Let’s be honest with each other for a second: when you think of travelling the world and seeing all those wonderful places that get printed on postcards, you do not think of all the things that could go wrong!
Why would you? After all, the whole point of taking a vacation is so you can take a break from your troubles and all the bad &%^$ that goes on in this world. You just want to go somewhere your problems will leave you alone with a bottle of Tequila (or Kambucha…to each his own; this is a prejudice and discrimination-free zone); probably a place with white sandy beaches, warm sunny weather and clear starlit night skies (hint: Diani has all that and more)…a place where you can just relax and not have to worry about things like how much it would cost to get a CT Scan should you need one!
Alas…you cannot bury your head in the sand
While it is entirely possible to have your toes and in some cases, your entire body covered with the fine sands at any one of Kenya’s awe-inspiring beaches prudence dictates that you do not bury your head in the sand when it comes to ‘matters travel insurance‘!
Yes! It’s a boring topic…we know but we also know that it is one which demands serious thought! How do you go about finding the right kind of travel insurance? Wait…why would you even need travel insurance?
Why buy travel insurance?
Think of travel insurance as the one thing you buy with hopes that you will never need it. It is very much like every other insurance you buy except this one gives you the freedom to enjoy visiting exotic places on this planet free of worry.
- Would you hesitate to buy car insurance? Of course not! In fact, it is not even an option that’s available to you!
- How about health insurance? Yeah…you can probably do without this because it is not mandatory but should you ever need it and not have it, you would not believe the kind of financial strain that will put on you.
- What about home insurance? It is practical to have it…it just is!!
Travel insurance is the same. If you are a wanderer like most of us are in this forum, then you NEED to have a comprehensive cover every time you go out to experience this wonderful planet of ours.
You just do! It’s practical; it’s safe; it gives you peace of mind and it is not even that expensive considering how much grief it can save you in the long run!
How do you find the right travel insurance cover?
Finding the right kind of insurance is about more than just deciding which cover is affordable. You need to base your choice on a few key factors such as:
Your specific needs and kind of travel
We all have different notions of ‘our ideal travel experience’. There are questions to be answered such as:
- Do you prefer extreme travel experiences? Scaling Mt. Kenya; spending a night under the stars in the Chalbi Desert; feeding the crocodiles at Mamba Village…that kind of thing?
- Where do you like to go when you travel? Are you more of a city boy/girl who is all about the nightlife or would you like to go out and chase after flamingos in Lake Naivasha?
- How often do you travel? The more frequently you travel the higher the chances of something going wrong at some point.
The answer to these questions will determine what kind of cover you will need; a comprehensive or selective cover.
What kind of coverage does the policy offer?
The most comprehensive travel insurance policies tend to go all out and cover four main categories:
- Personal accident
- Travel inconveniences
- Medical expenses
- Emergency benefit
To be honest, the kind of coverage offered is the core of any insurance policy it, therefore, behoves you to pay close attention to this section. Based on the kind of traveller you are, you can determine which sections are more important to you and choose a policy that pays out more in those sections.
For example, if you fly all the time to different cities but don’t really go out into the mountains or to a place where the lions are, then you might need a cover that focuses more on ‘travel inconveniences’. You know, things like luggage loss, flight cancellations, disasters and such.
Keep an eye on the exclusions
The biggest mistake you can make when getting travel insurance…and really any other type of insurance is to assume that you are covered for everything. Every policy you choose has different tiers which are priced differently and every tier has exclusions and conditions. You NEED to pay close attention to these exclusions and conditions! Heck, your cover might not even work in some countries (most worldwide covers exclude the U.S and Canada)!
What is the claims procedure?
It would be pointless to get an insurance cover only to lock yourself out of any claims payout because you did not pay attention to the claims procedure. This is almost as important as the coverage offered by the policy. You need to know without any doubt what kind of claims procedure the insurer demands. Some require you to hand in a written report of the incidence within 30 days of its occurrence while others will need a whole lot of documents attached to the claim including a police report and photographic evidence.
The stricter and more complicated the claims procedure, the higher your chances of messing it up and missing out on your payout. Find someone who is ‘user-friendly’ so to speak.
Do you go ‘annual policy’ or take each day as it comes?
If you are a frequent flyer (at least thrice each year) then you should undoubtedly go for the annual policy. It is more practical, cheaper and involves less paperwork. However, if you are not too keen on travel at the moment (for the life of us…we simply cannot understand why that would be the case) then you should look into taking each day as it comes but always consider getting insurance before you get on that flight.
Remember, while there is a huge component of health insurance with every travel insurance cover this is NOT meant to act as a substitute for your local health insurance policy. The health insurance in travel insurance policies is meant to cover accidents and sudden illnesses when you are busy gallivanting away and the level to which this cover extends depends on the kind of plan and provider you choose.
What are some of the things you look for when choosing travel insurance? Share your tips and tricks with us in the comment section below.