The service from local travel agency in Laos does not include travel insurance, we recommend you to buy one before boarding the flight to Laos.
It is the fact that, dealing with the unexpected is a part of traveling.
From an inconvenient mishap to a serious medical injury, it is smart to invest in a policy that protects you from an unexpected circumstance threatening to drain your wallet.
So let’s make it clear of what it is, and which plan suits you most.
What is Travel Insurance and How Does it Work?
Travel insurance is emergency care and services provided when unexpected things happen while traveling.
It typically covers you from the time you leave home to when you come back or reach your final destination.
Depending on the policy you buy, it could help you in the following example situations:
- When your luggage is lost or stolen at the Paris airport
- When you fall off a bike and get a concussion while riding around Luang Prabang
- When you get a parasite after eating exotic food in Vientiane
- When you need to cancel or cut your trip short because your grandmother passed away
If you find yourself in a dangerous medical situation requiring surgery or evacuation, you can work with your provider to pay for the costs.
For other incidents covered by your policy, you pay up front and are reimbursed afterward.
To determine if you really need to purchase a policy, however, it is a good idea to understand what all of the best travel insurance policies covers.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
Below is a quick rundown of what can be covered by good travel insurance. Please note: You’ll need to check each individual policy to determine what is specifically covered.
Emergency Medical Expenses
Now you may be thinking, “Hey I already have health insurance. Doesn’t my policy already cover me when I am overseas?” If you are traveling abroad, typically that is not the case and your policy may offer only limited coverage – if any at all.
Even if your home policy does provide coverage, you may still be charged outrageous fees on deductibles before your insurance company pays for your claim.
So in the event you need to seek medical attention, you may be on your own in covering the hospital bill without dedicated travel insurance.
In the event that a medical evacuation becomes necessary, a good policy covers the cost of transporting you the nearest suitable hospital for treatment.
Some plans even cover transportation costs to send children home and a visitor to watch over you should you require hospitalization.
Coverage on emergency evacuation due to a political crisis or natural disaster is also available for purchase on some insurance plans.
Trip Delays and Cancellation and Interruption
Oftentimes unforeseen circumstances may require you to delay or cancel your trip. Some examples of how your trip could get delayed or cancelled could be:
- Getting your passport stolen.
- Inclement weather or natural disasters hitting your destination.
- You lose your job all of the sudden.
- You’re called in for military obligations.
- You or someone at home gets sick or injured.
- Your traveling documents or baggage is stolen or misplaced.
- Civil unrest breaks out in your destination and it is deemed unsafe to travel there.
In the event you need to cancel or delay your trip, travel insurance can help with reimbursement for money already paid for bookings (i.e. flight changes, which can be costly!), fees charged for rearranging your travel plans or canceling them entirely.
Flight delays can be a pain. Luckily, travel insurance makes them more bearable by covering unforeseen costs during a delay.
If your flight is delayed or canceled due to severe weather, mechanical breakdowns, or even a labor strike, travel insurance can cover hotel stays, meals, and local transportation costs.
In the event of a catastrophic flight disaster, insurance providers pay out benefits for accidental death and dismemberment. Obviously you hope that never happens!
Lost or Stolen Baggage
Waiting at baggage claim is always a pain. If baggage is delayed, many plans reimburse you for essential items you need while waiting for your bags to be returned.
When purchasing a policy, definitely read carefully the “essential items” part of your coverage. They may not reimburse you for a pair of Oakley sunglasses you need to visit the beach.
If baggage is stolen, your provider can both provide and assist you in getting compensation from responsible parties as long as you report the theft in a timely manner.
What is not covered by travel insurance?
Travel insurance is pretty handy to have and covers a lot to get you out of a jam. It does have its limits, however, and you should be aware of what is not generally covered.
While each policy has different limitations, it is best to read the fine print to determine what is and is not covered by your insurance provider.
Pre-Existing Medical Conditions
Generally, pre-existing medical conditions are not covered. If you have a pre-existing condition, you must first get a quote to determine whether or not the condition will be covered.
While getting a quote, you need to disclose pre-existing medical conditions including recurring illnesses or injuries, on-going or lifelong conditions, previous surgeries and any conditions you are currently suffering from.
This information will then be used to determine if you need to pay any extra premium, a higher amount of money you pay towards a claim, or a medical related exclusion.
For policies where pre-existing conditions are not covered, you are covered for all the usual situations as long as they are unrelated to the medical condition you had or were aware of before you bought it.
Dangerous or Unstable Countries
If you are planning a trip to Afghanistan to explore its beautiful scenery and rich culture, don’t expect your trip to be covered by travel insurance!
Countries featuring government travel warnings are often not covered by travel insurance.
Your country of residence can also influence coverage in different countries. So it is also a good idea to inquire with your intended provider about which countries are covered under their plans.
They Don’t Cover Stupid
World Nomads puts this best by saying, “deliberately putting your life in danger is not covered.” This means things like picking fights with locals, racing your rental car, trekking across the Sahara desert with few provisions, and even picking up a sexually transmitted disease.
If you fancy risking your neck, it is likely you will be doing it on your own dime.
Accidents Resulting from Consuming Alcohol
When you are on vacation, it is understandable to cut loose and drink a bit…but there’s no coverage for overdoing it! If you are involved in an accident resulting in consuming too much alcohol, your claim is likely to be denied.
These accidents can include anything from driving under the influence, being hit by oncoming traffic while crossing a street, and even stumbling off a cliff (see “They Don’t Cover Stupid” above).
What Kinds of Plans are There?
Coverage depends on the type of plan you purchase. Each insurance provider tends to offer a number of plans that range from basic to comprehensive.
Benefits can also vary depending on your country of residence. When you have a provider in mind that you are thinking you would like to purchase a policy from, it is best to get a quote for full details on benefits.
Coverage also differs according to where you travel. If traveling domestically, an insurance policy will be less comprehensive, usually cheaper and will supplement your current insurance plan.
Plans geared toward international travel have far more benefits and are more expensive than plans geared for domestic travel.
The information below offers a general picture on what to expect from insurance providers.
What Does a Basic Plan Look Like?
For Whom: the healthy traveler that will be gone less than a month.
Budget plans are generally intended for budget conscious travelers. In comparison with other plans, it includes the bare essentials such as:
- Emergency medical coverage
- Emergency evacuation
- Travel delay
- Trip interruption or cancellation
- Baggage delay or loss
- 24-hour assistance
The length of coverage is also limited to a short span of time such as a month. If you’ll be traveling longer than a month or need more coverage, consider the next step up.
Looking at a Silver Plan
For Whom: the traveler who wants extended coverage for up to 180 days
If you feel like you need coverage that goes beyond what is covered in a basic plan, you can choose to opt for the next level, often referred to as a silver plan, or a more mid-range plan for your trip. Mid-range plans go beyond basic plans in terms of coverage.
For example, basic plans offer coverage of around $100,000 for medical evacuation. But for a mid-range plan, your coverage is extended to up to around $500,000. The length of coverage is also extended by a significant margin, around 180 days for some plans.
Checking out the Gold Plan
For Whom: the nomad who spends the majority of their time traveling.
If you are a traveler who tends to spend much time overseas and you cannot find a plan that covers you for the entire length of your trip, consider purchasing a “gold plan” or comprehensive travel insurance coverage.
Many comprehensive plans offer up to 365 days of coverage and are suitable for travelers without a primary insurance plan or a primary insurance plan with little or no coverage overseas.
The benefits offered on these plans are marginally higher than basic and mid-range plans.
For example coverage for medical evacuation can be as high as $1 million and your plan may feature additional coverage on items such as sports-related injuries, higher compensation for loss to more serious items like accidental death and repatriation of remains.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about the best travel insurance. Hopefully what you find here will answer your particular question but if not, feel free to leave your question in the comment section below.
What about for adventure-oriented travelers?
Riskier adventures can include activities like trekking, skiing and boarding, surfing, scuba diving, mountain biking, rock climbing and other activities that are more prone to medical injury.
While these “risky” activities can offer an incredible experience during your time abroad, unfortunately, they are not usually covered by general insurance plans.
Don’t despair, though! They can be purchased as part of your policy or as a policy upgrade.
When looking for coverage for riskier activities, look for “adventure travel coverage” or “adventure plus packs” on insurance websites.
I want to rent a car while abroad? Does travel insurance cover this?
Yes, there are some travel insurance policies that cover rental cars…for an extra cost. Many providers offer separate policies or upgrades on insurance plans. If purchasing a more expensive plan, rental car insurance may even be included.
Coverage generally covers collision, damage, and loss. Check the benefits of the policy you intend to purchase to determine if car rental insurance is included.
Is there insurance for my camera, phone and laptop?
Yes there is! Insuring your electronics is offered either as a separate policy or as a policy upgrade.
I have met so many travelers whom have had their iPhone, iPad, laptops, cameras or other important valuables stolen and it was a shame that most of them did not have coverage for their stolen gear.
When traveling to another country it is easy to become a target of professional pickpockets and insuring your gear allows you to get compensated the value of your electronics in the event of theft.
In addition to theft, many plans also cover damage to your items such as your camera or mobile phone. Some even cover water damage.
I am leaving on my trip tomorrow…can I still purchase insurance?
Luckily purchasing travel insurance is quick and often results in immediate coverage. Even if you leave buying travel insurance to the last minute before your trip, it is still quite easy to purchase a plan and then get out the door.
If you are currently abroad and are considering purchasing travel insurance, this is also possible. There may be special conditions that you need to consider, though.
If you are currently overseas it is best to ask your intended provider about these conditions and how they can affect your coverage.