Nature Travel Specialists
nature, wildife, adventure and general travel to Australia, Southeast Asia and South America

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Travel Insurance



We highly recommend travel insurance, as many of the costs involved in travel are not recoverable once deposited or paid for. To bring you the best prices many air tickets are non-refundable, and although within the US such tickets can often be converted for a (usually substantial) fee, this may not be the case overseas, or the converted tickets not useful as they must be used in the overseas country. Many health insurers do not cover out-of-country costs, and where they do, transfers to medical facilities, especially of an evacuation nature, may not covered and can be expensive. Interruptions to travel once underway can result in expenses for accommodation, meals and to catch up with the tour if necessary. Such interruptions may be caused by something as simple as a doctor's visit preventing you catching a required air flight. In this case any additional expenses will be at your cost, and the lost services will not be recoverable.

In addition to normal travel insurance Medical Evacuation Insurance is also available. While normal insurance gets you to the nearest facility, and may cover certain evacuation scenarios from there, medical evacuation insurance allows you to choose to go to the hospital of your choice, rather than the nearest suitable facility, back in the US, if you cannot use commercial airline flights without medical assistance. Annual coverage in this program covers you anywhere, including within the US, for evacuation to your hospital if more than 150 miles from home, including within the US or even your home state (if it's large enough). Moreover, this is available for one annual fee, regardless of the number of trips you take. For more information on medical evacuation insurance, click here.

What does travel insurance cover?

There are two major forms of travel insurance - complete coverage including trip cancellation prior to departure and trip interruption during travel, and medical coverage during the trip only. Both forms include baggage loss protection. The latter is considerably cheaper than the former, but only covers the less often used medical claims. However, all travelers should be covered for medical problems, emergencies and evacuations while traveling and this is the minimum level which should be taken. Most substantial claims involve cancellation, delay or interruption of travel plans due to unforeseen circumstances. Such circumstances include injury or illness to a traveler, companion or immediate family; jury duty; house damage; car accident or delay on the way to the airport, etc. A common covered problem is a missed connection due to a flight delay, and the need to catch up with the tour or travel arrangements, with attendant expenses. Bankruptcy of travel suppliers may also be included (this provision does not apply to your primary supplier, but rather to the ground opertors, cruise lines, airlines, etc providing the actual operations), as may be terrorist incidents at home or abroad. Coverage for business related interruptions, such a being required to work during the trip dates, military re-assignment or leave revocation, various damage to a business locations and similar problems is available, usualy for an added fee. This is very a useful addition to coverage. Cancel For Any Reason is also available, but dos not cover your entire exposure and is expensive.

Most travel insurance does not cover risky activities such as sky diving, bungee jumping, hang gliding etc. Often scuba diving is not covered, but the Travelex policies we recommend do cover diving provided you have an open water certificate (such as PADI or NAUI), are accompanied by a divemaster (dive tours and day trips that we book are), and do not dive deeper than 130ft.

In addition to actual insurance, most insurers have emergency assistance services which will assist you if your passport and other travel documents are lost or stolen. They can also provide the names and addresses of English-speaking medical and legal help in foreign countries.

Some parts of your travel may be recoverable without insurance, such as fully-refundable business class air fares (but note not all business class upgrades may be fully recoverable), first class air travel or optional tours. Your amount covered can exclude these amounts to lessen the rate.

We strongly suggest you fully acquaint yourself with what travel insurance covers, and doesn't, and decide whether such coverage is appropriate for you. We are happy to talk to you about this, as there are often details not obvious on initial reading of different companies' offerings. We assure you there'll be no pressure to purchase, just useful information.


Travel Insurance and Acts of God

Please be aware that tsunamis and similar events are considered Acts of God (Force Majeure) and are not generally convered under travel insurance. Some policies, such as the Travelex ones below, will cover up to the limit of trip interruption coverage for accommodation, etc, but this does not cover returning to your home (although Travelex usually will, in fact assist travelers under these circumstances, outside the terms of the insurance agreement, as it did with the 2004 Tsunami), or cancelling the trip due to damamge at the destination.


Who do I buy insurance from?

There are several well-known, national travel insurers, and others available through credit card companies, car organizations, and others. Any of these can be selected to cover your trip with us. Please review their coverage carefully, as it can vary considerably, as can the cost. As a guideline, our recommeded insurer, Travelex, offers complete coverage on a $4500 vacation for a traveler under 60 years of age for less than $200.

You will often read that you should not buy travel insurance from your travel supplier. By this travel writers mean insurance underwritten by the company supplying the travel, not third party insurance offered through a travel agency by independent insurance companies. If the insurance is underwritten by a tour company, and it goes bust, so does your insurance. If you insure through a third party, your insurance is still in place (although you should make sure that the insurance is paid for, by receiving a confirmation from the insurer). Even where the brochure comes in the name of the travel company, the actual insurance may be offered by a third party. Look on the brochure for a phone number or address different to the travel company's one, and for information on the underwriter.

Does Nature Travel Specialists recommend anyone?

Our recommended insurer, Travelex, is a major, independent third party insurer, who we have worked with and who we consider offer excellent coverage at a very competitive price. One of our favorite aspects of their coverage is their family travel insurance - children under 16 traveling with a covered adult are covered as well, without taking out their own coverage, a considerable saving. To find out more about Travelex's coverage and prices, please click on the Travelex logo on the left or top of the screen, or click here. Travelex Travel Insurance brochures for Travelex Basic, Travelex Select, and Travelex Max can be downloaded by clicking on their respective names. Most of our clients choose Travelex Select. If you have a family SelectAdvantage is a good option as children are included in the coverage at no extra cost, and there are additional family-oriented benefits.

Our recommended Evacuation Insurer, MedjetAssist, is endorsed by the Medical Society of Virginia, the Southern Medical Association, the American College of Radiology, the American Academy of Dermatology and a number of leading travel organizations. The annual subscription is just $250, $385 for families (all costs subject to change), and both per-trip and grandchildren rates are available. There is also a substantial discount if you are a member of AARP. To find out more about MedjetAssist's coverage and prices, please click on the Medjet logo on the left or top of this page, or click here. A MedjetAssist enrollment form can be downloaded here.

We strongly advise you to call us toll-free - 1 877 285 1170 - to discuss travel and evacuation insurance more fully, as choosing the correct coverage is more complicated than it appears. In our experience most people pay more than necessary, and have more coverage, than is necessary.