you rent the vehicle with your Venture Card)!

Our Finalists:

Airtreks Insurance: If you purchase your RTDub tickets through Airtreks (see our blog “Purchasing RTDub Tickets” for more info), it comes with a complementary limited insurance policy through Travel Guard Chartis. This doesn’t include trip cancellation insurance. Airtreks gives you the option to upgrade to a Full Package Plan which increases medical coverage and adds trip cancellation and emergency evacuation coverage. The big benefit to this plan is that it is low-cost.

World Nomads: World Nomads also goes through Travel Guard Chartis and offers coverage choices for trips as short as a week and as long as a year. You can purchase travel insurance as an individual, couple, or family. They have two options:

  1. Standard Policy: A very good plan with lower coverage than the explorer policy although lesser expensive too. This does not cover adventure sports or renting a car.
  2. Explorer policy: This policy has it all – adventure sports coverage, car rental insurance, and highest coverage for baggage and personal effects loss. It costs a bit more, so make sure you need all the extras this provides before purchasing.

Travel Guard: Since both Airtreks and World Nomads work with Travel Guard policies, I looked into getting a plan through them only. The policy was a little bit cheaper than the World Nomads plan; however, did not provide as much coverage. Policies through Travel Guard are completely customizable so you can decide what is important to you. If insuring expensive baggage is not a priority, this policy may be for you!


(If you can’t see the table below, see the photo at the end of this post.)

AirTreks Full Package MyTravelGuard World Nomads Standard World Nomads Explorer
Trip Duration Until the day of your last purchased flight with Airtreks, unless otherwise requested 268 Days** 9 months 9 months
Number of Travelers 2 2 2 2
Residency Colorado, USA Colorado, USA Colorado, USA Colorado, USA
Trip Cancellation, per insured 100% of cost $5,000 $2,500 $5,000
Trip Interruption, per insured 125% of cost 100% trip cost ($1,000 return air) $2,500 $5,000
Medical Expenses, per insured $50,000 $100,000 $100,000 $100,000
Evacuation/Repatriation, per insured $250,000 $1,000,000 $300,000 $500,000
Security Evacuation, per insured $300,000 $500,000
Baggage Theft/Loss/Damage, per insured $1500/$500 $2,500/500 $1,000/$500 $3,000/$1,500
Baggage Theft/Loss/Damage Deductible, per insured $0 $0 $0 $0
Trip Delay, per insured $750/day ($150/day) $500 ($100/day) $500 ($100/day) $1,500 ($100/day)
Missed Connection, per insured $500 $500
Baggage Delay, per insured $100 $500 $750 ($150/day) $750 ($150/day)
Car Rental Collision Coverage, per insured No No No $35,000 ($250 Deductible)
Accidental Death and Dismemberment, per insured $5,000 $10,000
Adventure Sports, per insured No Yes No Yes
Sporting Equipment, per insured $0 $0 $250/$250 $1,000/$1,000
Worldwide Travel Assistance Yes Yes Yes Yes
Total Cost for Couple $396.00 (8% of trip cost) $1,124.34 $1,192.00 $1,581.04

**The Travel Guard quote was given to me for 5 days shy of 9 months. Adding even one day to this bumped the rate up several hundred dollars. Keep this in mind when purchasing a policy and don’t ask for coverage for a longer duration than necessary.

Note that additional coverages may exist within each policy. I just wanted to show you a comparison of what I consider the most important categories.

To sum up, World Nomads Explorer Plan was the best option for us, even though it was a little more expensive. It was the only plan we could find that would cover $3,000 of baggage and up to $1,500 per item. The other policies covered $500 for the first claim and no more than $250 for each additional claim. I found all three companies to be very easy to contact. World Nomads was definitely the most responsive, and was available every time I called with questions about their policies. When it comes to insurance, pick the best plan that works for you. Everyone has different travel needs and a lesser expensive policy may be sufficient for you.

One Other Point About Renter’s/Homeowner’s Insurance:

John and I discussed potential coverage options with our current renter’s insurance company (Stillwater, through GEICO). After doing a good bit of research and speaking with 5+ representatives at GEICO, I determined that keeping the renters insurance policy we have would not fit our needs. Renter’s insurance often does cover your possessions ANYWHERE in the world! Our policy has this feature and we thought this would allow us to purchase a more inexpensive travel insurance plan and rely on the renter’s insurance if something happened to any of our belongings on the trip (and most importantly, John’s beloved camera equipment). Through discussions with GEICO, we determined our deductible is $500 (which is the case for most renters’ insurance policies) and since we won’t have a permanent address in the states, we could have some issues with the claims department actually approving a request. We decided it was worth it to pay a little extra to have full coverage for all our baggage with a $0 deductible. Plus, we wouldn’t have to deal with two separate companies.

Before we made our final decision, I did some extra research and looked into my parent’s homeowner’s insurance. Our mailing address will be at their home, so I wanted to determine if their homeowner’s insurance would cover our belongings. No such luck. A week and several phone calls later, we confirmed that since we won’t actually be residing at the home, the belongings we have on the road would not be covered. With that said, anything we leave at their house while we are gone would be covered.

Now that your head is spinning and you are vowing to never think about another insurance policy ever again, I will wish you good luck and assure you that you will feel a great sense of relief once your insurance policy is actually purchased!




insurance table


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