Should I Get Travel Insurance?

If you are asking yourself “Should I get travel insurance?” for your trip to Tibet, you need to answer some questions:

Yungbulakang in Central Tibet
Yungbulakang in Central Tibet
  • Does my health insurance cover medical expenses for my trip destination?
  • Does it cover emergency medical evacuation?
  • Does the credit card I’m using for trip purposes cover any travel-related mishaps? 
  • Do I or any of my close loved ones have any medical conditions that might require me to interrupt or cancel my trip?
  • Am I going somewhere where the trip may be canceled due to political reasons?
  • Even if my health insurance and/or credit card company covers certain travel-related problems, do they cover everything I need? In other words, do I need to fill in some gaps in my coverage with travel insurance?
  • What’s my risk tolerance? Some people prefer to pay a bit to have peace of mind while others hate paying for something they suspect they will never use. 

There are other considerations too, but these are some that we have come to look at over the years of traveling internationally.

Disclaimer: We are not even close to experts in this matter. This post expresses our own personal experience with travel insurance and is not intended to be taken as professional or legal advice. Please read the insurance documents with care before and after you purchase insurance to make sure you understand what coverage you have. And ask a lot of questions before you buy!

Where to Find Good Travel Insurance?

The good news is that there are now websites that enable you to do some quick comparison shopping for your travel insurance, if you decide you need it. Most popular among these types of companies are InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth. 

For our most recent trip, we checked out both of them and ended up choosing a company through InsureMyTrip because our experience there was a bit better.

Disclosure:  Please note that at no additional cost to you, we will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase through the links on this page.  Please understand that we have experience with both of the companies we are recommending, and that we recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commission we make if you decide to buy something.  Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

How do InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth Compare?

Generally speaking we think that InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth provide a similar level of service. Both services are easy to use. You go through a short and user-friendly online process answering questions about your travel, and then the sites give you a list of quotes from various insurance companies that provide the sort of coverage you want. Both have live agents you can call by phone to ask questions. 

Both sites seem to feature only fairly high-quality insurers, and we felt fairly confident with both InsureMyTrip and SquareMouth that we were getting reputable, well-rated insurers. That said, insurance companies are notorious for nit-picking you to death about obscure rules when it comes time to make a claim. With just a tiny bit of research of reviews of a few companies that were offering quotes for our trip, we found a long list of complaints from people who had trouble processing a claim. These were among the very best rated companies! Many people processed claims just fine – just be aware that you need to really try to understand exactly what coverage you need and what you are getting. See more on this in this post below.

Why we Prefered InsureMyTrip Over SquareMouth

  • Simply put, we thought that InsureMyTrip had an edge in customer service.
  • We called InsureMyTrip a couple of times. The first time, we got one very knowledgeable and helpful rep who patiently responded to all our questions and then set up the trip for us in their system and emailed a couple of quotes to us. We called again later and got a much less friendly and responsive guy. The lesson learned is that if you don’t get a good rep the first time, just get off the phone and call back to try another one.
  • When we called SquareMouth, the customer service person was nice enough but clearly not very service-oriented. We had specific questions about our trip and the rep. pretty much kept repeating an insurance manual sort of answer and told us to figure it out the details ourselves. Basically, they lost our business because of this call!
  • Personally, we like the InsureMyTrip web interface better. It’s super clear and straightforward. SquareMouth was also fine, but we just like InsureMyTrip a bit better.

A Specific Insurer we Used for Travel in India

When we traveled to India in December and January this year, we didn’t know about InsureMyTrip, so asked our travel agent for some recommendations and then researched around a bit. We ended up using Travel Guard (by AIG), for a couple of reasons:

  • Travel Guard great phone help – this is really important to us.
  • They had good ratings
  • Other insurers that we checked out at that time, AllianceGlobal Insurance or WorldNomad, did not look as good for the pre-existing medical condition waiver we needed and/or were not as helpful on the phone.

We didn’t need to file any claims on the insurance, so we can’t speak to that (important) part of their service, but we were well satisfied with our interactions with them. In fact, we would have bought this insurance for our current trip planning, but found that their “cancel for any reason” insurance only covers 50%. For other trips, when we don’t need “cancel for any reason” insurance, we would definitely consider Travel Guard again.

Before You Buy

Once you get some quotes from various insurers, you need to start getting more specific about the actual coverage you are receiving. Some questions to ask: 

  • Does the insurance:
    • cover medical emergency evacuation? 
    • exclude “dangerous activities,” and does it consider something like trekking in the Himalayas, or whatever it is that you want to do,  a “dangerous activity”? 
    • pay doctors or hospitals directly rather than having to pay on the spot and claim later?
    • offer “cancel for any reason” coverage? This includes needing to cancel your trip for government or political shutdowns that force you to abandon your trip. Note: this coverage is never, we think, 100%. The best we have found was 75%. If you need it, ask InsureMyTrip to help you locate the insurer that provides the best coverage for this. 
    • offer a “Pre-existing medical conditions waiver”?  In addition to any medical conditions you yourself may have, ask for this if you need coverage in case of returning home for family medical emergencies, for elderly parents, for example, ask for this. This can cover medical problems with both you and your family members at home. Be sure to understand the rules for getting this, which often require that you buy full coverage and that you buy it within 14 days of your first trip-related expense. 

Our Two Recommendations so Far

  • InsureMyTrip: To easily generate and compare quotes from reputable insurers for your trip
  • Travel Guard: One company we liked (without having to file a claim) for a trip that did not require “cancel for any reason” coverage.

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Updated on February 9, 2020. First published on October 25, 2015.

Your Tibet travel advisors, Lobsang and Yolanda

Most people who want to go to Tibet don't know how to get there or who to trust for help. We’re Lobsang Wangdu and Yolanda O’Bannon, and we help make Tibet travel more simple, safe and ethical so you can feel peace of mind about your trip. Learn more about us and YoWangdu here.

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