Once you have made the big decision to take a travel career break and your plans are in motion, it’s important to consider getting career break travel insurance. Here we explain why it’s always best to get yourself covered, why we recommend World Nomads for insuring long-term trips, and how you can get started.
This article contains links to travel insurance services we recommend, from which we may make commission at no extra cost to you.
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Why get career break travel insurance?
First things first: we don’t want to scare you away from taking a travel career break. As long as you are sensible and take basic precautions, you are very unlikely to get injured, fall ill or lose your valuables through crime or accident.
Of course there are some risks involved. But life isn’t fun unless you take a few risks, right? You probably wouldn’t have reached this point if you think otherwise.
Taking a risk doesn’t mean being reckless. The important thing is to mitigate the risks so that if you do happen to get unlucky, your back is covered. This means getting travel insurance. And here’s why.
Can you afford not to?
It’s tempting to think about travel insurance in terms of whether or not you can afford to get it. You’ve worked hard to save all that money, and you’d much rather spend it all on fun activities… that’s understandable.
However. Before you go full steam ahead, try thinking about it the other way round. If something were to happen that caused major disruption to your travel career break, would you be able to afford to deal with the consequences?
If you travel uninsured and fall victim to an accident or illness, it will be your own responsibility to cover the costs. When it comes to medical bills, in particular, the impact of this can be devastating.
Imagine that you have a serious accident while trekking in the wilderness. You need to be airlifted to safety in order to be treated, and maybe even repatriated home. The cost of this can run easily into tens of thousands of dollars, and potentially more. Would you be able to withstand such a financial hit? The chances are that it could not only ruin your adventure of a lifetime, but also have a crippling effect for years to come.
If this scenario sounds extreme – and yes, it’s a very unlikely circumstance – consider how other disruptions may affect you as well.
For example, let’s say you and your partner have already paid $3,000 each for your round-the-world flight tickets. A few days before you are due to leave, you discover that a close family member is seriously ill and so you need to stay at home to care for them. But the Ts and Cs with your travel agency are clear – there can be no refunds at this stage. Can you really afford to lose that much money?
Alternatively, let’s take another scenario. You’ve just arrived in a big and hectic city when disaster strikes: your bags are stolen, containing all of your valuables and your passports. Can you afford to replace that expensive camera and laptop? What about the flight that you’re going to miss while you wait for your passport situation to be sorted?
Peace of mind
The situations described above are just some of the predicaments that could occur if you travel uninsured. Yes, they are unlikely – but wouldn’t you rather travel in the knowledge that you will be covered if anything does go wrong?
Having that peace of mind allows you to get on with enjoying your trip of a lifetime without any niggling worries about what you would do in unexpected circumstances.
Bad luck happens to the best of us
Travel horror stories are often sensationalised, and you’d be forgiven for thinking “that’s never going to happen to me”. But even the most sensible and careful travellers can get caught in a moment of bad luck.
It can take just one slip of attention for your world to be turned upside down. We know that only too well. Shortly after arriving in Buenos Aires on our travel career break, we were victims of a distraction theft. In a single instant, with our guard down, all of our valuables were gone.
Until that point we’d tried our best to be vigilant and kept ourselves informed about common scams. Even so, it only took one vulnerable moment and our journey was collapsing down around us.
You will probably meet people on your own travels who have met unfortunate incidents. When you do, it’s likely you’ll hear one of these two sentences; I’m glad I had travel insurance or I wish I had travel insurance. Don’t be the latter.
Putting the cost into perspective
Travel insurance can appear to be a large and inconvenient cost when viewed as a singular. Instead, consider the cost in the broader context of your whole trip.
Once you’ve got an insurance quote, consider the amount as a percentage of your overall trip. If you’re spending $15,000 on a round-the-world adventure, what’s a few hundred dollars of that, or 4–5%, to make sure you’re covered?
You can also break the cost down into a daily figure. Will you really miss a dollar or two each day? As soon as you look at this bigger picture, it’s much easier to justify the cost of career break travel insurance.
Taking a career break can be a transformational experience that inspires you to take a new and exciting path in life, or helps you to make major lifestyle improvements. The small risks involved are infinitely worth it, and investing in travel insurance provides you with that extra safety net.
5 things to consider when looking for career break travel insurance
So, you’ve decided you want to invest in travel insurance. What next? Before you get started looking for a policy, here are a few things to consider.
1. Don’t just go for the cheapest option
You may be tempted to default to using comparison sites and plump for the cheapest option available for career break travel insurance. Be careful.
If a policy is cheap, it’s cheap for a reason. Make sure you read the small print and pay attention to the details. The cheapest policies tend to carry much higher excess, give lower payouts and cut corners in ways that could leave you inadequately covered.
Will you be covered for lost luggage or missed flight connections? How much are you covered for if you need to cancel or curtail your trip? Are expensive valuables covered? Car rentals? Passports? These are all important questions to ask. Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you go through the details with a fine-tooth comb and that you’re satisfied with the level of cover.
We made the mistake of not doing this ourselves, and learned the hard way. We chose a cheap insurer for a one-year travel career break. This resulted in all manner of difficulties when we were robbed in Buenos Aires. The customer service was terrible, we had to go through a time-consuming and arduous process to make a claim, and we ended up paying a large amount of excess that ate into our reimbursement significantly.
We’ve learned our lesson: we don’t just book the cheapest any more. World Nomads is now our go-to insurer for long trips, and I explain why below.
2. Duration and destinations
When entering the parameters of your trip to get a travel insurance quote, it is vital that you are accurate with the details.
Some insurers offer ‘annual multi-trip’ insurance, which covers all of your trips within a year. Sounds great, but it doesn’t work for long-term, career break travel. Annual multi-trip cover usually only covers single trips up to a maximum of 31 days. For anything longer, you need to look at specialist or backpacker insurance.
Similarly, it’s also important to be precise with the countries you plan to visit on your trip. Check for details on the policy for any countries that might not be included too. For example, countries in conflict zones may be restricted. Also, worldwide cover sometimes excludes the USA, Canada and the Caribbean.
Once again, it’s a matter of checking the small print. You don’t want to find later on that your insurance is invalidated because you didn’t get these details right.
3. Adventure activities
Are you planning to undertake any potentially hazardous activities on your travel career break? Activities such as skiing, high-altitude trekking, scuba diving, sky diving and horse riding can add a premium to your travel insurance policy.
Not all policies are the same when it comes to adventure activities; check the details to make sure you will be covered. For example, many policies do not automatically cover hiking over 3,000 metres altitude.
4. Limits and excess
One of the most important details to check is the payout limits and excess required for certain items.
For a travel career break, pay close attention to the payout limit for baggage that is lost, stolen, damaged or destroyed. Is the limit on the policy enough to cover what you might lose, or at least to mitigate it sufficiently? If not, you could consider taking out specialist gadget insurance for individual items. For example, we have separate worldwide cover for our DLSR camera, which means it doesn’t need to be covered when we take out travel insurance. Alternatively, a flexible insurer may allow you to pay a little extra to increase the limits.
The ‘excess’ refers to the amount you will have to pay towards a claim. For example, it’s common for excess to be applied to aspects of the policy such as cancellation or lost items. If the excess on cancellation is $100 and the total payout $3,000, you would receive $2,900 if claiming the full amount.
It’s important to have a clear view of limits and excess so that you know what to expect when it comes to making claims, and whether it will meet your needs.
5. Book early to cover cancellation
When it comes to a long-term trip, life events out of your control can get in the way. What if you find out that a loved one at home has been diagnosed with a serious illness, for example? Or if you sustain an injury before the trip that makes it impossible to go ahead?
If you know you’re going to get travel insurance, don’t put it off. If something like this were to happen before you’ve bought a policy, you won’t be covered for cancellation, and that means losing out on a potentially big payout.
Again, it’s about peace of mind. Booking insurance is something many people procrastinate over, but every day you don’t have it is a risk. Once it’a done, you don’t need to worry.
Our recommended insurer: World Nomads
World Nomads specialises in insurance for long-term, worldwide travel. This makes it a perfect option for anybody taking a travel career break.
You can get started using this quote tool, or read on below for more about World Nomads and why we recommend them.
5 reasons to choose World Nomads travel insurance
These are the reasons we recommend World Nomads as the best option for career break travel insurance:
It’s vital to have trust when it comes to choosing travel insurance. World Nomads is backed by strong, secure, specialist travel insurers. This provides you with reliable cover, 24-hour emergency assistance and outstanding support and claims management in your hour of need.
You can buy and claim online at any time before your journey or while you are travelling.
World Nomads insurance is geared towards adventurous travellers and provides cover for medical care, baggage and valuables, a range of adventure activities and much more.
If you have a change of plans, you can make updates to your policy while you are still travelling.
3. Great customer service
We’ve had a great experience dealing with the team at World Nomads. The staff are friendly, helpful and quick to respond. If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation where you need to claim or make emergency arrangements, this high level of customer service is invaluable.
If you want to know more about World Nomads’ insurance packages or travel safety in general, you can contact their team directly.
Once you sign up as a member of World Nomads you immediately have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts. You can also find comprehensive travel safety advice and tips from experts on the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
5. Value for money
While it’s possible to find cheaper policies than World Nomads, we don’t think they can be beaten on value for money for insuring a travel career break. The combination of reliability, flexibility and great customer service make it well worth investing a little extra to know that you are well covered.
As a member of World Nomads, you aren’t just investing in excellent travel insurance, you are also becoming part of a worldwide community. You can benefit from a series of iPod and iPhone language guides as well as keeping in touch with your loved ones back home through an online travel journal.
World Nomads travel insurance is available to travellers from 140 countries around the world. To find out more about career break travel insurance and why it’s worth it, check out this article by World Nomads.
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