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Cheapest Travel Insurance for a couple??

Posted by kgroarke on 12/2/2011 at 20:28

Hi, heading to SE asia for over 3 months and Just wondering if anyone knows off had what the best Travel Insurance would be and if there is any deals for buying it as a couple?? any suggestions appreciated

#1 kgroarke has been a member since 12/2/2011. Posts: 17

Posted by somsai on 12/2/2011 at 22:29

your title said cheapest, so I'll answer for that question, "best" or a "deal" I'll leave up to your interpretation.

I and my wife and now the two of us and our kids have never bought travel insurance. Caution, good judgement, and prudence are free.

We don't travel with expensive stuff or wear expensive clothes or have expensive backpacks or cameras or computers and toys, no jewelry, we don't make ourselves a target for crime.

When riding motorcycles we drive cautiously and slowly just like the locals do, we adopt the unwritten rules of the road of the country we are in instead of complaining about people being on the wrong side, entering traffic without looking, allowing animals and children to run free, driving smaller vehicles off the road.

We carefully asses all places to swim to see if they are safe for underwater rocks, dangerous currents, broken glass etc. We walk carefully when it is slippery.

The few times one of us has gotten sick or hurt we avail ourselves of the very cheap and fairly good local medical care.

Billions live in Asia without travel insurance, twenty years ago no one bought travel insurance, somehow we all survive.

#2 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566

Posted by exacto on 12/2/2011 at 23:54

I agree with somsai that caution, good judgement, and prudence are free, and that using them can go a long way towards not needing to file a travel insurance claim. Unfortunately, while you can guarantee your own caution and good judgement, it is near impossible to control that of others.

Somsai also makes an excellent point about not travelling with expensive stuff or wearing expensive clothes or taking anything on the trip that you'd be sorry if it were lost or stolen.

With those two nuggets of wisdom in mind, we usually opt for a modest travel insurance policy. We don't go for the comprehensive package plans out there, which include coverage for all kinds of things from lost or stolen items to travel delays and more. They are too expensive - largely because they offer coverage for lots of things we just don't need.

We usually wind up buying a medical plan policy, and particularly one with a good emergency medical evacuation clause. Buses do crash. Building do collapse. Not often of course, in fact so rarely that it is reasonable to manage the risk exactly the way somsai mentions above. But my own sense of caution is to purchase that medical only plan with a good evac clause, particularly since it usually costs about $1 a day or less, depending on the levels of coverage and deductable. It is essentially catastrophic coverage only, which, compared to the cost of our air ticket to get to Asia, seems like a reasonable expense. Truth is we don't expect to ever use the coverage we buy. But we do expect that should something really crappy happen, this coverage will help provide short-term medical assistance and protect us from a long-term, devastating financial impact.

You'll also find that the cost of coverage varies greatly depending on both where you are from and where you are going. We've been using a website called insuremytrip.com to look at different types of policies with different levels of coverage from a variety of companies and have usually been able to find a cheap policy that meets our modest needs. At a minimum these types of websites will help you sort out what types of coverage are out there and what you can expect to pay.

So, the cheapest would definitely be to manage the risk with prudent behavior and hope the less-than-cautious acts of others or nature won't upset your plans. If you do decide to buy a policy, you can keep costs down with a medical-style policy that skips the expensive coverage of a package plan (that you don't need and likely won't collect anyway) for coverage that protects you if you get really sick or injured. If you don't already have health insurance back home, these medical plans are an even better idea. Hope that helps. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,840

Posted by busylizzy on 13/2/2011 at 03:58

Excellent responses from both Somsai and exacto, although my insurance approach in line with exacto's view, whilst taking Somsai's approach in my day-to-day life on the road.

As exact points out, no matter how much care you take, there are things out of your control. Ferries sink, busses crash, dengue fever, malaria and food poisoning are common, and many of us try to learn to ride motorbikes in countries who have road rules very different to us. And if the worst case occurs, I don't want undue long-term hardship for myself or my family back home just to get me the medical care / evacuation that I need.

Three cases where insurance was/could have been beneficial:
1) My sister hired a motorbike in Bali with her partner. (She was semi-experienced but on quieter roads). They canned off, she got severe burns on her leg, and couldn't bend her leg. After initial treatment she flew home. Her insurance covered her business class upgrade which she needed just to be able to keep her leg straight. Imagine trying to cope on a 8-10 hour flight in cattle-class!

2) Just in the last week, 3 young girls from NZ travelled to Thailand. All 3 came down with severe food poisoning in Chiang Mai after eating in a popular night market. One died within a day as it somehow got to her heart. The other has undergone some form of heart surgery. The third one is also in hospital. The parents of all 3 girls have flown to Thailand, and one is bringing their daughter home in a casket. I have no idea what insurance they had, but imagine what that would be like to deal with/pay for WITHOUT insurance. And all from a bad curry (supposedly - haven't heard the full story yet).

3) A young girl from South Africa arrived in NZ a year ago without insurance and within a month ended up in hospital. Can't remember the details but she had contracted some deadly thing. But meanwhile, she incurred a massive hospital bill (in 100's of thousands). From her hospital bed she was effectively campaigning through NZ media to raise money to help cover her hospital expenses so that her family in SA didn't have to pay for it by mortgaging their family home, etc. All this just to save a few hundred dollars on a policy. in spite of spending 1000's on travel. She eventually died.

In these last two cases, insurance wouldn't have saved their lives, but it sure as hell would have made it easier on the families left to deal with things.

Don't worry about covering your expensive gadgets if you are trying to save money - they are replaceable. But do make sure that you get insuranace to cover your medical AND evacuations needs.

#4 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by busylizzy on 13/2/2011 at 04:07

Oh dear... I just re-read your original question, and realised that I pretty much joined on the bandwagon of stating why you should have insurance rather than give you practical advice on which one to buy! My post probably won't help you but maybe it will helps others trying to decide whether or not to buy any.

I guess to suggest which policy to buy depends on what country you live in. There is no point in me suggesting NZ-based policies if you live in the US. World Nomads are probably the common, 'universal' one although many who have looked into them think that they are expensive.

If I were you, I would do a google-search in your own country for 'travel insurance' and start comparing some of your local companies. In NZ, the company that I use (Southern Cross) offer discounts because I already have medical insurance with them, and offer a further 20% discount for buying it online rather than over the phone. They only offer a per person rate, rather than a discounted couple rate.

#5 busylizzy has been a member since 31/12/2007. Location: New Zealand. Posts: 2,152

Posted by somsai on 13/2/2011 at 07:09

World Nomads is affiliated with this web site somehow, and has a long time good reputation. I'd think if you mention this site you get some sort of discount.


Note all 3 of Lizzy's examples are of what not to do and where prudence would have been a better policy. Don't ride a motorcycle if you can't handle the conditions, eat where locals eat, the third I don't even want to speculate on. Please send money???

Also insurance will not protect you from harm, it only mitigates any financial costs arising from the harm. Don't get hurt is my number one mantra. I see people doing lots of dumb things in South East Asia, usually involving drinking and often motorcycles. It really doesn't matter one bit what is done with your body after you are dead. Usually locals have a low cost way of dealing with it.

Lastly be honest, don't scam the insurance company.

#6 somsai has been a member since 1/3/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 566

Posted by Nokka on 14/2/2011 at 16:25

Cheapest will almost definitely not mean best. Cheapest will have lots of exclusions, which may even make the policy worthless. To ascertain which is the best travel policy is almost impossible - each will have its own little quirks within its policy wordings. Also, we don't know where you are in the world !

Personally, I wouldn't dream of travelling outside Europe without medical type insurance of some type. Within Europe I take the European Medical Card which gives reciprocal treatment with all the EU states. I don't bother insuring 'things' - and in any case that is often covered under home contents policies. Unfortunately I have known things go wrong for those abroad and the costs, without insurance, could wipe you out financially. Plus how stupid would you feel phoning home to family asking for help as you didn't bother spending those few extra quid on your expensive trip. Also, to be honest, if something goes wrong with my health whilst overseas I want as good quality care as I can get. If I am 'upcountry' somewhere in the region I want to know I can get to a decent private hospital, by airlift, if necessary. Why mess with these things ?

My big tip is to check policy wordings and ask questions. For example, what activities do you plan to do and are they covered. An example, my understanding is that if you hire a scooter and are injured while not wearing a helmet - you are automatically NOT covered.

#7 Nokka has been a member since 6/4/2009. Location: United Kingdom. Posts: 259

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