Traveling is an incredibly rewarding experience that changes your perspective on the world, on life, and on yourself.
It's exciting and, once you've booked, all that's on your mind is taking off starting your adventure.
But while traveling is a largely positive experience, things can go wrong.
You're stepping into the world of the unknown, and with that comes an element of danger.
Whether you break your arm trekking, or have your camera stolen while enjoying a drink with friends in a bar, you need to protect yourself with reliable travel insurance.
I've travelled for over 14 years now, throughout SE Asia and all over Thailand.
I've seen everything from motorbike accidents in Chiang Mai to baggage lost in Luang Prabang and travelers cheques stolen in Vietnam.
Along the way I've met numerous travelers whose plans were ruined because they didn't have adequate insurance, and I don't want that to be you.
To help protect your travel plans, I'm going to tell you what you need to look for in a travel insurance plan, including some little-known information that could invalidate your policy.
I'll walk you through genuine policy quotes from my recommended companies, and provide options for cover for over 70s, too.
Travel Insurance: Key Policy Considerations
The temptation is to just go with the cheapest quote and think, “That'll do”!
After all, the odds of something bad happening are pretty slim. But why risk your health and belongings during the trip of a lifetime?
Peace of mind is everything when it comes to travel. These moments will be moments to remember, for the rest of your life.
I'll cover these policy points below as part of a review of each company, but as a quick top-level overview, consider the following:
- Personal Accident Cover: Sufficient medical cover is of course necessary, but also consider personal accident cover. This will compensate you if you're temporarily or permanently disabled, and on some policies will cover loss of income.
- Expensive Items Cover: I always travel with an expensive MacBook. You, on the other hand, might have an expensive camera to document your travels. Make sure these items are covered under the policy, as some cover has a ceiling for expensive belongings.
- Adventure Sports: Will you be partaking in any risky sporting activities like mountain climbing or deep sea diving? You might need extra cover for these activities as they fall outside of the category of general activities.
- Return Date: Another key policy point to look out for is whether or not the insurance company requires a return date when taking out the policy.
The Return Flight Date Rule
Not having a return flight date invalidates most policies and is something commonly overlooked.
This is because the majority of insurance companies create policies aimed at short-term holiday-makers with a set return date. Moreover, those entering Thailand without a visa (on a 30-day exemption stamp) require a return flight date, anyway.
The thing is, you might not want to book a return date, as most travelers to South East Asia and beyond are adventurers looking for more than two weeks on one beach.
In addition, perhaps you have a return date in mind but might want to extend your trip and take out another policy while traveling.
Again, the problem is that the majority of companies do not insure people who are already traveling.
So with all this in mind, you need a travel insurance company that understands the flexible needs of backpackers and long-stay travelers.
And having been there, done it and bought the t-shirt, so to speak, I know the two best companies to use to ensure you are covered, even without a return flight date.
My Thailand Travel Insurance Recommendations
I’m going to walk you through my two top recommendations, both of which cater for backpackers, long-stay and standard holiday travel, and both of which I have personally used over the years.
Note that the quotes below are in British Pounds (GBP) because that's my home country. To get a quote in your home country's currency, click through to the website (links are below).
Both example quotes are based on the following criteria:
- Home country: UK
- Travel duration: 3 months
- Cover: Worldwide (excl. US & Canada)
- Age: 40
Obviously your criteria will be different, but this will give you a good idea of the type of quote and level of cover to expect.
Option 1: World Nomads
My first recommendation is World Nomads.
World Nomads provide cover for everything from a basic trip to an adventure holiday and travel that has specific requirements.
World Nomads serves the UK, Europe, US, Canada, Australia and pretty much every other country.
Note that generally, the older you get the more expensive travel insurance becomes. But to be fair, in 11 years it's only gone up around £10 for me.
The quote in the above example is with £75 ($99) excess. You want to get your excess as low as you can, but going for zero will obviously hike up the policy price.
If you're wondering what those quotes are in $USD: Standard Plan is $172, and Explorer Plan is $215.
Once you have made a choice between ‘Standard' and ‘Explorer', you will be taken to a page where you can select what activities you expect to do, and the electronic items you are taking on your trip.
The search engine will tell you whether these things are covered in the policy, or whether you will have to pay extra.
In the example below, I added my MacBook Pro at the maximum value of £750 ($989).
This put the policy up by £45 ($59). But the good news is that World Nomads guarantees that price (if I lose my Mac) with no depreciation. I'll take that.
I do like a kick about with a football, and in the past I have done white water rafting and high altitude trekking.
So I always need to make sure I'm covered if I pull one too many silky skills showing the locals how to play ball, or if I fall and sprain my knee somewhere along the foothills of the Himalayas.
As you can see, bungee jumping is covered but unaccompanied diving isn't, nor is hiking 4,500 meters up a mountain.
I should also note that included in every WN policy is a small donation to a local charitable that seeks to change the lives of the disadvantaged.
We all love traveling to exotic places, and to be able to so easily give something back to the communities we visit is a really cool and necessary thing.
Making a Claim with World Nomads
So you had a fall and sprained your wrist. Luckily, you will be insured. But will the company pay out?
It's all well and good a policy being competitively priced, but what you really want to know is whether the company will cover you in the event of a claim.
Like True Traveller, WN has a very good reputation when it comes to claims.
Here's what a World Nomads customer had to say after making a claim after a bad fall:
I fell off a roof in Argentina and shattered my arm. Waking up in a local hospital after an operation was terrifying and World Nomads immediate help saved my arm, perhaps my life and got me home. I can’t imagine navigating that experience without World Nomads.
Both recommendations have a 24-hour emergency service number on the policy document, which you should ring as soon as possible if admitted to hospital. If you're unlucky enough not to be able to call yourself, the hospital can do this for you, or a friend.
Important note: You don't pay the hospital directly for a major incident like this. You will be liable for the excess stated on your insurance policy, but the hospital is dealt with and paid by the company, not you.
For more ordinary cases – think a bout of flu or food poisoning, or material stuff like repairs to your camera or adventure gear – report the issue to the insurance company as quickly as possible.
You will then pay upfront and keep hold of your receipts. You will then submit your claim and send off the receipts (usually when home) and they will reimburse you.
Recommendation 2: True Traveller
Next up is True Traveller.
True Traveller covers every country in Europe. If you are from the US, Canada, Australia or other, use World Nomads.
TT has streamlined its process over the years and keeps things really transparent and simple to understand.
True Traveller offers three policy types, with the ‘Traveller' option the most popular.
The excess for each policy is 125, 75, 35, respectively.
There's a handy feature that simply allows you to turn the excess down to zero and compare the two prices.
Let's start with the excess on:
Now, here's what the prices look like with the excess at zero.
Medical cover on the ‘Traveller' and ‘Plus' packages is more than adequate, as is personal liability.
You can exclude the baggage cover to make the quote even cheaper. I always keep that in as I think it's an important inclusion for any trip.
There is an additional option for trip delay coverage.
You also have a choice of 3 activity packs to include in your policy.
The ‘Traveller Pack', which covers 91 activities, is included as standard, but if you're doing outdoor pursuit courses you might need the ‘Adventure Pack'. Or if you're flying an airplane, you'll need the ‘Extreme Pack'!
Winter sports is an optional extra too.
Website tip: Hover over the ? sign to see all included activities in a given package.
I'm sure you'll agree that this is great value. £137.57 ($181) on the ‘Traveller Plan'.
That works out at £1.52 ($2.00) a day!
Even with the ‘Extreme Pack' included, which most people won't need, the ‘Traveller Plan' comes in under £168 ($221).
Making a Claim with True Traveller
They pay out. Period. Have a look at this testimonial sent to me by a TheThailandLife.com reader (cheers Achim).
To prove this isn't a one-off, I browsed their Trustpilot reviews and found so many other positive stories. One that caught my eye was this:
I was unfortunately hospitalized in Nepal with an undiagnosed tropical disease and TT paid out for everything I required at the time including hospital costs as an inpatient for eight days and hospital fees as an outpatient for three weeks after, enabling me to continue my trip.
This is an eventuality I hadn't considered. This chap came down with an unidentified tropical disease, and True Traveller paid for all the care so he could continue his trip.
There would be nothing more upsetting than having to pull out of a great adventure due to illness, and this story shows True Traveller go above and beyond with their customer service.
Travel Insurance Policies for Over 70s
Option 3: Insure My Trip
Some insurance policies have a maximum age restriction of 70, and most don't take those aged 75 and over.
This is the reason why I get so many emails from seniors saying that they've been hunting around and can't find cover for their age.
Don't worry, though, all is not lost, you can get cover.
In this situation I recommend Insure My Trip.
This is an online broker service that scans all available policies from numerous providers and returns relevant results based on your criteria.
Below are a few quotes I got from Insure My Trip with the following criteria:
Travel Dates: 03/26/22 – 04/09/22 (2 weeks)
Traveler age: 75
Total trip cost: $2,500 (I entered an approximate figure based on a hotel for $125 a night plus a $750 flight).
The system returned 19 quotes in total, ranging in price and level of cover. Anything under $200 at age 75 is an absolute steal in my opinion.
+ Click here to get a quote from Insure My Trip.
* Bear in mind that the companies you are quoted from on IMT may require a return flight date for the policy, and may not offer cover if you are already traveling, so you wouldn't be able to extend. However, if you are over 70 then you probably have a fixed flight date, anyway.
Choosing Your Policy
When comparing the quotes from World Nomads and True Traveller, the True Traveller ‘Traveller Plan' (with excess) is cheaper by £15 ($19) on the ‘Standard Plan' and by £20 ($26) on the ‘Explorer Plan'.
You can't really compare the two companies exactly side by side, though, because the World Nomad's ‘Standard Plan' falls somewhere between the ‘Value' and ‘Traveller Plans' of True Traveller.
However, the ‘Plus Plan' and ‘Explorer Plan' are fairly comparable, and with excess turned on for True Traveller, the difference is about £20 cheaper in TT's favor.
That said, you do get Trip Interruption cover as standard on the World Nomads ‘Explorer Plan', which might be worth the extra £20 to you.
However, you need to consider whether you require any additional cover such as Winter Sports, Hiking, or cover for high-value electronic items.
If you are over 70, you might still be able to get a policy from these two companies, but those over 75 will definitely need to use Insure My Trip.
Do get quotes from all three.
True Traveller is probably cheaper on a standard trip to Thailand for anywhere between 14-90 days, but if you have additional requirements or want the highest possible cover for medical, personal liability, baggage, cancellations, etc., then get a quote from both as the prices will differ depending on your package.
And if you're reading this and panicking because you've already left home and forgotten to get insurance, or because you decided that going home sucked and you've opted to travel for longer, you're in luck.
Both of my recommendations will cover you while you are traveling in Thailand. True Traveller even has an ‘Already Traveling?' box to tick on the main quote page.
COVID-19 Travel Insurance Requirement
There is currently a mandatory insurance requirement for COVID-19.
For COVID-19 specifically, your policy must cover related medical expenses of no less than 20,000 USD for the period of your stay in Thailand.
If you have an existing policy or a preferred company in mind, make sure you check that your policy does meet the minimum requirement.
At the time of writing, most policies have been updated to include cover for Covid-19, but do check the small print of your policy to make sure.
There are some other requirements for traveling to Thailand at this time that you need to be aware of.
I have written an FAQ-based post with further details for you at the link below.
It's important not to overlook travel insurance cover, especially in a country like Thailand.
Saving a dime here or there just isn't worth it, because this policy will protect you in the event of an accident, illness, lost luggage or missed flight.
Save your haggling for the Thai street markets and give yourself peace of mind with a solid policy from a reputable provider.
We've all read the stories of foreigners without travel insurance having terrible accidents in Thailand (usually on a motorbike). They find themselves stuck in a government hospital, wracking up a massive bill that they can't pay, and end up having to start a fund raising page to get home.
Don't let that be you. Policies are very affordable, especially when compared with the entire cost of your trip.