Regular Travelfish readers will be aware that we've been long time fans of World Nomads. We use them every single time we travel away from home and while they're not the cheapest, having met the people behind the company, we've been of the firm opinion they're the best.
In all these years though, we've never had to make a claim -- until this week that is. Verdict? We were right -- they're excellent.
On a recent trip to Thailand and Burma, I woke in my Bangkok guesthouse to find that through the night I had scratched and ruptured a sty in my left eye. While still asleep, the eye became pus-filled, swelled up and sealed. This meant that when I woke up, not only did I look like I'd been hit with a cricket bat, I couldn't open my eye.
My super sexy 5am look.
Given I was supposed to be flying to Burma in a few days, I was less than enthused with the situation and so, at around 5am stumbled out onto the street and got a taxi to Bangkok's Samitivej hospital. Samitivej is a large private hospital and isn't cheap, but I've used them before and had no qualms about heading there.
I eventually saw an eye specialist, who cleaned up my eye and gave me a bag of blues and reds to combat the infection and the swelling and asked me to return in a few days to see how it was going.
I spent the next couple of days stumbling around in Bangkok, walking into poles on more than one occasion (yes two eyes are better than one) and when I returned to the hospital the doctor decided to operate on my eye to remove the sty. It was a thoroughly unpleasant undertaking, but only lasted about 15 minutes and my eye was patched up and she said I was good to go.
Two days later I was in Burma.
The total cost of the two treatments was 5,461 baht
Once back in Bali I decided to file a claim with World Nomads.
The process was very simple. On June 20 I logged into my account on World Nomads and filled out a few forms online where I explained what had happened and then I had to itemise each of the receipts (all of which I had kept).
The form noted I'd have to send originals of all the paperwork to the insurer's office in Switzerland which was a bit of a drag, and what I think was an automated response supported this. But after another eight hours I received a message back that included an email address I could email the docs to, so I immediately photographed the paperwork and emailed them all along with a couple of mugshots showing me with a bad case of cricket-bat-to-the-head-itis two hours after receiving this email.
Five days later I received a message from the insurer advising that my claim had been approved and that the payment (minus a US$100 excess as spelled out in the policy) would be paid into my bank within two weeks.
Yes the amounts concerned were small, but I found the claims system easy to use and the responses from the insurer prompt and helpful.
Given that a friend is currently in a far more serious situation and at the point of threatening legal action to get their travel insurance provider (not World Nomads) to fulfil their side of the bargain, my experience has only strengthened my resolve that World Nomads is a solid travel insurance company.
Some advice should you have a medical situation arise:
*) Keep all paperwork -- invoices, receipts for payment, credit card slips, appointment forms and so on;
*) If possible, take photos illustrating the problem (unless it is dysentery!);
*) File your claim as soon as possible so that all the details are fresh in your mind;
*) Have electronic copies of supporting documents like your air ticket in case you're asked for them.
You can read more about World Nomads on Travelfish here or visit their website direct to find out more.
Even if you decide World Nomads is not a good fit for you, make sure you are adequately insured before you travel - and read the fine print!
Please note if you purchase travel insurance with World Nomads via a link on Travelfish.org a commission may be payable to us.
I'm not happy with them at all. OK so my claim wasn't approved (they're all about the small print these insurances- I actually saved them money by opting to stay at a hotel next to the hospital, instead of at the hospital, for a 3 day recovery from typhoid fever, but of course only a hospital stay would have been reimbursed). What really puts me off them is that, if you terminate the insurance for any reason at all, (say you decide to return home early), they will not repay a cent of what you paid them! Other insurances, like STATravel, will pay back unused months- minus a 10 Euro fee. Also, having a question answered takes several emails to several people, or queries aren't answered at all- because of "holiday absence".... I find their style of communication sort of dehumanized too. Wish I'd chosen another insurance.
#2 arcu has been a member since 11/1/2013. Posts: 5
Indeed it does. It'd be great to hear from others who've filed claims with WN and other insurance companies. I've used both STA and WN at different times but have fortunately never had to claim with either (knock on wood).
I should have added a disclaimer! I'm not affiliated with them, and I just signed up with them, so I don't know if I'll have a better experience with STA (would prefer not to have an experience at all!) Wanted to ditch World Nomads after my first claim, because of, to put it mildly, unsatisfactory communication, but then realized I would not be reimbursed for the remaining months of my one year policy.
#5 arcu has been a member since 11/1/2013. Posts: 5
5461 baht comes out to 170 USD giving you a savings of $70. I should think it hardly worth it, given the relatively minor condition you suffered compared to the premiums you have paid over the long haul- it's Nomad that's still the big winner in your case. Sounds like you're either giving a little spin for Nomad (which I've heard nothing but awful things about) or you haven't really though it through.
I am very frustrated with travel insurance policies. Reliable ones are prohibitive while reasonably priced ones are unreliable. I'm also very concerned about theft. I'm livid that the banks have decided to do away with the de facto insured traveller's cheque. What do they want me to do, open a bank account in every country I travel? Stay in one domicile like a good little citizen? Uggh.
#6 LaoDing has been a member since 1/9/2014. Posts: 2
I'm not sure I'm following you. How is me using World Nomads in the past and not needing to make a claim in anyway related to the "worth" of them paying out a claim when I did make one? How much should the claim have been before it was worth it?! I had an accident, needed to go to hospital, made a claim and World Nomads paid. I thought that was the whole concept of travel insurance?
Any kind of insurance is a complete waste of money - until you need to make a claim that is. With any luck, you'll never need it and will hopefully continue to waste money with each and every travel insurance policy you buy. But as with car insurance or home insurance, you are a fool not to have some type of coverage to protect yourself against catastrophic loss.
Many banks did away with traveler's checks due to rampant fraud. ATMs are an easy to use and readily available substitute. They let you keep your cash in an account back home so you can take it out as you need it. Regards.
@somtam Just a perspective. From where I sit, it sounds like the paperwork alone was worth $70 of your time. In any case, I would hope that the company would cover you for something more serious and costly.
@exacto And credit cards are not subject to fraud? You're mistaken- they've done away with TQ's to keep all the money tied to a bank and to squeeze transients like me. Now we're forced to carry cash. What is fraud but theft? If someone steals your cash, you lose. If someone gets away with cashing your TQ's (which I doubt happened much), the bank loses. CC's are a mixed bag. You like many others apologize for banks (maybe you don't realize it). Banks are NOT your friend.
I have a debit card in the States. It's harder than hades to get money into the account, and the bank cancels the card at a whim (twice in five years), leaving me cashless until my poor 75 year old mother sends me a new one via FedEx. Worthless.
I don't have a 'back home.' I wander the globe on contractual employment and I'm poor according to all the indexes. Guess what? Over 80% of the world is and they want us to stay in our place. I'm crushed by banks and there is no way they'll ever give me a credit card. As a US citizen, it's hard enough as it is to open a foreign bank account period (residency restrictions, pressure to report funds to the US govt., etc). So I have to carry cash- at my own risk. I don't like it a bit and I don't like it a bit that there are no reasonable insurance companies out there to guarantee against theft.
We live in different worlds my friend exacto.
#9 LaoDing has been a member since 1/9/2014. Posts: 2
I was looking at World Nomands, but the cost floored me - about $150., if I remember correctly. I can get Travel Guard when I purchase my ticket for about $50. I'm sure World Nomands is superior, but I'm also a very healthy person who never has had to change my plans significantly.
#10 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,112
I started to use world nomads insurance because travelfish suggests it. Some days ago I had a small medical problem that costed me around 90 euros. When I was making the claim to get the money back, I discovered that every claim costs me 70 euros (or 100$ for us citizens, as you say in your post). So I'll get just 20 euros.
The answer was fast and clear, but the "detail" about the 70 euros was not clear at all, especially during the police subscription.
And after all, an insurance company that you gives you back 70$ when you paid 170$, is it really good?
#11 giuseppee has been a member since 4/4/2016. Posts: 1
"after all, an insurance company that you gives you back 70$ when you paid 170$, is it really good?"
Probably. Yes. You are talking about a deductible, which is a standard part of most insurance policies to help keep costs down. For example, on my car policy, with a $500 deductible, the cost of the insurance is about half of what it would be with a $100 deductible or no deductible. It is the same with travel insurance.
With insurance, the coverage is typically designed to prevent a catastrophic financial loss due to a significant event, like a major accident or illness, or, heaven forbid, repatriation of remains. If you only had a small claim and didn't really the catastrophic coverage, then be glad. But I've seen too many people have significant, very expensive incidents while travelling, and I agree with somtam that travelling without insurance is a bad idea. Cheers.
I do mention the excess in the story up top, and, as exacto points out, it is pretty standard across the board with insurance.
I love Travelfish and so have a lot of confidence in your recommendations. However, in a competitive marketplace it is difficult to trust companies that recommend a single insurance provider - i.e. World Nomads is the only company recommended by both Lonely Planet and Travelfish.
I have just thought about buying this insurance despite its much higher premiums. And then I read user reviews, which suggest a dismal service:
People report no coverage for trip cancellation, difficulties in case of death of a family member, no coverage for theft that was not 'observed', poor communication and high excess.
I also don't see this particular review of the insurance (by someone working for Travelfish, which has disclosed knowing the people running World Nomads) as representative. Any travel insurance would go out of its way to give exemplary service to an affiliate who recommends them and posts blogs about it on their site - the bad publicity fallout would otherwise be just too much. And it's a tiny claim.
So, in short, I still love Travelfish but I think you owe it to your users to present objective information in areas such as insurance.
#14 onewoman has been a member since 9/7/2016. Posts: 1
I'll answer this here rather than your email
Yes, the above case was a small claim -- we had a far larger one in January this year where our travel insurance cover saved us north of A$20,000 after I was hospitalised in Sydney after a suspected heart attack. I've been meaning to update the page with the newer claim, just have not got around to it yet.
World Nomads paid out everything -- all the medical fees, all the transport re arrangements (the "event" was the morning of our flights home, so we all missed the flights etc) -- the service was, really, flawless.
Exactly when I needed travel insurance, it was there.
I get that every claim is different and not all claims are paid out. In fact there was one on Travelfish just a couple of weeks ago regarding another Travelfish regular, who had a very bad accident, and her travel insurer let her down -- luckily she had other travel insurance that stepped in to save the day.
We have worked with (and used) World Nomads for years and the number of cases I've heard, from people I know, where they felt let down by WN are minimal -- there is only one I can think off the top of my head, and even in that case I felt the friend was being unreasonable in what they were expecting WN to do and pay for.
Buying travel insurance is a personal decision -- do the research, read the small print, understand what is and isn't covered -- obviously it isn't for everyone -- and buy the policy that fits with your needs, budget and so on. Some will feel the policy cost is too high, or they are too old to buy a policy, or require some form of coverage that isn't available through them etc -- so there are plenty of other options available.
But the travel insurance provider we recommend is World Nomads. They're the company we use whenever my family or I travel overseas and, we've found them to be a very good fit.
Hope that helps clarify our position.
One thing to keep in mind is that World Nomads is not actually an insurer, but rather an insurance broker -- at least that's how I understand it. So it serves as a "middleman" connecting travelers up to policies that are underwritten by AIG or some other big insurance company.
As with any broker, World Nomads can help to negotiate claims with the underwriter on behalf of customers. When I made a claim a couple of years ago, the customer reps at World Nomads did a fine job of sorting out the claim on my behalf. But ultimately it's up to the underwriting company to decide which claims get paid out. I had no problems with World Nomads' customer service in terms of communication.
I'm no insurance expert, but the issues mentioned in onewoman's post seem more like issues that people tend to have with big insurance companies in general. I'd be interested to know if onewoman has found a better alternative while doing her research (though I suppose one can only comment on insurance quality after one has actually had to make a claim).
Just jumping in here (as I'm the TF regular Somtam mentioned above). All travel insurance can seem like a waste of money (can be expensive, high deductibles, unlikely to ever need it) - until the unfortunate day when you need it REALLY badly.
What you're buying isn't actually about paying the minor, $150 dollar medical expenses. It's about paying the $10,000+ expenses that probably aren't going to happen to you... but you'd struggle to pay if they did. And you're also paying for the staff who organise and sort out everything for you, when you're in a position where you can't (or would struggle to) sort it out yourself.
For example, my hospitalisation and surgery cost over $12,000, plus whatever my repatriation flight and transport to the airport cost (I never saw any bills for these, as the insurance company organised them for me). My insurer wasn't World Nomads - you can check the link Somtam included above to see who my insurer was, as I name-checked them in my original posting about the incident (and I'm very happy with the service I received from them).
Yes, its unlikely to happen to you. But I never thought it would happen to me, either. I'm sure Somtam never thought he'd need hospitalisation from a suspected heart attack either. It can happen to anyone - so good insurance is really rather important IMO, regardless of which company you get it from.
Somtam has had good experiences with World Nomads so he understandably recommends them, I had a good experience with my insurer, so I'll recommend them as well. There are probably quite a few good companies out there, so, as Somtam says, do your research and find the policy that suits you (but I really recommend ensuring it's one that pays out in front, rather than reimburses you later - yes it's more expensive, but if something terrible happens, you'll be glad of it).
Safe travels and be well.