“Do I really need to buy a travel medical insurance?” Is possibly one of the most asked questions I’ve seen in the online travel community, and my answer is always YES, YES, and YES! Most of the time, we worry about travel plans getting disrupted or belongings getting lost in transit. Yet, we neglect the fact doesn’t matter where your destination is, physical accidents COULD happen, too. (That’s why it’s called accidents, right?) Of course, nobody wants to anticipate for an accident, but you just never know. You can be very careful and shit still happens.
an article on travel medical insurance buying tips and shared them a while back. Now, let me tell you why you need one. Here’s my real-life story:
In 2014, I had planned to travel through Europe for a month. I bought a travel medical insurance because it was mandatory for Taiwanese citizens who were travelling to EU. I bought the cheapest plan because I was just out of college and didn’t want to “waste” money on a travel medical insurance. After one month of travelling, I decided to extend my trip for another month. On the last day of my insurance coverage period, I accidentally fell down on my Couchsurfing host’s bathroom, hit my head, and had to call an ambulance to the hospital to get stitches.
I was in Paris. The cost of the ambulance and the medical expenses were around 500 euros.
I messaged my insurance handler immediately after I returned from the hospital. Luckily, the accident happened on the last day of my insurance coverage period, so I could file a claim. She helped me to extend my travel insurance to ensure the rest of my trip is covered.
After I returned to Taiwan, I reimbursed first with Taiwan’s national health care, then I claimed for the reimbursement with the insurance company. I got a full refund.
Ever since then, doesn’t matter where I travel, buying a travel medical insurance became a must-do.
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I know travel itself can be expensive already, but don’t save money on your personal safety. Below are the travel medical insurance platforms my friends and I have personally used. They are Zuihuibi (最惠比), Seven Corners, and True Travelers.
Each travel medical insurance platforms I mention below has its specialities. Read carefully and find the one that suits your needs!
- Good for: Chinese nationals and expats in China. (You need to live in China for more than half of a year.)
- The catch: You need to purchase at least the day before your departure. (Ex: If you are travelling on a Sunday, you need to make your payment no later than 23.00 the day before.)
- Earn money when you share: Their Wechat account has a referral program. You earn a little cash when people purchase insurance through your link.
If you live in China, Zuihuibi (最惠比) should be your go-to site. I used their service for my trip around Asia this summer (2018). Zuihuibi compares plans from different insurance companies in China and offers competitive prices for plans with different levels of coverage. They are a partner with several major Chinese insurance companies such as Ping An (平安保險), as well as international companies including Allianz, AIG, and Liberty.
Zuihuibi has a Wechat public account where you can purchase and pay with your Wechat wallet directly. You only need to enter your travel dates, destination, the app will give you a quote. Then, you choose your desired plan and continue to fill out basic information like birthdate, gender, and passport number. After you complete the payment, the system will send you a copy of your insurance policy directly to your inbox. It’s super simple and hassle-free. If anything, you can also reach their customer service easily by Wechat.
Currently, there’s only a Chinese version on their website and Wechat interface, but they are building an English version. Hopefully, it will be available soon.
- Good for: Everyone.
- The Catch: You need to purchase the day before your departure.
This is one of the global travel insurance companies I’ve previously used. The company is based in the USA, but you don’t need to be a US resident to use the insurance. Their site has a lot of details to a point that was a bit complicated for me to read, but it might just be me.
Aside from the regular travel medical insurance, they also specialize in immigrant & visitor insurances for the USA; student travel insurance that’s designed for students, faculty and scholar travelling abroad. Their plans can cover up to 90 days. They also claim to offer 24/7 online travel assistance although I don’t know how good is it since I never used it. (I know they respond quite quick when you ask them something on Twitter though!)
- Good for: the UK and EU residents only.
- Perks: You can buy the insurance even when you’re already on the road. Also, True Traveller offers coverage period for up to 18 months, which covers the longest period among all of the above.
True Traveller is based in London, and they’re a partner of Allianz Global Assistance. The company is set up in 2010 by 3 travellers, and they offer insurance arrangement for 92 adventurous activities such as winter sports and scuba diving. This site is perfect for those who have no previous experience with buying travel medical insurance as their site has a very clear layout. Jim bought his insurance with them when we were in transit from Shanghai to Singapore.
They offer different packages: The Traveller Pack, Adventure Pack, Extreme Pack, and Ultimate Pack. The Traveller Pack is probably already enough for most of the travellers as it already covers activities such as surfing, swimming with sharks, zip lining, windsurfing, scuba diving, and white water rafting. Honestly, I think True Traveller basically covers all kind of activities that have potential physical risks. It’s a pity that it’s only available for residents in the EU and UK.
- They provide a specialized travel insurance package for International Experience Canada visa (IEC).
- They got 24/7 medical assistance service with a UK number and a US/Canada toll-free number.
- The site has a very detailed page to show you how to make different types of claims including medical, baggage, money, cancellation, curtailment, travel delay, missed departure, personal liability and legal assistance, collision damage waiver excess, and financial failure protection.
If you find this post helpful, please leave a reply to let me know!
If you’ve previously bought travel medical insurance, Can you also tell us about your experience?
This post is partially sponsored by Zuihuibi 最惠比
Also published on Medium.