Depending on how often you travel for volunteer work, you may purchase a single-trip travel insurance plan or an annual plan for multiple trips throughout the year. Whether you’re traveling for a short volunteer trip or on multiple trips all year long, a travel insurance policy can protect you from unforeseen events that could cost you a significant amount of money.
What are the risks of volunteer travel?
- The truck you are traveling in plunges into a deep hole in the road and you suffer a broken hip – volunteer workers often travel to areas that are remote and don’t have a lot of public services, so it’s important to ensure that if you are injured, you can be evacuated to where you can get medical attention.
- You are working in the tropics and contract Yellow fever and need medical care – when you need medical care, time is of the essence. The quicker you recover, the quicker you can return to your important work.
- Working on a well in Haiti, you get word that your son back home is ill – when you have to abandon your trip for a covered reason like the illness or injury of someone close to you, will you have the help you need to schedule an emergency flight home and the funds to pay for it?
- You’ve purchased your plane tickets, updated your passport, and got your shots, but the volunteer trip is cancelled due to government travel restrictions – even volunteer travel can be cancelled due to events beyond your control. Can you afford to lose all the money you spent or would you rather get a refund and save it for a later volunteer trip?
- You arrive safely with your volunteer group, but several bags are missing – when you’re in a foreign country and your bags are lost, will you have the cash on hand to replace those items?
- You know the area you are visiting is dangerous and you want to be sure your family is spared the expense and complications of returning your body home – because volunteers sometimes travel to some of the most dangerous and remote areas of the globe, they are also at greater risk and need repatriation coverage.
What coverage do you need as a volunteer traveler?
While the following is not an exhaustive list of all the coverages available with travel insurance plans, it describes those that are most useful to volunteer travelers.
- Evacuation coverage provides the coordination of and payment for medically necessary evacuations. (Review the details of evacuation coverage.)
- Medical expense coverage provides the information and the funds necessary to secure your medical treatment at a local medical facility. (Review the details of medical coverage.)
- Trip interruption coverage provides the funds to help you return home. It also provides funds to return to your volunteer work within the itinerary dates when the danger has passed. (Review the details of trip interruption coverage.)
- Trip cancellation coverage provides reimbursement for your pre-paid non refundable trip costs when your trip is cancelled for a covered reason. (Review the details of trip cancellation coverage.)
- Baggage coverage provides a certain amount of reimbursement for lost, stolen or destroyed luggage. (Review the details of baggage coverage.)
- Baggage delay coverage provides a certain amount of reimbursement, allowing you to purchase necessary clothing and personal items until your bag can be located and returned to you. (Review the details of baggage delay coverage.)
- Accidental death and dismemberment (AD&D) coverage provides a lump sum payment to you or to your family if you are disabled or die on your volunteer trip. (Review the details of AD&D coverage.)
- Repatriation coverage ensures that your family won’t have to pay the funds or work the government and transportation system to get your body returned home for burial if you die on your trip. (Review the details of repatriation coverage.)
- Travel assistance services ensures that you have someone who can help you navigate tricky travel emergencies like cancelled flights, locating a hospital, replacing a stolen passport. (Review the details of travel assistance services.)
When should you buy your volunteer travel insurance?
Purchase your policy just after making your first trip payment. In some situations, this timing is important because some benefits:
- pre-existing medical condition waivers,
- ‘cancel for any reason’, and
- ‘cancel for work reasons’
are only applicable if the policy is purchased within a certain number of days (usually 10-15) from making your initial trip deposit. Plus, you’ll benefit from the longest period of cancellation coverage.
Remember that all travel insurance companies offer a free look period with a refund if you decide the plan is not what you need.
Where should you buy your travel insurance?
We recommend purchasing your travel insurance directly from a third-party company for a number of reasons.
- Buying Travel Insurance from a 3rd party company vs. through a travel agent
- Buying Travel Insurance Directly from the Company vs. Using a Comparison Site
Very briefly, you’ll have more choices and options in your travel insurance plan if you purchase from a third-party company using a comparison tool.
How can you be sure your volunteer travel insurance coverage is adequate?
These tips will help you determine whether you have enough coverage.
- Don’t base your purchase on price alone
- 4 Steps to 100% confidence in your travel insurance plan
- Entering $0 Trip Cost is too risky
- Is ‘Cancel for any reason’ worth it?
Also check out the Essential Volunteer Trip Packing List for more information to support your volunteer trip. Thanks for all you’re doing – and be safe!