I should start by saying I am not a travel insurance expert. I am not able to recommend a product or a service to you. This article is intended only as an opinion piece based on what I’ve learned. Do your own research and find out more for yourself. 

To put it simply, travel insurance is a good idea in case something goes wrong. But you shouldn’t just buy the cheapest and hope for the best.

Insurance is one of those annoying travel costs, because you do not appear to get anything for your money until something happens. It is a gamble, however the stakes when you lose are often vastly more than you expect. Luckily for me, but unfortunately for this article, I have only had to make one claim and that was because a cyclone rolled into Rarotonga just as I was heading there. The claim was only for a night of accommodation I missed out on and was paid quickly and easily.

However, I make sure I have adequate cover for every trip I go on and this is why:

Do not wait until you're at the plane before thinking about travel insurance

Do not wait until you’re at the plane before thinking about travel insurance


If it isn’t at the top of your list, then it should be. Losing your luggage or having your camera stolen is nothing compared to paying a life-crippling bill to get adequate medical care. I want to be confident my insurance covers the cost of getting me to a decent hospital in whatever state I am in.

A lot of travel insurers will cover you for “Unlimited emergency overseas medical assistance & hospital expenses” but it pays to check your limit. It is very easy to hit a $100,000 when you’re in an overseas hospital. They won’t care what kind of medical cover you have at home. It is all about what kind of cover you have when you’re overseas.

Some countries have reciprocal healthcare agreements. New Zealand, Australia and the United Kingdom, for example, have such an agreement. Your country may have such an agreement with your destination.

It is a good idea to check if your insurance provider will cover emergency rescue and evacuation home.

Also keep in mind, pre-existing medical conditions are rarely covered.


If this world finally gets lucky enough to knock me off, I want to know that the cost of getting my body back to New Zealand will be covered. I am sure the people closest to me will have enough on their minds without worrying about that as well.


This is usually where a lot of travel insurance gets murky. There are a lot of exclusions and you should check them before you travel so you know.

Many insurance exclusions will be based on the status of a country at the time insurance was purchased. For example, if you are travelling into a zone that has a travel warning due to violent protests, you may not be covered for any related disruptions.

Here are a few common exclusions.

  • Dissolution of a travel operator. You have to be careful you understand the difference between Travel service provider, travel agent, tour wholesaler, tour operator or booking agent. This is something you should check with your insurer.
  • Death of a family member who lives outside your country of residence or due to a previously known medical condition.
  • Breaking up with your travel partner
  • Operating a rental car illegally
  • Cancellation or delays in scheduled transport under certain conditions
  • Acts of terror
  • Acts of military movement

The list goes on…


I travel with a laptop and a camera. While they’re not terribly expensive pieces of equipment, the cost of replacing them would put a dent in my travel fund. Not to mention everything else. I look for insurance that can get me up and going again as quickly as possible.

It is a good idea to check the maximum dollar amount paid for individual items. For example, some insurers will pay $500 if a laptop is stolen and a similar amount for a camera. If you want a like-for-like replacement, you will often need to increase the individual item cover.

You will also need to take care of your items. Leaving your possessions in a car overnight, even if it is locked, will likely result in your claim being rejected. You should check your insurer’s requirements.

Many insurers will also provide compensation for baggage that disappears into the black hole of the airport luggage handling. This amount will vary, so if you have a lot of expensive clothes, make sure you have adequate cover for them.


Say you have one of those moments, when you think “Did I leave the iron on?” and you actually did leave the iron on and it burns down your guesthouse. Having adequate liability cover may help if you’re sued for damages.


If you’ve ever rented a car, then you’ll know the drill. You check the website and they tell you the cost is $12 a day, then in the next sentence they remind you the excess if you crash is $5000, However if you purchase their “super premium reduced excess cover” for an extra $19 a day the excess drops to $500.

Yeah, piss off. While it is an inconvenience, and you need to have the available cash to cover it, travel insurance can cover part of the excess, usually for significantly less than a car rental company. Check the amount of excess they cover while purchasing it. Do not wait until after you’ve crashed to find they only cover half of it. This can save you money on rental cars, but as I mentioned, you may have to have the available money to cover it for the interim.


  • Alcohol and Drugs Exclusions. Often hidden in the fine print is that many insurers will not cover any claim resulting directly or indirectly from being under the influence of any intoxicating liquor or drugs except those prescribed to you by a medical adviser. If you’re drunk, fall down some stairs and end up in hospital, you may not be covered.
  • Purchasing before you leave vs after you’ve left. You will need to make sure your insurer knows if you have departed already as this changes your policy agreement. Do not try to buy it after you’ve left and then hope they don’t notice. They will.
  • If you’re going to make a claim, tell your insurer asap. Check their PDS for more detail.
  • Keep everything. All receipts, all information packs, get names and dates and addresses and costs. Make sure you have the paper trail for everything.
  • Read the fine print. I know, insurance companies love to throw in a bunch of legal bullshit like spending three pages explaining who You are, who The Company is and the difference between Tour Operator and Tour Guide. But once you’ve managed to get through that, then you’ll be better off. Usually they will have an entire call centre team who exist only to provide you with this information.
  • Check how long you can travel for? For example, some credit cards offer travel insurance, however will only cover for a maximum of three months. Many others will have a maximum of 12 months.
  • Does it cover me for motorbike accidents? A lot of people want to hire scooters while they’re away but many travel insurers will not cover motorcycle accidents. Check this before you go!
  • Adventure sports cover. If you’re planning on going skydiving, check if you’re covered. Be aware of the risks. Same goes with diving, snowboarding and rock climbing. The fun police out in full force.


Travel insurance is a good idea in case something goes wrong. I make sure I have adequate cover whenever I am travelling. When I travel I use World Nomads. Here are some reasons why:


You can buy and claim online, even after you’ve left home. Travel insurance from WorldNomads.com is available to people from 140 countries. It’s designed for adventurous travellers with cover for overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities.


  1. Trusted reliable underwriters
    WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
  2. Value for money with the cover you need
    WorldNomads.com provides cover for what’s important for travellers from 140 countries. By focusing on what you need and leaving out what you don’t, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
  3. Flexibility when you need it most
    Had a change of plans? You can buy more cover or claim online while you are still away. You can even buy a World Nomads policy if you’re already travelling.
  4. Cover for a range of adventure activities
    From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.
  5. World Nomads keeps you travelling safely
    All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
  6. More than just great value travel insurance
    All WorldNomads.com members can learn the local lingo through a series of iPod & iPhone Language Guides and can stay in touch with family and friends with an online travel journal.
  7. Commitment to exceptional customer service
    World Nomads want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.