It matters because even a little thing going wrong can cause major distress if you are not covered. Take from us first hand it can ruin you trip and be very expensive. Here are five things to consider:
If your current health insurance doesn't cover you while abroad (those in the European Union can be covered under a free scheme) something going wrong can get very expenise especially if serious and sudden.
Pretty unlikely, but if require emergency evacuations can cost anywhere between US$20,000 and US$60,000. Without insurance you can kiss your travel fund goodbye as these are costs for you. Having travel insurance can protect you if you need to be evacuated due to a medical emergency.
If you your trip or cut it short due to a defined event (like you getting sick, a serious delay (think the volcano that grounded European flights not too recently) or being unable to travel) you can deal with the stress of that event knowing any pre-paid travel and accommodation will be reimbursed.
Getting robbed, damaging or losing something sucks. It sucks slightly less when you know you can recover all or part of the cost.
No one likes to think the worst when they go travelling, but things can go wrong. If you have travel insurance, you can receive a benefit amount for the loss of life or limb as a result of an accidental injury during the trip.
It goes without saying you need travel insurance for any trip, but it's not something you should be sorting out at the last minute as policies
vary significantly and you need to spend a little time reading all the small print. For example, to find out if cash and indeed any of your valuables are
covered - which they are often not on the very cheap policies - and how much the excess is that you would be expected to pay should the worst happen.
Cheap policies are fine for the important health cover aspect, but don't expect to have your $200 camera covered or any previous medical condition. Conversely on expensive policies, don't expect your $2000 camera to be covered unless you have made special measures for it.
One recommended and well-known crowd are Columbus, but new companies are always coming onto the scene (e.g. Globelink) and the market is very competitive. One such newer start up that comes highly recommended from several e-mailed comments and personal experience is World Nomads. They claim to be set up with backpackers in mind. You can do things like extend policies indefinitely and/or make claims online whilst still on the road. They offer a money back guarantee, cover the likes of surfing, diving, trekking and bikes (which many don't as standard) and you can buy from any country in the world. All of which is useful and worth checking out. It can also be said (after years of comparison) that their terms and rates are favourable.
It is also worth noting, as with many similar companies, that World Nomads isn't an insurance company themselves, they are merely a retailer for various big international insurance companies (whom are mentioned below) and that benefits vary depending on the country you buy their policy from, for example in the USA their maximum item cover is lower than elsewhere - however there are solutions to get around this, see comment.
With all policies make sure you read the small print and compare a few providers. No company is perfect (certainly not World Nomads) and competitive terms often come with loop-holes and coverage black-spots. Remember, as with car or household insurance any provider will try their hardest not to payout or limit the amount in the event of a claim (there will almost always be a deductable or 'admin charge' on any claim and your paperwork needs be perfect).
Also of note is that many policies now don't cover most acts of terrorism, except for airline hijacking or random acts (like say 9/11 or London tube bombs). The other big consideration is that the definitions of Acts of War and Acts of Terrorism overlap so much that in any country or region where there is even a whiff of insurgency (i.e. somewhere like Pakistan or Lebanon but, also touristy places like Eastern Turkey, Southern Thailand, parts of India and even Fiji) what would widely be considered an act of terrorism by most people, will actually be considered by the insurers as an act of war (insurgency, revolution, civil unrest or coup) and you get covered for nothing. Again, read: the small print, but in many cases there is little you can do.
Whatever policy you buy, the geographic regions included may vary the price; try to get a policy that excludes North America or just a Europe policy that covers places such as Israel, the Caucasus, and North Africa. Be warned that starting a new policy for another geographic region is often not possible during your trip (i.e. having a cheap European policy and then travelling into Africa/Asia). Only a few companies will give you cover on-line while you are away (i.e. extend the length of your policy if you don't know how long your trip will be). Multi-trip year long policies limit the length of your trip to 30 or 60 days (although 90 days can be found), making them fairly useless for many long haul trips. Good insurance with loads of protection, especially for cash and electronic items is normally quite expensive.
Heavily marketed on the web and recommended by Lonely Planet (whatever that is worth), you can get a quote direct from World Nomads site by clicking here, or otherwise you can use the form above/right. Either way you are always advised to shop around. You could probably find cheaper, but perhaps not better.
WorldNomads.com is backed by a suite of strong, secure, specialist travel insurers who provide you with great cover, 24 hour emergency assistance and the highest levels of support and claims management when you need it most.
All WorldNomads.com members have access to up-to-date travel safety alerts, as well as travel safety advice and tips online through the World Nomads Travel Safety Hub.
We want to make sure you get the most from WorldNomads.com. You can find out more about why travel insurance is important for your trip. If you have any questions about your travel insurance or travel safety in general, please contact WorldNomads.com directly.
WorldNomads.com provides cover for what's important for travellers from over 150 countries. By focussing on what you need and leaving out what you don't, World Nomads prices are some of the most competitive online.
From skiing & snowboarding in New Zealand to whitewater rafting in Colorado, WorldNomads.com covers a range of adventure activities, giving you peace of mind to get the most from your travels.