get travel insurance for your trip abroad

The Ultimate Guide to Buying Travel Insurance

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 choosing your travel insurance

Doing an internship abroad can be one of the most rewarding experiences of your life as well as do wonders for your career. It will help you gain access to a global network of employers, build practical international experience in your field of choice and give you the opportunity to not only travel but also live abroad for an extended period of time. But before you pack your bags and head out the door, there’s one essential step you need to consider: travel insurance. Since most health programs don’t cover you overseas and credit cards offer really limited protection, travel insurance is something you should definitely consider to protect you against the unknown. We realise that buying a travel insurance plan can be a very daunting process which is why we’re giving you some advice to help smooth out the process.


Why travel insurance

Travel insurance is designed to cover unexpected medical emergencies and events such as trip cancellation, your personal effects, lost, stolen or damaged luggage by an airline, and other related losses incurred while travelling. There are different levels of coverage depending on the insurance plan, the insurance company you purchase with or the size of your deductible (excess). Some policies offer lower and higher medical expense options. What’s included and what not varies from one insurance plan and insurance company to another, as does the list of exclusions, that is, circumstances in which the insurance might not apply. We advise you to first think about your circumstances and then research and compare different insurance plans to find the one that suits you best.


First steps

get travel insurance before you go abroadBefore going online to research the different types of insurance policies out there, you need to take into consideration a few factors. Keep in mind that each traveller has different needs. These depend not only on their age, but also on the value of their luggage, the type of travelling they do, how often they like to travel, how risk-averse they are, already existing coverage they might have… Insurance plans bought will thus vary from person to person and each traveller should buy the policy that best fits their needs and situation.

Travel insurance is designed to cover you from the moment you leave home until you return and will therefore usually be more expensive the longer your trip duration is. However, with some policies you have the chance to decide what you want to ensure in terms of trip cancellation coverage. That means, you can decide whether you want to insure all, some, or none of your prepaid and non-refundable trip which includes airfare, hotel accommodations, tours, excursions… Also, if you’re planning more than one holiday in a year, you might want to consider buying an annual multi-trip policy as these turn out to be generally cheaper than if you buy a new travel insurance for every single trip.

Some policies will only cover nearby destinations. For those travelling further away, make sure you buy a worldwide policy or one that specifically covers your destination. Also, be aware that some travel insurance policies will not cover you if you travel to a country where your government advises against all or all but essential travel. Do your research before buying a plan and make sure your insurance policy will cover your destination and won’t be affected by any Government warnings.

If you’re travelling with others, a family or group policy may be suitable and cheaper than individual policies for each travelling member. If you buy insurance on behalf of others, make sure you include any relevant medical details. The age of travellers is also important as travel insurance policy prices vary depending on age. Prices will usually become more expensive the older you get, whilst some policies offer free insurance for people underage so keep that in mind when travelling with children.

protect yourself abroadWhat possessions you’re taking with you might also be a factor to consider. Before buying a new insurance that covers all your goods, check to see whether your household contents insurance or any other policies you might have (i.e. from bank account/credit card) already cover loss of items you take away from your home. If you already have an existing policy covering your goods, find out whether the limits and excesses are appropriate for the value of possessions you are taking on holiday. If you think your existing insurance is not enough or you don’t have one yet, then go for a travel insurance that offers insurance for your personal effect. Especially if you plan on taking high-value possessions such as your smartphone, camera and laptop, make sure the coverage is high enough or opt for a specialized insurance for electronics. Also make sure what the regulation for personal possessions is as some policies will expect you to report any loss to the police within 24 hours and show proof of notification when making the claim to your insurance company.

If you intend to rent cars, motorcycles, jet skis or any other motorized vehicle, you should also check with your policy whether these will be covered. These might sometimes have to be bought as an ‘extra’ when buying your insurance plan. Also, seek advice on any restrictions that may apply, such as riding a motorcycle without your home countries motorcycle license, or not wearing appropriate safety gear.

Most policies will not cover certain sports or leisure activities. Check your policy carefully for what activities are already covered. If you plan on taking part, for example, in more extreme sports such as bungee jumping, jet skiing, skydiving, or any other adventurous activities, you will most likely have to buy an additional policy, usually offered by most insurance companies as an ‘extra’. If you’re going on a cruise you will generally have to buy an ‘extra’ cover as well due to the difficulty in getting travellers to hospital for treatment. 


What to look out for

When comparing and buying travel insurance, there are a few things you should pay attention to. We’ve already mentioned a few things you should keep in mind like whether it covers all kinds of transportation, what kind of activities are included, the value of your goods… If you travel by plane, make sure your policy will cover lost, damaged, or stolen luggage. Do not rely on compensation from an airline if it loses your luggage as, by law, airlines only have to pay a specified minimum value per kilo of lost luggage and will unlikely cover the full value of your possessions. Type and value of medical treatment included also varies from one plan to another. Check to find out about the extent of your medical coverage such as whether the policy will still cover medical treatment continued in your home country or only expenses incurred abroad. You want to make sure the plan will cover any medical treatments you might find yourself needing, and always plan for the unexpected. Pay-out time and requirements should also be looked at. Make sure you know when you need to submit a written report of the incident (is it within a reasonable time?) and what supporting documents you need to attach. Also read through the cancellation policy of the insurance as not all policies will cover cancellation of flights and accommodation.

Generally, insurance companies offer different types of plans. Each plan will have certain items included, and other items that need to be bought additionally. Most insurance policies will have the following included:

  • -Cancellation / interruption of the trip
  • -Medical insurance
  • -Emergency evacuations
  • -Luggage cover
  • -Flight insurance (cancellations and delays)

intern abroad travel insuranceThese items usually make up what is known as ‘comprehensive insurance’, which you can usually purchase as a package. Cancelled trips are a primary concern for most travellers and whilst policies provide coverage for cancellation and interruptions, the reason behind the cancellation makes a difference. Cancellations due to medical reasons need to be documented by a doctor. Other covered reasons for trip cancellation/interruption may include hurricane or natural disaster strikes destination, bankruptcy or financial default of travel company, terrorism or mandatory evacuation at the destination, death or hospitalization of destination host, home or business damaged, vandalized, or burglarized, jury duty, a required court appearance, or military redeployment, required to work, terminated, or transferred, victim of felonious assault prior to trip, traffic accident prior to trip, theft of passport or visa prior to trip, school year extension, legal separation or divorce, loss of accommodations abroad due to an illness or death of host family or friends, among others. However, each policy has their own ‘accepted’ reasons for cancellation so always look them up.

Some insurance policies will have a list of exclusions they won’t cover you for such as severe weather conditions or natural disasters, acts of god (i.e. Icelandic volcano causing travel chaos), acts of war, terrorism, uprising or civil commotion… Choose the travel insurance policy with the least exclusion and pay attention to them when reading an insurance policy. Alternatively, you can also consider purchasing optional ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage which lets you cancel for any reason and receive reimbursement.

Other things that most policies do not cover include sport and adventure activities with high risk, travel to high-risk countries (check whether your government has explicit warnings for that destination), pre-existing medical conditions (diabetes...), accidental death and dismemberment, rental car damage, damage to property or injury you cause someone else (personal liability), among others. These can usually be bought additionally as an ‘extra’.

Travel insurance is not intended for permanent residence overseas. In this case you might want to consider buying insurance from a local provider overseas. If you plan on only staying there for a certain period of time (temporary residence), ‘long-stay’ travel insurance may be available to cover extended periods of continuous travel. Carefully check the maximum duration allowed under any policy you consider buying.

When planning to work overseas, it is very important to make sure that the travel insurance policy will cover it. Many policies do not as they are only intended to cover leisure travel and will not pay if you have an accident whilst working, so always double check whether work will be covered and, if not, buy an appropriate coverage. When working overseas you should also make sure you get coverage for personal liability, accidental death and dismemberment, income protection and additional coverage in case you travel with expensive tools and equipment. Note that working overseas includes paid, unpaid, volunteering, and charitable work.

The most important rule when buying travel insurance is to always make sure what is included in your policy and to which extend.

get insurance

A great travel insurance plan will always include the following provisions:

  • -cover most countries in the world
  • -some coverage for your electronics (also have the option for a higher coverage limit as an extra)
  • -cover injury and sudden illnesses
  • -24/7 emergency service and help
  • -cover lost, damage or stolen possessions such as baggage, documents, cameras, etc
  • -cover cancellations such as hotel bookings, flights, and other transportation bookings
  • -cover emergencies (whether personal or because of the country you’re visiting) that cause you to head home early
  • -have financial protection if any company you are using goes bankrupt and you are stuck in another country



To make it even easier for you, we’re summarising what your travel insurance policy should include depending on your needs.

If you want payment for expenses if you get sick or injured during your trip include travel medical and accident coverage. To be taken to the nearest hospital or flown home if necessary include an emergency evacuation and repatriation coverage. If you want reimbursement if you get sick and have to cancel or end your trip early, or if you want to be prepared for the unknown in case your trip gets cancelled or interrupted, add a trip cancellation and trip interruption coverage. If you’re looking for payment for lost, stolen, or damaged luggage or goods add a theft and lost coverage, and if you want payment for rental car damage include a car collision insurance (CDW).

We also recommend buying your travel insurance as soon as possible because insurance only applies from the day you buy it. Every day you wait, there’s a chance your trip might get cancelled and you might not be covered. For example, if you buy your insurance after having gone to the doctor because you’re sick and find out after buying your insurance that you need to cancel the trip, your insurance won’t cover you because you went to the doctor before you bought it. Also, getting the cheapest travel insurance policy is not always the best strategy as this could cost you a lot more in the long run if you do not get the right policy for yourself. Note that some travel insurance is reimbursement-only. That means you’ll pay out-of-pocket for your expenses, then submit the paperwork to your insurer to get your money back.

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