To save as much money as possible for my first trip to South East Asia, I sold my car, sold almost every valuable item that I owned on Ebay and scraped together all the pennies from my copper jar and took them to the bank. My bank account was looking a lot healthier than it had been in previous years and I was excited at the prospect of a few months of travel without having to worry about getting a job!
So when I was faced with taking a chunk out of those precious savings to buy ‘travel insurance’ – I felt a bit sick. What if nothing goes wrong during my trip? What a waste of money that will have been! I have never been the kind of person to think ahead, and I didn’t want to predict all the bad things that could happen during my trip – I just wanted to relax and have fun.
I’ll just hope for the best. I thought.
In hindsight, I realised that if I would have done a little more planning I could have saved myself heaps of money.
In the next six months of travel – sure, I had an amazing time and nothing seriously bad happened to me – but with a stolen laptop, a few days in hospital and a lost camera… I would have been much better off insuring myself in the first place instead of shelling out for each incident when it happened.
Initially, I would have had to pay out around 350 USD for six months cover travelling in Southeast Asia. In the end, I spent around 1400 USD on a new laptop, 200 USD on a new camera and 300 USD on hospital bills, so I ended up 1550 USD down!
My advice? Don’t scrimp. Make sure that you invest in yourself and get decent travel insurance before you travel.
Which Travel Insurance do we recommend?
We recommend World Nomads Travel Insurance as the best choice for backpackers to Southeast Asia. We also know that World Nomads are the Number One Choice for most travel bloggers and long term independent travellers. We know many people who have made successful, no hassle claims with them. Their reputation is excellent and they are easy to get in touch with by phone, email – and even Twitter!
They cover all sorts of adventurous activities, and unlike some insurance companies, they are very clear on what they do and don’t cover. Check out this easy to understand page here. Everything is in black and white, no need to worry about the sneaky small print.
And, because they know that backpackers plans change, World Nomads will let you extend your policy or claim online while you’re still on the road. They’ll even let you sign up when you’ve already left home. That’s good news for those of you now reading this from a beach in Thailand!
Finally, all those who buy travel insurance with World Nomads gain access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
Still not convinced you should invest in Travel Insurance?
Here are our top three reasons why travel insurance will protect you and save you money in the long run:
1. MEDICAL REASONS – MOST IMPORTANT
Getting sick or having an accident
If you have an accident on the road, or you contract dengue fever or some other illness, you’ll want to be in a good hospital where the doctors speak English and can look after you in the best way possible. A few days in a decent hospital can be expensive in Southeast Asia and you don’t want to leave yourself in a vulnerable position if you get hurt or fall ill.
Medical care isn’t cheap
Despite a meal costing a dollar, and a room five dollars, medical care isn’t cheap. If something serious happens, you’ll want to make sure you’re in safe hands, possibly in an international hospital. You won’t want to have an operation in a very basic local clinic / hut with low medical standards!
Local healthcare can be very poor for serious ailments
A friend of mine caught a fever in Cambodia and our other friend who was present said that the nurses were laughing and thought that it was ‘a bit elaborate’ to wash your hands or wear gloves before touching the patient. Basic hygiene rules were not followed. Another horror story comes from a friend of mine who was working as an intern in a local Vietnamese hospital. She told me that they would perform unnecessary operations and make stitches in places they were not needed, just to be seen to be ‘doing something’.
The conclusion is clear. If you have a major illness or need surgery, you’ll want to be in a decent hospital. Without travel insurance, international hospitals can set you back thousands of dollars. An overnight stay is easily over 500 dollars, and that’s just for your bed.
Payment is needed in advance
Furthermore, if you need expensive surgery or treatment, payment is always needed in advance. That insurance policy could save you precious time, and therefore save your life.
Emergency medical evacuation
If you find yourself in an off the beaten track area in Southeast Asia and a life threatening emergency happens or you’re in need of a serious operation, you may need to be evacuated by helicopter to a city with a high standard of medical care. The best healthcare in Southeast Asia can be found in Bangkok, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur. Here you will find internationally approved hospitals with a high standard of cleanliness, expertise and English speaking doctors. If you can’t get on the plane yourself, medical evacuation by helicopter will cost at least 20,000 USD. And if you want to fly back home to be treated, you are looking at more like 100,000 USD.
2. THEFT / LOSS / SCAM
Travel insurance isn’t just for medical emergencies; it can save you a lot of money in the event of loss or theft of your valuables.
Mugging / theft
Whilst robberies in Southeast Asia are fairly rare, you’ll want to make sure you’re covered in the event of a stolen passport, stolen wallet or stolen laptop . With most covers, you will need to pay an extra supplement to insure valuable individual items, but the small amount is always worth it in the end.
Bank account / travel scams
Travel scams have been around for many years, from the notorious gem scam to the ‘that scratch wasn’t on the motorbike when you hired it’ scam! If you end up getting in serious trouble and losing a lot of money that is in no way your fault, then you’ll want to be insured against this.
Lost luggage / lost or broken valuables
I was once on a boat where the engine caught fire. All of the rucksacks were stacked up against the engine (smart idea) and a few of them were incinerated. I lost most of my clothes and belongings and had to carry the few I did have in a black bin bag for the rest of my trip (true story). With World Nomads Travel Insurance you are insured up to 1500 USD for loss or damage of luggage.
Lost passport / travel documents
Losing a passport can be a lot of hassle and expensive to replace quickly. Travel insurance can pay for this and help to ease the process.
In order to claim for theft, loss or scams, you must obtain a police report in the local police station.
What are you going to do if your flight gets cancelled and you miss your connecting flight with another airline? Or heaven forbid, due to a delayed flight, you miss out on starting your group trip of a lifetime? It’s best to be insured against these unlikely events. Most travel insurance policies will cover cancellations to flights. World Nomads explains more about this in their list here.
With some insurance policies, you are also covered if you are forced through no fault of your own, to cancel your trip. You can get back the money for flights, organised group trips and pre-booked accommodation.
Trips / Courses
You can also get the money back for any pre-booked trip or course, if they are cancelled by the company. If you’re interested in booking any of our backpacker trips here, we would recommend taking out travel insurance with World Nomads in the unlikely event of a cancellation.