Each year, millions travel around SE Asia, Australia and a host of other places for extended stays of three months, six months, and quite often, a year straight.
Doing so means you have to purchase ‘long stay' or ‘backpacker' travel insurance.
But what 90% of travellers don't realise is that their travel insurance is invalid. That's right, thousands, right now, are travelling with invalid insurance, thinking they are fully covered.
Indeed, unbeknown to me, I was travelling with invalid travel insurance for three years!
All because of one simple clause:
“You must have a return ticket pre-booked to be able to purchase the policy.”
Or, as some policies state:
“You must have a return ticket or an open ticket pre-booked to be able to purchase the policy”.
The majority of us who travel to countries in SE Asia for extended periods don't have a return flight date. I don't have one for my Non-immigrant ‘O' 1 year Thai visa, which means that if I purchase a policy that requires me to have a pre-booked or open ticket, the policy is invalid regardless of my purchase.
Worried? You Should Be!
Insurance companies do not point this out to you for two reasons:
1. They expect you to thoroughly read the terms and conditions.
2. They want you to make that error.
Fortunately, most travellers don't end up making a serious claim for expensive medical care or loss of baggage. But if you do, and you are asked for your return flight date when you call up to activate the claim, you may – depending on your policy – get a nasty surprise.
You may get away with small claims on theft and baggage, but believe me, if you put in for a substantial medical claim, your insurance company will be double-checking to see whether they can wriggle out of paying you by tripping you up on this heavily overlooked clause.
That's Unfair…And Stupid!
It is. It makes no sense to expect all travellers to have a return flight date when the at the very heart of travelling is the freedom to choose when you return, visa permitting, of course. But it's also stupid not to read the terms and conditions.
Once I'd realised the fact that my travel insurance had been invalid because my lack of a return flight date, I set out to find an insurance company that didn't require a return flight date and would cover me regardless. And I found one!
I spoke to World Nomads and explained I had a 1-year visa and had no return flight date. They knew all about this naughty clause imposed by some companies and assured me I didn't need to have a return flight booked with their insurance.
Moreover, World Nomads will insure you when you're abroad, if you've forgotten to get insurance before you left!
This was pleasing because they are also the cheapest (with great cover) company I could find, providing pricing tiers for economy (backpacker) and premium (extended business) travellers.
Don't get caught out by not reading the small print. This schoolboy error could cost you big time, especially if you get sick, which does happen to thousands of people travelling to Thailand and neighbouring countries each year.
My WorldNomads policy was the best I could find after 3 days searching for a company that did cover me without a return flight. Make sure you're covered and get one of these reliable policies.