Do I really need travel insurance for China? I remember my friend asking me this question a few years ago as they were preparing to buy flight tickets. That was before Covid changed travel. My how things have changed! Here’s how I would answer him now about travel insurance.
I remember in my younger years of traveling, the idea of paying for travel insurance was absurd.
I might as well flush that money down the toilet!
At least that was my general thought process. Can you relate?
More than a decade of international travel experience has given me a bit more perspective. I still don’t like the added expense item in my budget, but just like any other insurance you buy…
If you can’t afford to buy travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.
- If you can’t afford car insurance, you shouldn’t be driving.
- If you can’t afford homeowners insurance, you probably shouldn’t own a home.
- And if you can’t afford travel insurance, well…
…you probably shouldn’t be traveling.
That may seem extreme, but it’s true. And as somebody who has had to make use of travel insurance during my travels and known many friends who have as well, there’s another tidbit of truth I’d like to share:
You never truly appreciate the value of insurance until you have to use it.
Personally, I’ve used both World Nomads and SafetyWing since they offer some of the best, least-expensive plans on the market. Before I dive into reasons you should seriously consider one of these best travel insurance companies, let me share with you a few stories to illustrate how travel insurance has come in handy for me and my travel companions.
Note: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I may be compensated if you choose to use some of the services listed below.
Why Travel Insurance? (My Friend’s Story)
Whenever people ask me about travel insurance, one of the first stories I tell is about my friend David (not his real name).
David’s family went into US$80,000 worth of debt to pay his medical bills.
David was a moderately healthy man in his 40s who was traveling around Asia. There were no indications that anything was wrong until he suddenly had a stroke while in China.
He was taken to a local hospital where he was thankfully stabilized and well-cared for. However, the hospital bills were piling up every day and he needed to be transported back to his home country.
In this case, depending on the plan purchased, travel insurance could have:
- Paid his hospital bills after a relatively small deductible was paid.
- Paid for a medical evacuation to return to his home country for proper treatment.
What actually happened? David’s family was forced to pay all the bills out of pocket, which put them over US$80,000 in debt. In addition to this they set up a GoFundMe account that thankfully raised money to repatriate him.
Still, the whole process was messy, expensive and extremely stressful for his family.
9 Reasons to Purchase Travel Insurance
Here are nine simple (but important) reasons why I recommend everybody who is traveling to China – or any international country – to purchase travel insurance:
- Medical emergencies happen…and they’re never cheap.
- Medical evacuation is super expensive out of pocket.
- Covid insurance is now required by most international governments (which is covered by SafetyWing).
- Baggage gets lost or stolen…always at the wrong time.
- What if your trip gets cancelled or cut short? Travel insurance covers that.
- Insurance gives peace of mind for you and your family.
- It’s actually cheap when you compare risk/reward.
- Get useful 24/7 phone support to answer questions while traveling.
- Because it’s the smart way to travel. Period.
Travel Insurance and Lost Baggage (My Story)
I arrived at the airport baggage claim a few years ago and waited for 20 minutes…
…my bag never came out.
There was another bag that looked like mine, but it wasn’t mine.
Turns out, another traveler had mistakenly taken my bag and left with it. Honest mistake, but now I was in a foreign country without any clothes.
Thankfully, travel insurance had me covered. While the airline was working to fix the problem, I called World Nomads (my insurer for that particular trip) and told them the situation. I was able to get reimbursed for clothes I purchased while my bag was being located.
A couple days later, my luggage was returned to me (thankfully!), but the whole ordeal was stressful and frustrating.
Moral of the story: Place some sort of marker (i.e. tie a unique piece of cloth to your luggage) so that you know your own luggage and others won’t mistake it for theirs!
Oh, and cover yourself with travel insurance in case your luggage is still lost or stolen. 🙂
Trip Cancellation & Travel Insurance
This final story is a personal one that some of you may or may not relate to.
A few years ago, my wife and I were traveling around Thailand while she was about 13 weeks pregnant. She was barely showing and there was no reason to think there would be any problems.
For reasons only God knows, she started to get cramps in the middle of the night and after a couple hours of sever pain…she miscarried our baby.
At the time, we were on a fairly secluded island and had been planning to stay there for a few more days and had made non-refundable reservations to continue on to other parts of Thailand.
Instead, we had to rent a last-minute boat to get us back to the mainland and then a private van to get us to a good Bangkok hospital. We spent a couple days in Bangkok before flying home and never finished the rest of the trip.
In this case, travel insurance paid for:
- Our hospital bills in Bangkok
- The transportation to the hospital
- Our non-refundable reservations
In total, we saved thousands of dollars in unexpected medical expenses because we paid just a couple hundred dollars in travel insurance.
Final Thoughts on Travel Insurance for China (or Anywhere)
Trust me, I know the feeling of looking at the cost of travel insurance and thinking “But that could pay for an extra night at a hotel!”
I also know the feeling of thinking “Man, I’m so glad we didn’t have to pay that US$2,000 hospital bill! I don’t know how we could have afforded that.”
Ask anybody who has traveled internationally for more than a year and I bet they’ll have at least one story to tell you about a hospital visit, lost luggage or a trip delay/cancellation. Even English teachers need extra insurance!
It happens to everybody at some point and travel insurance is one of the only ways to mitigate any risk.