How To Know If Long-Term Travel Insurance Is Right For Your Trip

You've packed your suitcase, got your passport, and selected a book to read in-flight, but there is one more thing you can't really start your trip without: travel insurance. If you are going on a weekend getaway to the Florida Keys or a five-day honeymoon to Tulum, travel insurance may not be completely necessary. However, if you are planning a longer trip, you will certainly need comprehensive long-term travel insurance before jumping on that plane.

Typically, you can (and should) purchase long-term travel insurance for trips that last anywhere between a few months and a year or two, depending on the insurance provider and policy. Perhaps you are taking a gap year in Australia, or planning to study in Italy or work abroad in Japan — serious life events can happen in this extended time period that could require practical, medical, and financial aid only offered by long-term travel insurance.

Taking multiple, shorter trips in the same window puts you in a similar boat. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a rough spot if something unpleasantly mundane or gravely unfortunate happens abroad. The world of insurance policies can often be difficult and overwhelming to navigate, so here is a comprehensive map to ensure you are insured for your upcoming long-term trip.

A longer trip is a more unpredictable one

While abroad for an extended period, peace of mind is essential. Start researching and comparing policies ahead of time, because plans vary in coverages, conditions, and prices. Check with the providers you rely on at home as well — for example, health insurance — to see what they cover and what gaps you may have to fill during your extended time away; this is another important factor in determining if travel insurance is right for your trip and what type to purchase.

Most long-term travel insurance policies cover medical expenses, trip cancellations or interruptions, personal liability, and personal effects, among other things. An insurance policy that checks all those boxes would be most recommended, because "anything that can go wrong will go wrong," per the infamous Murphy's Law. Longer trips require greater financial investment — plus, the longer you're away, the higher the chances of something happening.

If you need to go to a hospital because you got stomach poisoning or to return back home due to an unexpected emergency; if your baggage gets stolen in a busy airport; or if you do something unintentional for which you can be held liable, you can rest assured you'll be covered. Something as simple and frustrating as mishandled or delayed baggage can easily ruin a trip, and it statistically averages about 5.69 bags per 1000 passengers as recorded in 2019 by SITA, a specialist in air transport. If you think it's not going to happen to you, think again — especially if your long-term travel plans involve multiple flights.

Key considerations when choosing long-term travel insurance

Although obvious, yet also easily overlooked, it is crucial to make sure that your policy covers the entire duration of your trip and maybe even longer — or that extending your trip is within your coverage limits. What if you feel like spending an extra week in Vietnam to explore the Northern Highlands — or if unforeseen delays simply prevent you from returning home on time? You can entertain the spontaneous while legally covered.

Most importantly, purchase a travel policy from a reputable insurance company with a stellar track record for customer service and claims processing. Some highly rated providers offering long-term travel insurance policies include HTH Travel Insurance, Nationwide, and Seven Corners, among others. Pick a provider known for dealing specifically with issues likely to come up on your trip — for example, look for evacuation provisions if you're traveling to unsafe areas, coverage for "adventurous" activities if you're planning on bungee jumping, or prescription coverage if you'll need to fill them while you're away.

In the case of an emergency abroad, caring and timely service from your insurance provider can truly be life-changing. Now, with a suitcase, passport, a book for the flight, and insurance information in hand, you are ready to go. Be smart, be safe, be explorative, and if you're gone for a few months or more, for Murphy's sake, be covered with long-term travel insurance.