Bewilderingly, many travellers don’t buy travel insurance before they go away. To mark the launch of our partnership with World Nomads, we asked General Manager Chris Noble why travellers should take out travel insurance and we got a whole lot of other invaluable advice too.

Travel insurance should be at the top of your trip planning checklist as far as we’re concerned. But what we find even more astonishing than the fact that many travellers don’t organise travel insurance before they go on holidays, is that so-called travel experts advise people not to get insurance, based on the fact that the chances of something happening are so low.

In fact, if current events are anything to go by – from the spate of volcanic eruptions in Ecuador, Japan and Myanmar in recent days to the increased number of terrorist attacks around the world this year – the chances of something happening to you are probably higher than they’ve ever been.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t travel – we believe that if anything, there’s even more reason to travel now than there ever has – but you definitely should be doing it with travel insurance.

As we wanted to encourage you to take out travel insurance, as well as offer a place for participants doing our culinary travel writing and photography retreats and tours to come book insurance, we’ve partnered up with World Nomads.

We chose World Nomads because we’ve always loved the company, which was started by travellers for travellers (which means the booking process is a breeze), and we’ve loved their ethos. Like us, they care about the world around them, they believe more and more people should travel, they advocate responsible and sustainable travel, and they give back.

We’ll let World Nomads General Manager Chris Noble tell you more about why you need to take out travel insurance and why with World Nomads.

Why You Need Travel Insurance – Essential Advice from World Nomads

Q. Why should travellers take out travel insurance?

A. Mostly people think about travel insurance in case their bags get stolen or lost, and Worldnomads.com does cover that, but more importantly is the medical and medical repatriation coverage. If you become seriously ill or are injured in a country where the hospital care is perhaps not up to scratch, we will ensure you get the best possible care – and that might mean moving you to another country.

The resources and expertise to arrange that is not something in the capability of most people – especially during such a stressful occurrence. Of course, medical evacuation is very expensive. What could cost tens of thousands of dollars is covered by a significantly smaller premium. And when you’re recovered, travel insurance will help you get back on the road, to resume your trip where you left off. Again, that would be expensive to do if you had to pay for it yourself.

Q. What are the most common sorts of mishaps that a typical travel insurance policy covers?

A. We split events into three categories: medical, theft or loss, cancellation and delay – and that covers everything!

Medically, we handle an alarming number of injuries from motorbike accidents, a lot of severe gastro’ cases, and tropical diseases such as dengue fever show up often. Imagine a normal medical clinic in any town, and the types of ailments and illnesses that are presented to the doctors there. It’s the same for our claims. We’re often surprised by what’s happened to travellers!

Theft and loss – fortunately not too many people get mugged or robbed, but bags do go missing. Most commonly though, travelers simply lose stuff: leave it behind, drop it overboard, or simply forget where it is. Be careful with your belongings. If you haven’t paid proper attention to them or don’t take reasonable care to make sure you haven’t left them behind, your claim could be questioned! Double checking you have your bag/ipad/sunglasses with you is a lot easier than making a claim.

Q. What about things like flight cancellations, lost luggage, delays that result in missed connections, getting stranded and having to pay a night’s accommodation or fork out more money for a pricier flight – are these covered by standard policies?

A. This is one of the greatest misunderstandings about travel insurance coverage. First of all, flight cancellations and delays are the responsibility of the airline. They have to arrange to get you on the next available flight or compensate you for any delay.

Missed connections – this gets tricky if you haven’t booked all your connected flights with the same airline or airline partners. If you’re booked through with the same airline and because of their delay you miss their connecting flight, it’s their responsibility to get you to where you should be as soon as practicable – and look after you in the meantime.

If they don’t, or don’t do it well enough, there is a benefit for out of pocket expenses – food, accommodation, essentials – but there are limits and your flight needs to have caused a delay that’s over a certain time period (usually 12 hours, but it varies from policy to policy). Keep receipts and other evidence of the delay and costs.

If you’ve found two really cheap flights with two different airlines, and the first airline causes a delay that means you miss the second flight, it’s not their responsibility to help you get to the second destination. And as far as the second airline is concerned, you just didn’t show up, so getting a refund or rearrangement will be tough. Similarly, and for the same reason (it’s a series of one-way trips) your travel insurance is unlikely to cover.

It’s a complicated part of insurance and you’re not expected to know the ins-and-outs, so always contact us at Worldnomads.com to clarify the coverage.

Q. So what is your best advice on that then?

A. If your trip includes connecting flights, book them with the same airline.

If you can’t (or don’t want to), make sure you leave plenty of time for connection, so you don’t get put in a bind.

Don’t book or pay for any additional flights until you’ve spoken to us – a delay may not be the excuse to pay a small fortune for the last business class seats on a flight to your destination – you may end up paying the difference between business and economy out of your own pocket.

Don’t use delays as an excuse to upgrade yourself to the Presidential suite, if you’re usually an economy passenger. You’re a nomad, right? Head back into town, check back into your accommodation, catch up with the new friends you made… and try again tomorrow.

Q. What if a traveller is robbed and loses everything or their hotel burns down with their luggage in it – how quickly can you help them sort things out and get cash to people?

A. The process varies, depending on the circumstances. But if the hotel has burnt down and you’ve lost everything, call our emergency assistance team. They’ll arrange (and pay for) another hotel, and will try to arrange a cash advance for you from the hotel.

We’ll get in touch with your family at home who can arrange access to your bank accounts, or even contact local Consular officials from your country who often have emergency procedures for situations such as this. It’s all pretty fast and meant to minimise the inconvenience to you.

Q. Everyone travels with expensive tech gear these days – amateurs use pro-level cameras, everyone takes iPhones, iPads, e-readers, notebooks, laptops, go-pros, etc – they’re no longer restricted to the professional. Does your average travel insurance policy cover these or is there special coverage people need?

A. If people are traveling with truly professional gear, they’ll need professional insurance. Contact the local industry association – they usually have deals with providers. Travel insurance is for things people normally travel with – so, yes a phone, a music player, a laptop etc. But we do have limits on coverage. Those limits differ from our Standard to Explorer package (and depending on which country your from), so check your policy.

People should start here by seeing some of the conditions around coverage for digital nomads. If they think they’re going over those limits, they’ll probably need the professional insurance.

Q. What about the things that travellers never expect to happen to them but can happen to anyone, like being in a horrific accident or a place where there’s been an uprising or natural disaster such as an earthquake?

A. That is exactly what travel insurance is for – unforeseen events, and yes we do cover all those you mentioned. In fact we take pride in the level of service we provide to our travellers who are in such dire circumstances. We want to get you to safety, we will get you the best treatment available, and if it’s deemed necessary to evacuate from a destination we’ll help you with arrangements and do our best to make sure you’re not left out of pocket from cancellation costs, booking change fees etc.

As far as non-medical evacuation goes, sadly we don’t have a fleet of aircraft to come and extract you. But if there’s official advice to get out of a place (from government sources usually) we will help you connect with commercial services (bus companies, airlines, etc). Often in such dire circumstances foreign governments step in and provide special flights and we’ll assist you with that information.

Q. Are there any specialised sorts of insurance policies that you recommend people consider if doing something a little riskier than normal, like adventure sports or bungy jumping or going on a tour to Iraq?

A. Worldnomads.com covers about 200 adventure sports and activities automatically – some require a higher level of policy and an additional premium. This differs depending on the country of residence, so check our page on adventure activities to discover exactly what is and isn’t covered.

If we don’t cover it, travellers need specialist cover – again, people should check with their sport or activity’s local association for arrangements they have.

Tours to Iraq, well, Iraq is one of about a dozen countries for which we won’t sell you a policy. That’s because several foreign governments have declared them too unsafe for any type of leisure travel: they’re Do Not Travel countries. People are definitely going to need specialist coverage for that trip!

Q. Once people decide they’re travelling, how soon should they buy travel insurance before they travel?

A. Many travellers leave buying insurance till the last minute – literally at the airport! Luckily Worldnomads.com is an online business so you can purchase a policy while you’re in the check-in queue if you have to. In fact you can buy Worldnoamds.com insurance after you’ve departed. Not all companies offer that!

But waiting till the last minute means you’re putting your substantial travel investment at risk. In fact you’re missing out on free coverage. You only pay for coverage for the duration of your travel, but there are many benefits available prior to departure: if you, a travel companion or a close family member falls ill and you’re unable to travel, we cover cancelation or rearrangement costs. If your employer cancels your travel, again, we have out of pocket cancelation and rearrangement costs covered.

Travel insurance is like auto insurance – you can’t buy it and claim after you’ve crashed your car. Imagine instead of a car crash we’re talking about a volcanic eruption which closes your Iceland hotels and tours and you’ve lost all those 10% deposits you’ve already paid!

Traveler A will be able to make a claim on his worldnomads.com policy. Traveler B rings up worldnomads.com to take out a policy, and is told it covers everything except the volcanic eruption because that is no longer an unforeseen event. He’s lost his deposits.

Q. Are there any special insurance rules people should know about?

A. Yes, many companies insist that you purchase your policy while still in your country of residence. Worldnomads.com does not and we were the first to offer this.

You can purchase insurance with us after your departure from outside your home country. That means if you’ve forgotten, or you want to extend your trip, you can continue your coverage with us.

Q. Do people need to have any special documentation ready when they sit down at their computers to book their insurance online? Should they pack first? Should they itemise everything they have in their luggage and know its value?

Itemising belongings is a great idea, and will certainly help if people have to make a claim. But it’s not necessary prior to purchasing a policy. Our premiums are defined by the level of benefit we offer, not by the cost of the trip or the size of the suitcase.

Q. Are there any special documents people should take with them when they travel? A packing list? Their insurance policy? If their luggage is stolen or lost, what do they need to get it replaced?

That itemised list made prior to departure is now going to come in very handy. Travellers will also need some sort of proof of ownership of their belongings: sales receipts, guarantee cards, product manuals. That can be hard when it’s a pair of socks you’ve owned for 5 years, so we will accept photographic evidence of you using the item.

So, here’s a tip: back to that itemised list… take a photo of everything that’s going in your suitcase. Keep the image in the cloud so you can access it from anywhere in the world, and attach it to your claim.

Great idea to have your policy with you, the certificate of insurance is emailed to you, so keep that in cloud storage too. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have it, or can’t recall your policy number, our customer service agents will find you in the system.

Q. Why should people take out insurance with World Nomads?

A. There’s another factor with Worldnomads.com – people not only get travel insurance they get to be part of a community of like-minded travellers. We offer unique opportunities to our community to explore their boundaries though our scholarships programs. We have a Q&A forum where you can learn from other travellers just like you, or help others by sharing your knowledge.

More than any other travel insurance brand, Worldnomads.com believes in travel. This is reflected in our six pillars of travel; we believe the purpose of travel is to: seek new experiences, learn new skills, connect locally, give back, stay safe and informed, and to share stories.

You can book your travel insurance with World Nomads in the box below. As partners, we earn a commission from your booking, so you are helping to support Grantourismo.

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