Thursday, February 8, 2007

Getting the Right Travel Insurance

In a previous post I described the fairly poor selection of insurance options open to travelers who didn't fit in to a very restrictive category (backpacking students are OK, 3-week tripper families are fine too, but backpacking families are as well received as a fart in a church).

I've found two places that will entertain me with a quote. The first is WorldNomad which seems like a popular site and is recommended by Lonely Planet. I got the second quote quite simply by contacting the insurance brokers that helped me with my house and motor insurance: O'Leary Insurances right here in Cork.

First up, Nomad are cheaper at a little over 800 Euro. In fact when I told the Cork broker about their price his first reaction was to tell me to go with them! But I asked him to send me on a quote in any case, asking for a discount based on the fact that I was an existing customer. The price he came back to me with was 1100 Euros.

At face value I would be right to go with Nomad, but there's more to it than that. The insurance products on offer are actually very very different. For starters, the Nomad policy goes up to a maximum combined payout of 250,000 Euro per person per trip. So even if it appears that it'll pay 100% of hospitalization and 100% of Compassionate Emergency Repatriation, there is still that ceiling of 1M in total for the family (might sound like a lot, but compared to what other policies offer it's very modest). And it doesn't protect you in the case of cancellation nor does it cover activities like skiing.

My local insurance broker's suggestion, while costing almost 300 Euro more, has a lot going for it. Firstly, their is no overall ceiling - just a ceiling per cover section. So for example, there is a 6,350,000 Euro maximum per person for medical expenses. There's personal liability cover set at a max of 2.5 M Euro (as we're not going to the US, we're less in need of this kind of cover, but it's nice to have). Adventurous activities like skiing and scuba diving will most likely be covered without any need for extra on the premium. But most importantly, I'd have a broker - with his phone number and email address - that I could contact while on the road (or indeed on our return) to help with any questions or claims. That counts for an awful lot. Already he was able to answer a lot of questions about fine print, and offer advice on when I should actually take out the policy.

I'll do some extra fishing around, but so far, I have to say that O'Leary Insurances are worth the few extra euros.

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