Choosing a travel insurance provider can seem like a daunting task. I mean where do you start and what do you look for? Not all insurance providers offer the right type of cover for you.
Long term travel is exciting. Insurance is boring. But buying a travel insurance policy is critical for every adventure.
Choosing a long term travel insurance policy is a bit of a minefield. The providers offer so many choices it’s hard to know where to start.
We know. We’ve been on the road for almost 18 months now and choosing the travel insurance policy to best suit our needs took a lot of research.
So here we’ve cut through all the lingo and laid out everything you need to know to choose the best long term travel insurance policy for your trip.
What is long term travel insurance?
Although much like any travel policy, long term travel insurance gives greater flexibility. You can extend your cover while travelling and add extra cover if you need it.
Most importantly, you don’t need to be in your home country to take out a new policy or renew your cover.
What do I need to consider when choosing travel insurance?
Before considering any travel insurance, make sure you’ve considered the essentials:
- Where are you travelling to? Do you want single country cover? An entire region? Worldwide cover? Or Worldwide cover with USA (USA is always more expensive because of the high cost of healthcare).
- How will you travel? Are you driving, flying or taking the bus? If you plan to fly between destinations throughout your long term trip, check with the insurance providers if they cover cancellations, delays and lost baggage for flights you haven’t yet booked.
- What activities will you do? Most travel insurance policies cover loads of activities. Some more adventurous activities like hiking at altitude, scuba diving, rock climbing and other extreme sports are excluded as standard so its important to check the detail.
What types of travel insurance can I choose?
Types of travel insurance include:
- Travel health insurance
- Evacuation coverage
- Travel insurance
It important to have good cover for your health. you have no idea what’s around the corner and regardless of how careful you are, illness and accidents happen. Medical bills add up quickly and you need an appropriate policy to pay these for you.
Evacuation insurance is especially important if you plan to spend time is countries without modern medical facilities or in remote regions. Evacuation costs can get pretty high so consider a minimum of $100,000 cover.
Some trips, like an Antarctic cruise, insist you have evacuation insurance and will want to see evidence before they allow you to board.
All other aspect of travel insurance cover things like your personal belongings, delayed flights and lost baggage.
More often than not, when taking out a travel health insurance policy, it includes aspects of these as standard and at no extra cost.
What do I need my travel insurance to cover?
To work out our travel insurance needs, we consider the unlikely events that, should they occur, would ruin us financially.
If we had an accident abroad and needed to be evacuated to our home country for medical care, could we afford this? No way!
The bill would run into tens of thousands and we’d be left in a bit of a predicament. So we make sure we’re covered for this. As unlikely as the scenario may be.
If we had a camera stolen, would that break us financially? Not really.
It’d annoy the hell out of us and replacing some of our camera gear would set us back a few thousand pounds. But an insurance policy would cost us hundreds, every year.
We have enough of a financial safety net to be able to replace all our personal items in the unlikely event something catastrophic happens.
So we accept the risk, take precautions wherever possible and save hundreds of pounds on our travel insurance each year.
And we still have the peace of mind that we won’t be bankrupt if the worst happens.
How to decide what you should include in your cover
The first time considering a long term travel insurance policy we recommend you follow these steps:
- Make a list of every insurable event you can think of (missed flights, stolen property, health insurance etc)
- Make a note of how much each item would cost you personally without insurance
- Get a quote for insuring each item with no excess (so you can recover the full replaceable value if you need to claim)
- Now get a quote only for the things that would ruin you financially (with the highest possible excess)
- Calculate the difference in the premiums
- Buy the low price insurance policy and back the difference every year – this is your personal insurance fund to use in the event someone steals your camera or some other event you’re not insured for.
Chances are, you’ll be quids in. And so while the policy gives you peace of mind, you don’t actually want to be in a position where you need to claim.
How to renew when away from your home country
Most travel insurance providers insist taking out cover before leaving your country of residence. This is why airports have so many last minute buy insurance machines installed.
But for long term travel, it’s not practical to pop home once a year to buy another policy.
Providers of specialist long term travel insurance understand these challenges. They make renewing on the road easy, just as though you weren’t away at all.
Long term travel insurance companies
When it comes to choosing your travel insurance provider, the right choice is a personal one based on all the things we’ve already discussed.
Some providers offer higher values and wider cover as standard, for a higher premium.
Others may offer lower values and more narrow cover for a lower premium but with the option to add on optional extras to suit your needs. Each has its place and what is best is unique to you and your own needs.
So let’s take a look at these 2 market leaders for long term travel insurance.
World Nomads travel insurance
These guys have been around for a long time and cover all the essentials long term and global travel.
With World Nomads policies, you can even take out the policy after you’ve left home.
They offer pretty good extreme sports cover in their most expensive package.
There are a few things to consider before committing to buy a World Nomads policy too:
- World Nomads only cover trip home once throughout the full length of the policy
- While discounts are available, they are only applicable when you order and pay for the whole period in advance. The discount prices aren’t available for renewed policies.
- World Nomads uses different insurance underwriters depending on your country of residence. As result, prices and terms vary so make sure to read the fine print
- For UK and European travellers, World Nomads is an expensive option – consider True Traveller or SafetyWing instead.
Must read: 19 common travel insurance mistakes & how to avoid them
True Traveller travel insurance
The best long term travel insurance provider for UK and EU citizens we could find.
We use True Traveller and they offer good value on long term policies and allow us to extend for another year with a 10% discount.
Unlike World Nomads, True Traveller has no limit on the number of trips home you can make.
SafetyWing travel medical insurance
SafetyWing travel medical insurance offer great value and allow you to take out a flexible policy.
Rather than pay upfront each year, you can pay each month. It can work like a subscription, you can choose your start date and cancel any time.
There’s no cap on the duration of a trip and no need to know how long you’ll be travelling in advance or what destinations you’ll visit. Pretty important for long term travellers!
World Nomads and True Traveller – price comparison
World Nomads, SafetyWing and True Traveller’s offerings are slightly different from each other so it’s somewhat unfair on both insurers to conclude which provider offers best value for money based on one set of requirements.
We’ve just obtained a couple of quotes to try to illustrate a few differences.
Based on a couple in their 40s who want cover of £5m for medical expenses, True Traveller quoted £720 and World Nomads quoted £840 for 12 months continuous cover. SafetyWing quoted £96 for 28 days cover – the equivalent of £1251.
A pretty big price difference. There are a few extra benefits and higher limits offered by World Nomads’ policy not covered by True Traveller. SafetyWing include 1 child under 10 year old free and allow you to pay monthly. Whether these benefits are important to you is for you to decide.
Now the same couple will turn 50 soon – eek! The World Nomad price increases to £1096 compared to True Traveller’s new quote of £770 and SafetyWing’s £1955. Still the cover differs so we’re still not comparing apples and pears.
World Nomads, True Traveller and SafetyWing are renowned as the best travel insurance providers for long term travellers. Even so, our advice is to make sure you’re clear about the cover you need before you compare prices.
Being over insured only costs money you could otherwise save for your trip.
Being under insured could give you a nasty shock at the worst possible time. And don’t forget to read this article on all you need to know about travel insurance to help you avoid costly mistakes.
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