If you’re preparing for a trip outside of Korea for summer vacation, and you’re wondering if you should buy travel insurance, the answer is YES, YES, YES. Although it seems like a pain to add more money on top of an already expensive trip, imagine adding on another couple thousand dollars, or even a couple hundred thousand dollars if something goes wrong.
Things like car accidents, illnesses, infections (think yeast, UTI), etc, are all very possible when travelling, and getting coverage for these uncontrollable events is essential. Did I expect to find myself in the hospital with a parasite in Ecuador after being so careful about the food and water I consumed? Definitely not. But with a good insurance plan, I left the hospital without spending a penny.
In my whirlwind of planning my move to Korea, purchasing insurance completely slipped my mind. I knew I didn’t need travel insurance for daily life; my job with EPIK would cover the majority of medical visits. From doctor’s visits for 6,000 won and birth control pills for 8,000 won, access to medical needs in Korea is incredibly reasonable with the insurance EPIK teachers automatically receive.
But when winter vacation came upon me, I realized I wouldn’t be covered for my trips to Vietnam and Taiwan. No problem, I’ll just buy travel insurance through CAA as always. At $30 CAD for two weeks and two countries coverage, CAA was the best deal.
Unfortunately, I found that CAA, like most insurance companies, only sells travel insurance to Canadians that haven’t left the country yet. The options were becoming increasingly limited.
Most internet searches bring World Nomads up at the top of the list, and the volatile reviews that come along with it. At the time, this seemed to be the only option and I paid almost $100 USD for 2 weeks of travel insurance. Aside from the price, I felt uneasy about the coverage I was getting based on the terrible reviews, but I felt more comfortable I had something.
Street food, the most delicious way to find yourself feeling ill while travelling.
As summer vacation approaches, I’m getting ready for my one week trip to Japan, and I refuse to be stuck buying over-priced crap coverage from World Nomads! So here are some other options available:
- Buy insurance when you’re still in your home country.
This is probably your best option, but also requires a lot of planning ahead. If I had been organized, I would have purchased coverage through CAA to cover me for my time in Korea knowing I can trust them and get a good price. However, most teachers in Korea have way too much on the plate preparing to move to another country that this option is rarely available.
- Atlas Travel Insurance
Jessica at EPIK e-press introduced me to Atlas, an American travel insurance company that sells insurance to both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens while already abroad. For the same trip that costed me nearly $100 USD with World Nomads, Atlas charges about $23 USD. While the reviews appear to be consistently good, the important part about travel insurance is how they respond to claims. It seems that with Atlas Insurance, the claims took months to come through, and a lot of paperwork. However, I’d personally rather go through this process than go without any coverage at all.
- Seven Corners Insurance
For about the same price as Atlas Travel Insurance, Seven Corners provides similar services. The reviews are also consistently good for this company, but again, this is based on people who have only purchased the insurance and not actually needed to use it. In the end, it seems most customers were able to get their claims, but it took months of paperwork and poor communication from Seven Corners to do so. I ended up going with Seven Corners as it was cheap, and had similarly inconsistent reviews to World Nomads and Atlas. It’s not ideal, but I’d rather at least have a claim to dispute than no ability to claim at all.
- Buy insurance at Incheon International Airport
There are a number of insurance providers located in Incheon International Airport, including Chartis, LIG Insurance, Meritz or Samsung Fire and Marine. Online forums reveal that these are some of the cheapest options available, but often require a decent command of Korean to access.
If you’re still debating if you should buy travel insurance, take a look at some of these reasonable rates. For as low as $15 USD, you can get two weeks or more covered through some of these options. It may seem unlikely that you’ll find yourself needing insurance, but it’s even more unlikely you’ll feel good about your decision to skip buying travel insurance in the event you need it.
Where do you buy travel insurance before a trip abroad?