When to buy it? When to skip it? When to up your coverage because of a certain global pandemic? Chelsea Bengier dives into the topsy-turvy (and increasingly tricky) world of travel insurance.

When I decided to take a sabbatical year to travel, I was picturing a different mountain than the one before me. I dreamed of trekking up the jagged peaks of the Andes—not sifting through the pile of paperwork on my desk after weeks of travel insurance research.

Since international travel has softly resumed throughout the pandemic, many places are requiring tourists to have travel insurance. And while some countries (such as Belize) make you buy their own type of insurance before or upon entry, other nations might accept your pre-existing plan. But with entry requirements rapidly changing, the process can be difficult to navigate. 

Long story short: travel insurance is trickier than ever.

To my surprise, I discovered that, personally, my American health insurance doesn’t cover you when you’re abroad, which left me scrambling to compare plans and find the coverage that fits for me. It was even more challenging when I realized there are hundreds of various providers, plans and pesky exclusions in the fine print. Even those who have publicly-funded healthcare normally don’t have access to those same healthcare benefits while traveling out of their home country. Those who live in the UK and are normally covered by the National Health Service aren’t covered while traveling abroad (except for special cases, when you may be able to access NHS-funded healthcare in the EU, Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein or Switzerland, but that’s another story).

Because of the puzzle that is healthcare coverage (regardless of where you live), I knew how essential it was to get travel-specific coverage. To help break down the perks and pains of travel insurance, I consulted a handful of experts. Here’s what they had to say.