A Little Insurance…Travel Insurance Options: IMG Patriot and World Nomads
The initial plan for this post was to research all of the different travel insurance options out on the market for budget backpackers and round the world travelers. And I did all of the research, but rather than providing a compare and contrast of the key travel insurance companies, I really came to the conclusion that World Nomads is simply the best on the market for gap-year or RTW travel.
After sussing out all of the negative and positive reviews on other backpacking and travel sites, it’s pretty clear that the while every single insurance company has some negative reviews, there are far more raves and success stories for World Nomads. That being said, at the bottom of this review I’ll list the three other travel insurance companies that made the cut, right below World Nomads.
UPDATE: This post was updated in June 2012 to reflect experiences from recent travels, and also recommend IMG Patriot for families and couples, though I still love WN as a backpacker option. More details below! ~Shannon
World Nomads’ Credibility?
Three reasons why I believe that World Nomads has a lot of credibility in the market:
- The only travel insurance recommended by Lonely Planet.
- Backed by very strong, trusted, and reliable licensed underwriters; the underwriters are recognizable names in all 150 countries where the insurance is offered.
- I used it for my 2009 RTW travels and I know for a fact a vast majority of the travel community of bloggers also use World Nomads.
Adventure Activities Covered
Before I left on my own RTW trip I made a list of all of the crazy and wild adventure activities that I wanted to participate in while traveling – then I used the site’s A-Z List of Adventure Activities to find out if they were covered in a World Nomads policy; each and every one was. While not all of yours may be covered, the complete list is comprehensive, online, and broken down by country.
Covering the Important Things (and smaller things too)
A World Nomads policy provides levels of coverage for five key areas: overseas medical care, medical evacuation (Medevac), baggage claims, theft on some belongings and electronics (read the policy details!), trip cancellation coverage, and more. The company even has a Travel Safety Alerts subscription service.
Making Insurance Claims Online
A huge selling point for me was the fact that all of the process can be done online; the internet is ubiquitous and I loved knowing that all of the information I needed was laid out for me on the World Nomads site. And since I thoroughly read through my policy before I bought it, I sent the support team an email asking for clarification (those policies can get confusing!); they emailed me back within a day with a detailed answer. In addition to buying a policy online, you can extend your insurance policy indefinitely or even buy one when you’re already traveling.
Here’s a little post I wrote when I first made the choice to go with World Nomads for my travel insurance –all the reasons still hold true today.
Other Options and Tips
UPDATE in JUNE 2012: I left in October of 2011 with my 11-year old niece and traveled Asia with her. That left me with a unique challenge for travel insurance. I LOVED World Nomads and still stand behind them 100%, and if I head out on my own, for more solo travel, I will likely use WN. But, for my niece, a family plan at IMG Patriot had great rates, coverage that worked for both of us, and I liked their online system a lot. With my niece in tow, I knew I wouldn’t be doing some of the more adventurous activities, so I didn’t mind switching to IMG. To this day, I have been incredibly fortunate and never had to make a claim, but trusted travel friends have used and vouched for both of these companies as great choices.
And if neither of these sound good… Global Travel Shield is the insurance company used by American Express, so it might be a good third one to check out too!
Below are several tips to consider when buying travel insurance:
- Don’t buy “travel protection,” this term is a sneaky way for unlicensed companies to offer travel insurance – it’s likely not valid, so move along.
- Only buy from your travel agent if he/she is low-pressure and offers you several choices. If it’s a high-pressure situation they are likely receiving hefty commissions to sell you what could be an inferior product.
- Take your time, research, read the policies and ask every question you want answered before you buy.
- Ask if the insurance is primary or secondary insurance; you want primary. Secondary insurance means you must file an insurance claim with your homeowners or medical insurance first.
While all of the information in this post is correct to my knowledge, I strongly encourage you to do your own research and verify all aspects of your travel insurance; I cannot be held responsible for your use of any of the information provided here.