Travel insurance is often one of those red-tape items that no-one wants to organise or pay for. But is it really necessary?
Absolutely. It’s like having house insurance or a pre-nup – no-one expects their house to burn down or to get divorced, but if the worst happens, you’ll be so glad to have that piece of paper!
A quick scan of the newspaper or crowdfunding sites like Givealittle or GoFundMe reveal countless stories of heartache and financial hardship because someone didn’t have travel insurance. If you get sick, injured or (worst case scenario) die while overseas, it can cost tens of thousands of dollars to treat you or bring your body home for burial.
It is simply not worth the risk – especially when travelling to a developing country where the healthcare system may not be well resourced. That’s why travel insurance is compulsory on all Volunteer Build trips. It’ll be the guardian angel sitting on your shoulder.
So what do you need to consider when organising travel insurance for a volunteer trip?
- Get the right coverage & read the fine print
Does your policy cover you for your destination and activities? On Volunteer Build trips, your insurance must include coverage while building in a volunteer capacity. Not all travel insurance providers include this, so look at the fine print if you’re comparing policies and watch out for any relevant exclusions. It’s also smart to check whether you’re covered for your particular destination as some insurance companies won’t provide cover for countries deemed ‘high’ or ‘extreme risk’ (www.safetravel.govt.nz) or for places that may have a pandemic. Check your policy wording to see what happens if the New Zealand Government raises the risk warning level, and under what circumstances you can cancel your trip and receive a refund. If you plan on riding a motorcycle, hiring a car, white water rafting or trekking in the Himalayas for example, make sure you will be covered for those activities – and if not, don’t do them.
- Insure early
Take out travel insurance as soon as you pay any trip deposits so you’re covered if you need to cancel. Some policies (like the one Volunteer Build offers), allow you to purchase a ‘Cancel for Any Reason’ extension which can give you greater flexibility to cancel your trip beyond what the normal policy wording would cover, and still receive up to 75% of your costs back. This can be useful if you have elderly parents or grandparents who are fine when you book your trip, but something happens to them 48 hours or more before your departure.
Your premium will depend on your age bracket and what (if any) pre-existing medical conditions you have. Often policies will allow you to take up to two related children (under the age of 21) on your policy for no extra charge. Again, read the fine print as the trip cancellation cost or luggage allowance could be shared between two or three of you. It’s best to make sure you have got enough coverage for everything you may need.
- Honesty is the best policy
ALWAYS declare your pre-existing medical conditions on insurance forms. Even if you don’t think it’s relevant, declare it anyway. Insurance companies will turn down your claim if they discover you’ve lied or withheld information. If you’re hit by a scooter and break your arm – but you failed to tell them you have high blood pressure – your claim could well be turned down and you’re left to face some hefty medical bills for treatment.
- Gold card insurance
Many gold and platinum level credit cards automatically provide travel insurance if you use the card to pay your airfares and other travel costs. Check with your bank to see what the minimum purchase amount is to activate your cover and again read the fine print. Often building, aid and other manual work is excluded from these types of policies so it’s important to check what coverage is provided.
What coverage does Volunteer Build offer?
The good news is we have negotiated a special Volunteer Build Covermore travel insurance policy that covers volunteer builders on our trips.
The underwriters have undertaken an extensive review of our trips and the activities that you will be involved in so are well placed to insure our volunteers. The policy has a ‘cancel for any reason’ option available for purchase which you can activate up to 48 hours prior to departure (provided you have purchased that cover within 48 hours of making your first trip deposit).
To apply for travel insurance for your Volunteer Build trip, just download an application form at https://www.volunteerbuild.com/insurance/ and we’ll take it from there.