Why you need travel insurance

Why you need travel insurance

While it's true that basic healthcare can be cheap, the emphasis should be on the word basic—not cheap. Thailand, Singapore and to a lesser extent Malaysia have a higher standard of care, than say Cambodia or Burma, but this is often in private hospitals, not public. Anything more than a night or two in hospital gets expensive, fast, and the medical bills associated with longer stays can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars—and higher.

Planning categories

Picking the right insurance was complicated enough, and then Covid-19 came along to well and truly mix things up. After an initial period where insurers stop offering policies altogether, most have returned, albeit with more varied offerings. Restrictions and new rules remain commonplace and more than ever reading the small print matters.

Flight cancelled? Photo by: Sally Arnold.
Flight cancelled? Photo: Sally Arnold

Ever since Travelfish was established, we’ve recommended World Nomads. Over the years we’ve made a few claims, one of over A$20,000, and we’ve always found their assistance to be top-notch, and, best of all, they paid all our claims! That said, in recent times their prices have increased considerably, and are now close to double that of some other providers, including Insured Nomads and SafetyWing. World Nomads was also purchased by a gigantic insurance brand, which absolutely took some of the indy shine off the undertaking.

With this in mind, we’ve partnered with two additional firms, Insured Nomads and SafetyWing, both far newer firms and who while still offering a good product, are managing to do so for a considerably lower price. So, for the more price-conscious traveller these are well worth a closer look, but still, as always, read the small print.

So what is the difference between travel insurance providers?

The table below outlines the broad strokes differences between the three providers. I want to emphasise the following details should be taken as estimates only, as, while taken from the respective sites, the fine print is considerable. In the case of World Nomads in particular, there are different sets of small print for each country, so I’ve used the Australian policy as an example, because, well, I am Australian.

This doesn't feel like Garuda. Photo by: Samantha Brown.
This doesn't feel like Garuda. Photo: Samantha Brown

All have some degree of Covid-19 cover, but, at risk of repeating myself, please read the small print—particularly with regard to warnings from your home country which may negate that portion of your coverage. The following is also based on the cheapest version of their package—all three offer multiple plans, with a raft of add-ons for personal equipment and adventure sports like diving and caving. These added extras will increase the price of a policy. One more time for the dummies—read the small print.

Insured Nomads, SafetyWing and World Nomads compared

  World Nomads Logo
Provider Insured Nomads SafetyWing World Nomads
Age No limit Under 70 Under 70
Nationality Any Any No coverage for EEA residents
Ireland and UK excepted
Deductible US$500 US$250 A$100
Covid-19 coverage Yes Yes Perhaps
Overseas medical expenses US$250k US$250k A$5m
Emergency medical transport
and repatriation
US$250k US$100k A$500k
Emergency dental US$300 US$1k A$1k
Repatriation of remains US$100k US$20k A$25k
Cancellation costs No No A$5k
Trip interuption US$10k No A$2.5k
Trip resumption No No A$1.5k
Damage or theft of baggage
and personal items
US$500 USS$3k A$2k
Baggage delay No No A$300
Travel alerts
Resources FAQ Safety Hub
Guiding national advisory US State
US State
Policy details Terms Terms Terms
30-day Thailand trip aged 35 US$92.70 US$45 A$224.50
Find out more Insured
SafetyWing World

What does travel insurance cover?

Aside from medical care, travel insurance can protect you in the case of lost or stolen luggage and personal effects, trip cancellation, personal liability, funeral expenses (without wanting to sound morbid, dying overseas can be very, very expensive), emergency dental treatment and evacuation back to your country of residence.

All manner of add-ons will cover items like expensive cameras, laptops and iPads and more adventuresome pursuits, but for many travellers, a general travel insurance policy should provide a good starting point.

Things to watch out for

While you’re battling your way through the small print, keep in mind the following potential pitfalls.

Dangerous activities
Many insurers consider motorcycling, diving, parachuting, hot-air ballooning and many other largely safe activities as hugely dangerous pursuits. Falling off your motorbike, breaking your arm and spending a few days in hospital will only be more painful if your insurer tells you the bill is all yours.

Country exclusions
There’s no point in having travel insurance for your trip to Burma if it doesn’t cover Burma.

Working exclusions
Will you be working during your trip? If so, check that pouring those drinks in a bar on Ko Phi Phi won’t void your travel insurance.

Maximum amount per item
You don’t want your $1,500 camera stolen only to find out your insurer has a maximum payout per item of $250.

Excessive excess
The excess is the amount you have to pay to lodge a travel insurance claim. If the stolen goods part of your policy has an excess of $100 and you have a camera worth $120 stolen, you must pay the first $100. Some travel policies have excesses so high it is hardly ever worth claiming.

Got a ticket home?
Some travel insurers work on the assumption that you have a ticket home. If you don’t have one, be sure to read the small print carefully.


If you purchase a policy from Insured Nomads, SafetyWing or World Nomads through a link on Travelfish, we may be paid a commission on that sale.

Further reading

Planning well is an integral part of getting the most out of your trip. Be it picking the right backpack, the right vaccinations or the right country, the simple decisions are often the most important.

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