Travelling to China or South East Asia, you’d be forgiven to think that healthcare costs aren’t that much compared to the west (especially the states). You’d be right in thinking that, simple things like seeing a doctor for a stomach bug, getting medicines for aches & pains, rashes and mosquito bites. Most medical care in Asia is cheap, even by UK standards! When Americans travel to Asia, they must have a field day!
But, there are certain costs associated with falling ill or getting into accidents that you will need Long Stay Travel Insurance for. For example, if you get into a serious accident in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar (Burma) or even Vietnam. The likelihood is you’re going to want treatment in Bangkok, which is the closest city in SE Asia with western standard medical facilities and care. That immediate care you seek is a long way away and cutting your tour / holiday / travels short may have financial repercussions which can be covered with a basic travel insurance plan.
If you got into a serious incident, then your going to need an Air Ambulance, which costs tens of thousands of dollars per hour. That’s when you seriously will be glad to have taken out insurance before leaving.
An example when we used our travel insurance was when we stayed in Koh Phangan, Thailand. Yes that is where the Full Moon party is, but that’s NOT where we got our injuries. Everyone visiting the island hires a moped / motorbike because, it’s a large island where taxi’s are infrequent and expensive.
We took a trip up into the hills to find a way down to a small little beach we had read about. It had been raining the previous few days non-stop. When I started going down a muddy hill, I felt the brakes seize up. Within a few seconds both of us came straight off the moped and onto the unpaved road. It was horrendous, and we were miles away from any medical centre.
We had to get back on the bike and drive into town, where there are limited hospital / clinics available to tourists. Because of the fact the island is.. an island off another island.. The price for being fixed up in a private clinic and the medicine, came to hundreds of £ pounds. Of which we could not have afforded to be without medium-term. Luckily our insurance covered us and the damages that were sustained on the bike. That was lucky, because in Koh Phangan, the island is run by the mafia, and the people renting out mopeds to westerners will charge you 400 percent mark-up on any small damages you have made to the bikes (even a small scratch). Our’s wasn’t in the best condition, so that was all covered by our insurance provider.
We had booked a flight home months in advance through Norwegian Air. It was an indirect flight from Bangkok to Stockholm on the new Boeing Dreamliner. I really wanted to try flying on one of these planes, especially as Norwegian Air had an offer on, that made the flight just over £300 per person (then £50 extra to get from Stockholm to London Gatwick).
In hindsight, I should have reviewed the really negative reviews about Norwegian before booking with them. In fact, if I had listened to Cristabel then we would have flown with Ukraine Air instead and had no issues.
The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner is meant to be a great new plane, with a more pleasant environment, more room and bigger windows. However most of the planes are still having problems with various things. Which has resulted in carriers like Norwegian at one point taking their planes out of the sky for up to a month for servicing and repairs.
We woke up on the morning of our flight early. Cristabel checked it’s status and saw the flight was simply cancelled. How can this be we said? So what were our options.. We just wanted to get back home in time for Christmas with our families..
The only option for us was to fly out on more expensive direct flight with British Airways a little later that day. That meant shelling out over £600 each on top of what we had already paid Norwegian Air. Luckily I had a credit card and so booking it wasn’t a problem. However with travel insurance, this meant we could claim for the expenses incurred and the extra we had to pay out to fly home with BA.
I hope those points will help you with choosing the right travel insurance for backpacking around the world. Because we are from the UK, we have a good idea on how much travel insurance should cost British Backpackers. For other nationalities, make sure you shop around and compare the fine prints on every travel insurance policy. There are some ways in which they will catch you out and you may end up with a useless travel insurance policy.
Below is our pick of the top insurance providers for people based in the UK and looking to travel worldwide. Our example quotes are based solely on travel worldwide, but excluding any stopovers / trips to the US & Canada. You can view each of the insurers via the provided links at the bottom and compare yourself.
|Alpha Travel||Navigator Travel||Go Walkabout Travel||Direct Line|
|Quote Details||2 x Travellers
Worldwide (exc. USA)
1 Year (1/3/2014 – 28/2/2015)
|Claim excess amount||£100||from £75 – £100||£75||£75|
|Insurance available for Worldwide inc. USA?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Basic activities included?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Personal liability cover||£1,000,000||£1,000,000||£1,000,000||£2,000,000|
|Medical emergency cover||£10,000,000||£5,000,000||£1,000,000||£10,000,000|
|Total cost, per person||
|How much per day?||36p*||£1*||45p*||53p*|
|Website||Click Here||Click Here||Click Here||Click Here|
|Notes||Excess can be increased to £250, making premium cheaper, price above includes Activity pack 2 (£63) which includes Elephant Trekking.||Quote comes automatically with limited cover for travel / stop-overs in USA.||Included Activity Pack 2 with Elephant Trekking cover and other activities. Longstay cover available which includes £5,000,000 emergency medical cover + £2,000,000 personal liability cover.||Quote includes personal money cover (up to £500) and Travel Accommodation cover (up to £5,000)|
* Please note, quotes were generated in February 2014 for 2 people travelling together. Quotes were correct at time of writing. Costs of insurance will be higher per person for single travellers. Additional cover is available from all providers. Worldwide (including US, Canada, Mexico) cover is available from all providers for an additional premium fee.
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