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One of the last items on the pile of things to do before I go (30 days now – squeal!) was sort out travel insurance. For those who have not done any off-the-road travel before, it means making arrangements so that if you get sick or wounded, you will be able to get to (and afford a hospital) and that if something happens to your stuff, you will be able to get more stuff.  Usually, I use World Nomads for my general travel insurance, covering both of these items, but wanted to see if it was possible to save some money on travel insurance by fiddling with the terms of any existing medical or household insurance. Sure enough, you can.

Insuring yourself

For medical insurance while traveling, your medical aid provider may in fact have a facility for you to call and arrange medical insurance while you are abroad. After all, you are paying for cover, even though you will be away – so they should be providing something right? On this logic, I called my medical aid and sure as sore feet in the Simien mountains, they do in fact offer travel insurance as a part of their cover. I just needed to tell them when I would leave and return. No extra charges and I gain full medical cover.

Insuring your stuff

I asked them whether ‘out & about’ insurance would conceivably cover Sudan and Zambia

In the case of my gear, it was as simple as a call to my insurance provider – the people who make sure that losing my camera, laptop or other stuff when I am at home doesn’t bankrupt me. They (as do many others) offer what they call out & about insurance for when you leave the house and might have items stolen from your car (or you) on your travels. I asked them whether ‘out & about’ insurance would conceivably cover Sudan and Zambia (among other places), and was delighted to find out that it actually made no difference to them, as the out & about cover was worldwide. There were a few obvious disclaimers (like don’t leave your stuff in the open in the back seat of a car and so on), but I was able to essentially activate insurance for my gear abroad for no modification to something I was already paying for.

Also, a credit card

One last suggestion is to try and use your credit card to provide a degree of cover. When traveling to Mozambique last year, the fact that I had used my Mastercard to buy the initial tickets to Mozambique meant that giving them a call to ask for travel insurance resulted in them giving me basic cover for free, or even better cover for a small fee. Depending on what you need, it may or may not be enough for you – but there is no harm in asking, and you may just save yourself a bundle on a policy from a dedicated travel insurance provider you haven’t used before.

Depending on your travel scenario, these discoveries may not be useful to you, as you may not have any preexisting medical aid or insurance, and for the out & about insurance I had to still be plausibly resident in my home country. That said, if you have either medical or general insurance, then these are questions that you would do well to ask them before you depart, as you may be pleasantly surprised. Even though these services may not be widely advertised by your provider, they may well exist nonetheless if you just ask.

So ask. You may be surprised.