Travelling–it’s one of the greatest joys in life. But, amongst all the amazing adventures and life changing experiences, there can be hiccups along the way. Most of the time these are small; arguments with a friend or getting lost for a few hours in a big city. But then there are those times when something really bad happens, something that makes you want to throw in the towel and jump on the first plane back home.

These kinds of things happen more than you might think. Just from my own travel experience, I’ve seen broken bones, stolen bags, lost wallets and one particularly bad case of relentless diarrhea (in an apartment with ten people and a single toilet, might I add).

All of this amounts to one major lesson I’ve learnt about planning for overseas travel: travel insurance is an absolute must. When my travel agent first brought it up, I thought it was some kind of scam to squeeze more money out of my already suffering wallet. If it hadn’t been discounted, I probably would have bypassed it altogether. But, and I cannot stress this more:

That would have been a huge mistake.

The following are some of the most common predicaments you could find yourself in during your travels, all of which I, or someone I know, have experienced first hand (I told you it was common). So, for your amusement education, here are the numerous reasons why you need to invest in travel insurance.

1. Sickness and Injury

While I was backpacking through Thailand, a tuk tuk carrying a group of about six people ran over my foot. That night my foot had swelled up to twice the size, so my friend had to drive me by scooter to the local hospital. After a few communication issues, the doctors x-rayed my foot and told me I had fractured it. I had to wear a moon boot for the last two weeks of my trip.

– Nic, 20

You never really expect to get injured overseas, but if you managed to hurt yourself that time you leant too far back on your chair at school, you can most definitely get hurt during your travels. Sickness also isn’t as rare as you might think, particularly if you’re travelling somewhere a little more exotic. Your body just isn’t used to the particular strains of viruses you might come across overseas, so being covered for this is an absolute must. Otherwise, your medical bills could be astronomical.

What you need to know:

  • Most travel insurance policies will have some form of medical cover; however, you need to be wary of how extensive this is:
    • Skiing, snowboarding many extreme sports are generally not covered on basic policies, and will need to be added as an extra if you’re going on a high-action holiday.
    • Pre-existing medical conditions may also need to be approved before you can make any claim–check the fine print if you think you could be affected by a pre-existing condition during your travels.
  • Make sure you keep all of your medical bills and documents, because you’re going to need these to make a claim.
  • Oh, and if you’re smashed when you injure yourself, you probably wont be covered… So be careful while you’re on the piss!

2. Lost property 

I somehow managed to lose my wallet containing my cards and load of cash during a trip to Prague castle with some friends. I’d been keeping the wallet in a small backpack, which I kept strapped to me the entire day so I have no idea how the wallet went missing. I was a wreck that day–it was a nightmare getting my cards frozen!

– Lucy, 21

Lost items is a tricky one on most travel policies, which sucks considering how much we tend to lose while we’re travelling. Most of the time, these things are small. But what do you do when you misplace your phone, wallet or passport? The moment you realise that the one thing you desperately need to travel with isn’t there anymore can be sickening, but if you’ve prepared for a scenario like this, the effects shouldn’t be too catastrophic.

What you need to know:

  • Preparation is key: make a checklist of things you absolutely need to have each time you pack your bags. Take photos of your passport in case you misplace the original. Make sure you have a second bankcard or travel card kept separately from the first, in case one of them is lost or stolen. If you think about these things in advance, then you’ll be ready if you ever do lose something important.
  • Making a claim on lost items can be dicey–if the item was lost due to your own negligence, then you probably wont be able to claim. In other words don’t leave anything behind at the hostel!
  • If you were not with the item at the time it was lost (for example, if your friend was minding it for you) you also may not be able to make claim.
  • If you would like to try and claim a lost item, make sure you file a lost property report at the local police station as proof for your travel insurance provider.

3. Baggage problems

We were trying to check our bags in at an airport in Paris when we were told that the baggage belt was broken. An airport worker told us to leave the bags next to the desk for the time being and just board the plane to Ibiza, but when we arrived, the bags didn’t turn up. We had to register to get them back and keep calling the Ibiza airport to see if they had arrived–which ended up being about 48 hours later. Then we had to go all the way back to the airport to collect them.

– Matt, 21

Having your luggage lost or misplaced during a flight is one of the most frustrating things that can happen on your trip, especially because it’s almost never your own fault. The upside to this is that your travel insurance will usually cover any costs that your incur if your luggage is lost by an airline–just make sure you’re covered for this one in your policy.

What you need to know:

  • As soon as you notice your luggage is missing, notify an airline worker and file a lost baggage report–you’re going to need this if you want to make a claim later.
  • You should also be able to make a claim if you need to spend a bit of cashola in the process of getting your luggage back to you.
  • In some policies, if your baggage has been lost for a certain amount of time, all the necessary purchases you make replacing your items before the bags are returned to you can be claimed. Things like toothbrushes, clothing and the like (just no expensive shoes, mmkay?)
  • If your bags are never returned to you, then you can most definitely make a claim–just check your policy to find out how much money you will be able to get back, as the maximum varies between different covers.

4. Stolen money and goods 

My best friend had about a $1,000 in US cash in the top of her backpack that got stolen during a flight between Rome and Budapest. She’d last seen the bag when she put it on the conveyer belt in Rome, and then picked it up again at baggage claim in Budapest, which meant that it must have been one of the airport workers who took the money. We had to wait at the airport for hours while she filed a report and talked to the police… She got the money back through insurance, but we never heard back from the police as to who took the cash.

– Jacob, 23

Unfortunately, having something stolen can be a pretty regular occurrence when travelling. In many countries outside of Australia, theft is much more common, so you constantly need to be aware of where your possessions are at all times. This is something most people aren’t used to doing, which is why pickpockets love targeting tourists. And if they manage to steal something particularly valuable, the cost of replacing it could really put a dent in your travel funds.

What you need to know:

  • Each insurance policy differs in the types of items it will cover if stolen. If you’re planning on travelling with more pricey devices like a laptop or iPad, you may need to add this as an extra.
  • To make a claim on a stolen item, make sure you file a police report within 24 hours of the incident. It’s good practice to do this anyway, considering there’s a chance of catching the thief and getting your stuff back, so don’t let the language barrier put you off.
  • Keep or take photos of the receipts of any items you would claim for if they were ever to be stolen. I know it seems like a hassle, but it will speed up the claim process immensely!
  • If you no longer have the receipts from purchase, simply take some photos of the items (with the serial number showing, if possible) to prove that you own them in case of emergency.

No excuses now, guys! Make sure yo’ ass is covered and get the travel insurance you need, just in case your trip does take a turn for the worst!