Why You Need Travel Insurance
I have worked extensively in the travel industry, mainly in Australia and UK. Therefore, I have sold thousands of travel insurance policies. My aim here is to dissect this internationally popular World Nomads Travel Insurance to see how it stacks up.
Regardless the outcome of this analysis, I always, always recommend travellers to take out travel insurance. The reasons are wide and varied, but include:
For me, about 90% of my travel insurance claims were for medical reasons. The other claims have been for damaged personal items, like when my camera got water damage from a freak wave in stormy Italy. It makes me feel safe knowing that I have an organisation to rely on for any type of help while travelling.
The onus is on the traveller to check their governments travel advice before departing.
What extra benefits does World Nomads travel insurance offer that others don't?
Can purchase when you're already overseas
When purchasing travel insurance from companies based in your country, they usually have a limitation that you must purchase the policy before you depart.
However, with World Nomads, you can buy a policy if you’re already travelling, working, living or studying in another country.
Never seen a policy that includes a list of alternative therapies. It includes chiropractor, acupuncturist or osteopath, as prescribed by your treating doctor.
Includes clinical psychology after assault or trauma on your holiday.
Help travellers in other ways
I love the way World Nomads think beyond travel insurance to help travellers. They have a travel blog, podcast, destination guides and promote responsible travel. They also offer travel writing, film and photography scholarships.
Automatic cover for 120+ activities
Out of all the insurance policies I have sold in my travel agent life, this has the most comprehensive list of adventure activities I have ever seen.
Click on the tabs in the next section below for a quick reference on which activities are automatically included in your cover and which activities will require an extra payment.
120+ activities are automatically included
World Nomads specialises in travel adventures and covers up to 150 different activities. From adventure activities, sports and volunteer work. Too much to list here but some examples are abseiling, archery, ballooning, bungy jumping, horse riding, jet boating, jet skiing, kayaking, paragliding, parasailing, skydiving, white water rafting and more.
Some activities are automatically included in the policy. For other more risky activities, there will be an extra premium added to the insurance price. Once you select the policy you want, there is a box to select your activity and check if there is a premium to pay.
I went through the whole list and have separated them for you for an easy quick reference.
Just click on each orange button below to see the list.
[updated Jan 2020 - however, always recheck when you are in the process of purchasing a policy]
Angling/fishing – inland or within 3 nautical miles
Au pair/nanny – paid or volunteer childcare
Australian Rules Football - AFL
Ballooning – hot air
Banana boat rides
Bar work – hospitality, manual work
BMX – on road, no tricks or jumps
Boating/canoeing/kayaking/sailing – inland or coastal waters within 3 nautical miles
Bobsled - non-snow track
Camel riding - single ride / day tour
Caving - sightseeing / tourist attraction
Cycling - incidental to the trip; independent touring; on organised tour, up to 2,000 metres in elevation
Diving - scuba to 30 metres
Diving - scuba, unqualified / learn to dive course / discover dive with qualified instructor
Dragon boating - inland or coastal waters
Elephant riding - single ride / day tour
Flying - as a passenger in a licensed scheduled or chartered aircraft or helicopter
Fruit picking - WWOOFing, general farm work, manual work
Glacier walking - ice walking
Gym training - aerobics, spinning, zumba, body pump, weight training, cross training, crossfit
High diving up to 10 metres - excluding cliff diving / deep water soloing
Hiking/camping - up to 2,000 metres
Horse riding - leisure / social / non-competitive riding
Hydrospeeding - grades 1-5
Ice skating - indoor
Kite boarding - on land or water
Martial arts - non-contact
Motor racing experience - passenger only
Motorbiking - on road
Motorbiking - pillion passenger with a licensed driver
Mountain biking - downhill, up to 6,000 metres
Office work - paid or volunteer clerical, non-manual work
Outward Bound activities
Paint balling / airsoft
Parasailing - over water
Retail work - shop assistant / manager, general retail, manual work
River boarding - grades 1-5
Rugby - league / union
Running / jogging - half marathon distance or less
Safari tours - excluding handling of big game or dangerous animals
Sail boarding - inland or coastal waters within 3 nautical miles only
Sandboarding / sandskiing
Scrambling - up to 2,000 metres
Scuba diving - to 30 metres
Scuba diving - unqualified / learn to dive course / discover dive with qualified instructor
Shark cage diving - non-qualified at surface or qualified to scuba dive to 30 metres
Skateboarding - ramp, half pipe, skate park, street
Sleigh rides - horse drawn
Squash / raquet ball
Stand up paddle surfing
Surf boat rowing
Swimming - pool; enclosed, inland or coastal waters within 3 nautical miles only
Teaching - paid or volunteer, child care, non-manual work
Tubing on rivers
Tuk Tuk - as a passenger
Volunteer manual work - hospitality, retail, general farm work
Volunteer non-manual work - teaching, clerical, childcare
Wakeboarding - excluding jumps
Water skiing - excluding jumps
White water kayaking - inland / coastal waters within 3 nautical miles, grades 1-5
White water rafting - grades 1-5
Windsurfing - inland or coastal waters within 3 nautical miles
Work - manual work - hospitality, retail, general farm work
Work - non-manual work - teaching, clerical, childcare
WWOOFing - general farm work, fruit picking, manual work
Yoga - class, alone / home practice
Angling/fishing – beyond 3 nautical miles
Angling/fishing – ice
Black water rafting – cave tubing
BMX – off road / on track / cross country
Boating/canoeing/kayaking/sailing – beyond 3 nautical miles
Bobsled - in snow
Camel trekking - overnight / main mode of transport
Cave tubing - grades 1-5
Cavern diving - to 40 metres
Caving - spelunking
Clay pigeon shooting
Cycling - incidental to the trip; independent touring; on organised tour, 2,000 to 6,000 metres in elevation
Deep sea fishing
Diving - scuba to 30 to 40 metres
Elephant trekking - overnight / main mode of transport
Fly by wire
Hiking/camping – between 2,000 to 6,000 metres
Horse riding - equestrian, dressage, show jumping, eventing
Hunting - excluding big game
Ice hockey - indoor
Ice skating - outdoor
Kite wing - land, water, snow
Martial arts - Judo, Karate
Motorbiking - off road, trail bike riding
Mountain biking - off road / cross country, up to 6,000 metres in elevation
Multi-sport, triathlon, outdoor endurance - less than ultra distance
Obstacle course / assault course / trim trail
Parachuting - one jump only
Potholing - caving
Quad biking - excluding travellers aged 15 years or younger
Rifle range / sports shooting
Rock climbing - bouldering / no ropes / no equipment
Rock climbing - indoor
Rock climbing - outdoor / sport climbing / bolted
Running - marathon distance
Scrambling – 2,000 to 6,000 metres
Scuba diving - instructor or guide
Scuba diving – 30 to 40 metres
Shooting - rifle range / sports
Ski / snowboard - instructor or guide
Skiing - back country / outside of resort boundary / alpine ski touring
Skiing - by helicopter / snow cat
Skiing - cross country / Nordic skiing on marked trails
Skiing - dry slope
Skiing - on piste or off piste within resort boundaries
Skydiving - one jump only
Sledding / tobogganing / snow sleds / snow sleighs - on snow
Snowboarding - back country / outside of resort boundary / alpine ski touring
Snowboarding - by helicopter / snow cat
Snowboarding - dry slope
Snowboarding - on piste or off piste within resort boundaries
Snowboarding - terrain park within resort, excluding acrobatics
Swimming - with whales / whale sharks - inside or outside coastal waters
Tandem skydiving - one jump only
Trail bike riding - motorbiking off road
Triathlon - less than ultra distance
Tubing on snow
Volunteer instructor or guide - in other covered activities
Volunteer instructor or guide - ski, snowboard, scuba dive
Volunteer manual work - any work with power tools or working at height under 5 metres
Water skiing - barefoot
Windsurfing - beyond 3 nautical miles
Work - as an instructor or guide in other covered activities
Work - instructor or guide - ski, snowboard, scuba dive
Work - manual work - any work with power tools or working at height under 5 metres
Real life experiences by my clients:
A young guy falling off a balcony...
Halfway through his Bali holiday, he somehow managed to fall off his first floor balcony and broke many bones. He was able to call the 24 hour emergency assistance number. They advised that due to his injuries, it was best for him to be flown back to Australia for medical attention. Of course they did a blood test first. If there was alcohol or drugs in his system then he was liable for all the costs. Luckily he was clean and was flown back to Australia that day. He was thankful that I convinced him to buy a $68 insurance policy as it saved him $60,000 emergency charter flight back home.
Break a leg while skiing...
I remember a lovely Perth couple returning early from their Canadian winter holiday. At the last minute they decided to go skiing. The wife fell awkwardly and broke her leg. One week in hospital cost nearly $50,000. Thats why you definitely need travel insurance when exploring North America as hospital costs are astronomical.
Thankfully she had purchased travel insurance which included payment to the hospital and for flights back home early.
Types of policies
World Nomads offer two types of policies:
Standard - contains the basic important benefits that you will need. Basically it covers everything except for Car Rental damage. Most of the benefits cover for a lower amount than the Explorer policy.
Explorer – has all the benefits of the Standard Plan plus
- more benefits, like rental vehicle insurance
- more activities included and hiring of sporting equipment
- higher benefit amounts, therefore it is more expensive than the Standard policy
When you complete an online quote, the results will show you the exact amounts you are covered for. For example, below is the comparison for a US citizen:
You can read more on what's covered here.
Base your decision on the policy that will adequately cover your needs.
Most importantly look at medical expenses and baggage/personal items limits first.
The essential benefits
World Nomads definitely provides a fully comprehensive travel insurance policy that I would expect from a travel insurer. They have thought of everything a traveller may need.
In this section, I cover what I believe are most essential to be included in a travel insurance policy. This is what you should look out for too when comparing prices/policies with other insurance companies.
- 1Overseas medical
It covers hospitalisation, doctors visits, prescribed medication, chiro, osteo, acupuncture and certain counselling. With World Nomads standard plan starting with a $5 million cover, you can rest easy.
Special note: for travel to USA/Canada, I recommend the Explorer plan with unlimited cover. That’s’ because the average cost for a hospital stay is about $10k per day!
- 2Medical repatriation
Cover to fly you home for ongoing treatment, if the World Nomads emergency team deem it medically necessary.
The policy will cover only healthy teeth or teeth with fillings (no falseys!!). Therefore, you are covered if you suddenly have a cracked or chipped tooth, dental infection or dental surgery resulting from an accident.
It covers theft or accidental damage to your luggage in specified incidents. However, sub-limits are placed on individual items, including electronic devices (cameras, phones, laptops etc), digital storage hardware, passport & travel documents and all other items. So make sure you are adequately covered by checking those amounts first when you get your quote. You can increase the cover value on those individual items but for an extra cost.
Please note, you are not covered if you leave you luggage unattended in a public place (including the beach), in an unlocked car, overnight in a car or unsecured in a hotel room. Watch or lock your valuable stuff!
- 5Trip Cancellation fees
World Nomads will cover you for 14 different reasons if you have to cancel your travel. Common reasons being:
- a doctor certifies you unfit to travel
- your travelling companion or close relative is hospitalised or dies unexpectedly.
- transport is cancelled due to severe weather, natural disaster or strike
- you’re made redundant
- called to jury duty
PLEASE NOTE: disease outbreaks/pandemics have never been included in travel insurance policies. I remember back in 2003 when SARS disrupted many holiday plans and travellers were disappointed to learn that their travel insurance policy did cover such events.
The other benefits
The following benefits are usually included in most travel insurance policies. Sometimes you have to upgrade to a higher policy to have them included.
To me, these are 'just in case' scenarios - unlikely to happen but could happen. Therefore, I don't consider them essential when I'm looking/comparing policies but if they are included then its nice to have. World Nomads includes these benefits.
- 1Delayed luggage
If your luggage is delayed by more than 12 hours, you are covered for essential item purchases. Such items include toiletries, underwear, socks and t-shirts. You do need to get a Property Irregularity Report from the offending airline!
Please note: The airline is obliged to give you cover anyway and you must use this option first before claiming from insurance.
- 2Rental vehicle insurance
This is handy if you plan to rent a car on your holiday. It covers your rental vehicle insurance excess for the cost of repair that you are liable to pay if the rented vehicle is damaged or stolen. However, to qualify you must purchase the insurance offered by the car rental company. Note that there are special conditions for hiring mopeds or scooters.
- 3Natural disasters
These days it feels like the frequency of natural disasters are on the increase and worsening in intensity. So World Nomads will cover you if you bought the policy before the disaster was in the media. If you’re overseas caught up in it, then they will get you out.
I was caught in Kathmandu during the big Nepal earthquake in 2015. My insurance company was offering free flights out of the country but I couldn't get in touch with them due to no phone/internet connectivity. However, I did manage to get on a plane to K.L.. They covered my medical expenses I needed in Malaysia as I couldn't get to a hospital in Kathmandu.
This is a tricky one. Terrorism is on the rise too these days. If the event is unforeseen, you are still covered for hospitalisation, prescribed medicines and medical repatriation. But you won’t be covered to cancel your holiday, trip interruption expenses or simply changing your mind to go.
- 5Other benefits
There are many other benefits that are included in World Nomads policy. I call these extra little bonuses but not essential. Includes out–of-pocket expenses in hospital, trip interruption costs, compassionate emergency visit home, resumption of trip, hire of sporting equipment, kidnap or hijack, accidental death & permanent total disablement and personal liability.
What are the con's for World Nomads insurance policy
- 1Can't make an extra payment to reduce the claims excess to Nil.
With other companies I've been able to pay approx $25 to reduce the excess to zero. This is helpful for small claims. Quite often in my travels I end up seeing a doctor. The bill is usually under $300. But if your policy has a $200-$300 excess, you will get very little or nothing back. Therefore, paying an extra $25 was always worth my while. However, World Nomads does have a low excess of AU$100 (the amount differs according to which country you live in)
- 2There is a maximum age limit for some products at 70 years of age. However, still get a quote online as some countries may offer a partnered policy. For example, World Nomads offer the Silver Nomad policy for Americans aged over 70 years.
- 3There is no option to cover for a pre-existing condition thats not on their list. If your condition is one of the 23 listed, you are automatically covered but with certain conditions.
There are other travel insurance companies that will give you the opportunity to submit a medical from your doctor. After their own medical team assesses it, they will either decline it or accept it but with a premium added to the policy cost.
- 4In my eyes, the medical benefit is quite low. In the case of a US citizen, both the Standard and Explorer policies is $100,000. Most other travel insurance polices I deal with offer between $500,000 to Unlimited. This is most useful for when travelling to North America as their daily hospital fees are astronomical.
See what other travel bloggers are saying about World Nomads travel insurance.
Will Hatton (The Broke Backpacker) - travel blogger
"In 2017, I became very sick with Dengue Fever in Koh Lanta, Southern Thailand. I was too far from a hospital and so I ended up in a private clinic – which was a big mistake. As soon as I walked in, the main doctor was practically rubbing his hands together with glee. I was too sick to really notice and went on to get treated.
When I went in, I was asked for, and gave, my passport so they could make a photocopy. I had administered fluids, plenty of pills and spent an uncomfortable night tossing and turning on a bed. The next day I asked for my passport back and was informed that I would only get it back once the bill was paid. I asked for the bill and it was a massive 25,000 Bhat – nearly $1000. I explained that I didn’t have that kind of money but that I did have travel insurance and they would pay it back. To my horror and surprise, the two doctors then began shouting at me, insisting I would not get my passport back till I paid. I felt weak still from the Dengue and was in no state to start busting heads.
I called World Nomads – they were extremely surprised that my passport was being held ransom, insisting that it was illegal. They were right. World Nomads dealt with the whole thing for me and thirty minutes later, my bill was paid and my passport was released – I was extremely impressed with World Nomad’s professional service and very gratefully to them getting me out of a bind."
Nomadic Matt - travel blogger
"In Argentina, I was suffering from anxiety and worried that it was something more. It felt like someone was stomping on my chest. I logged into the portal, got the call center number, and called the hotline. They took my information and symptoms and gave me a list of emergency doctors that they recommended. The One Call system was helpful, quick, and got me a doctor right away. I was very happy with the service and know that if something really does go wrong, they act quickly!"
Verdict - World Nomads Travel Insurance gets a big thumbs up
World Nomads provide a competitive price and good overall coverage, especially if you are generally healthy and under 70.
So get a quote now to check their competitive pricing and list of inclusions. Always compare like for like - the cheaper the price, the less benefits it includes for you. Make sure it covers your type of travel groove.
The stuff you need to be aware of
World Nomads automatically covers a pre-defined list of pre-existing conditions. If your condition is not listed, then there is no cover for claims arising from your pre-existing illness. Carefully read through the policy document when you get a quote.
When you get your quote, the relevant excess is mentioned in the policy document.
Depreciation on luggage items
If World Nomads choose to reimburse the purchase price of your stolen/damaged item, they will deduct for normal wear and tear by using a depreciation scale of their choice.
For all stolen/lost items, you must get a police report within 24 hours. A copy of the report must be submitted with the claim.
Keep receipts and documented records of everything, even all those electronic devices that you bring with you. Makes the claims procedure less stressful.
Easy access to your policy number
Keep your insurance policy number within easy access while you travel and give to your travelling partner. Makes it easier when contacting World Nomads 24/7 emergency assistance.
Here is the comparison checklist that I go through myself when looking for the best travel insurance policy for my holiday:
- Check the limits are to your satisfaction. For example, adequate medical cover and suitable luggage sub-limits for cover your expensive items that you will bring.
- Read the exclusions for each benefit.
- Double check it will cover the activities (adventure and sports) you like to do on holidays.
- Read all the FAQs on their website.
- Always read the fine print – the full description of cover in the Policy wording for your country of residence. Particularly the General Exclusions, to make sure its the right fit for you. (Policy wordings vary for different regions of the world, as each region is underwritten by different insurers.)