When I initially left the U.S. to begin my hitchhiking adventures, I hadn’t a single clue about anything regarding travel: I was fresh out of the womb, so to speak, with nothing but the whole world in front of me.  I didn’t know where I’d go or what I do, and wasn’t even remotely thinking about what would happen in the event of a real problem.  Luckily, I had an experienced traveler by my side to show me the ropes.  Although he was a tumbleweed blowing the wind, he still managed to have a very sturdy head on his shoulders in regards to reality.  When we began our travels together, he assured me that getting travel insurance was an absolute necessity, as my basic private health plan in the U.S. wouldn’t cover me abroad.

With his help, I found my ideal policy with World Nomads.  For next to nothing (compared to U.S. health care costs), they would cover both basic and all sorts of active lifestyle ailments.  No one ever wants to believe that something unfortunate will befall them, but it’s always comforting to know that your butt will be covered.  A few years ago, my dare devil broke his back, compressing two vertebrae, while skiing in the French Alps.  Without this policy, his hospital expenses would have left him many thousands of Euros in the hole.  Knowing that prevented me from enjoying a day in the mountains in Bulgaria, as I ignorantly did not have a policy at the time and had become increasingly paranoid about bodily harm.

A Travel Insurance Policy?

Purchasing a travel insurance policy allows you to choose what you want to be insured for over a set amount of time.  The company agrees to cover a maximum amount with you being left to pay the excess; this is quite a fair deal, as the proportions are in your favor.  I usually purchased in three month increments, as I rarely knew what I’d be doing 91 days in the future.  With my World Nomads policy, I was able to set a start date after I’d already left my home country.  Many countries do not allow this, so if you’re a frequent nomad, this is already the right starting point for you.

What is covered?

The policies cover losses, baggage, personal belongings (as long as you claim them up front), cancellation, and financial institution failure.  For expensive trinkets, read the fine print in your chosen policy.  More often than not, you will need to pay extra for high-value items.  However, these are not as essential as the medical aspects of any policy.  You want to ensure that, in the event of an emergency or even a small accident, you will have something to fall back on- you don’t ever want to be that person who is afraid to check yourself into hospital because you don’t have the funds to pay the consequential bills.  It’s important to remember, though, that travel insurance policies will NOT cover pre-existing conditions, incidents involving drugs or alcohol, sexually-related diseases and infections, or deliberately putting yourself in danger- I imagine this to mean activities like, “Let’s see who can hang upside off of the massive cliff for the longest time” and things of the like.

Making a Claim

In the event that something does happen, you will collect the hospital bills and send copies of your receipts to your provider.  When traveling, it’s crucial to always have a form of identification at hand, namely a passport, so that the hospitals can keep a record of you.  That being said, J and I once had a two day incident in a Greek hospital in which doctors took down his first name and neglected all other details: maybe they were disorganized, maybe they were just more concerned with helping people…who knows?

Moral of the story: you are not immortal.  In the event of an emergency or even a basic illness or infection, you want to be covered.  It’s better to be safe than sorry.  If you’re serious about travel (and keeping your rear covered), get a quote with World Nomads below.  By booking with this widget, you’ll be assisting with the success of The Vegetarian Traveller, which would earn you not only a comforting insurance policy but also my never-ending appreciation.  If you find somewere that offers a cheaper and more comprehensive deal, please let me know and I’ll help spread the word a.s.a.p..

Happy wanderings, ya’ll!