Choosing a travel insurance policy for a short trip abroad is never really a problem. There are so many companies with competitive prices that you can afford to shop around for the right cover and price. There are even an assortment of companies offering Long Stay Insurance Packages which commonly offer cover for up to 12 months and occasionally as much as 18 months. Finding an insurer that will allow you to extend your policy while you are on the road is almost impossible. All but one, wants you to return to your resident country first.
BUT, what if you don't want to go home? What if you want to travel this wonderful world indefinitely? What if you are on a bicycle? And what, pray-tell, if you are over the alleged "Backpacker Age" (40-45 years)? Now, the amount of possible World Travel Insurance Companies drops to less than the number of fingers on your hand - assuming of course, you are not a sloth...
But I don't want to go home...
When it comes to long stay travel insurance, those residing in or who are citizens of the UK are definitely the lucky ones. For some reason, the Brits are really big on offering the voyagers of their country plenty of choice. And for extended periods of time too. Very few travel insurance companies offer this protection to EU citizens as well. A couple allow those that have lived for a short term in the UK at some point in their life the chance to insure with them, but you will need to purchase and begin your trip from the UK too. That is not such a problem for those living in Northern Europe. Not one of them will allow you to re-insure or extend your policy whilst on the road.
Worldwide Travel Plan: resident or company registered in UK.
ACE Travel Insurance: another budget insurer for UK residents only.
Insure For Travel: must be a UK resident for 6 months at some point; trip start & cover purchase from UK.
Some online travel insurance companies offer customer discount if you get a reference code.
My Voucher Codes.co.uk
is a website dedicated to listing codes and discounts from leading UK
companies. Just fill in the business name and see if you can save yourself some money.
And then here are two companies that offer a reasonable cover for a reasonable price for long term bicycle tourers:
WorldWideInsure: long stay insurance cover from 2-18 months for travel, work and many sports. They are our current insurer. Initially, we were insured for one year with them and now we have added a further 18 months to our policy, though in order to do that, we had to return to the Netherlands. We could not extend our travel insurance cover from anywhere else. British Mountaineering Council: UK and Irish citizens or residents only with sport activities options.
A couple more worldwide insurers for one year or more travel:
World Escapade: a Canadian based worldwide insurer. Policies can be extended up to one year, and they cover adventure sports. Multinational Underwriters: traveller's medical cover only for no more than 12 months - US citizens. STA Travel: worldwide insurers, though most (budget) policies are for those under 35 years of age and you need extra premium for adventure sport.
And for those of you with a bit of knowledge about travel insurance, you'll be wriggling in your stools right now, muttering: "Why haven't you added WorldNomads to the list too?" Well that's because we are going to dedicate a whole section to this company and you are about to find out exactly why...
Travelling Insurance Salesmen: Not EXACTLY in the policy wording
World Nomads is an Australian internet-based insurance company. They are one of the few insurers covering long term travellers and touring cyclists because as well as offering cover for sporting activities, they boast quite loudly on their website: "Buy, extend and claim online even after you've left home" According to policy wording, there is also no limit to the amount of time that you are away from home either. Perfect we thought.
And so it was...
Right up until we were in the middle of Colombia and they refused to extend our policy. GREAT!
Prior to that time we had claimed nothing and done nothing to deserve a rejection. Their excuse? They had a new underwriter and could no longer offer the same insurance policy. They could however, bid us a new one at 5.3 times the price of the old one. They were so generous as to give us 25% discount on top of this which now meant only 390% increase in travel insurance costs. In money terms that meant an initial 700 odd euro policy jumped to 3,700 and something euros and was then discounted by 25%. Oh bless them! And what happened to that clause that said we could renew indefinitely?
Well we filed a complaint with the underwriter. No luck there, they didn't even listen to us and why would they. It wasn't their fault; it was WorldNomads. We took it a step further and brought the case before the Financial Ombudsman Service in Australia at the beginning of 2010. Again, no luck there. Bamboozlement with policy wording and ambiguity over what the words "renew and extend" actually meant, lead to World Nomads slipping through unpunished. We thought about civil court, but hey, we are better at touring around the world, and not trying to fight legal battles with dishonest insurance companies like WorldNomads.com. Notice: no link here!
But we are publishing this here, because it could happen to you too.
Off somewhere in the middle of your dream vacation and suddenly the underwriter changes in your resident country.
Whammo: you've got a bill that's more like your year's travel budget than a fee for a bit of travel cover.
SO, the moral of the story is: be wary of World Nomads.
We are not the only ones to have a gripe with this company: take a look here to see more on the subject of WN travel Insurance's "reliability"