She was telling me how she used to be a travel agent and how she would sometimes make up to 200% commission on selling travel insurance to newbie travellers.
I was really shocked and even though I hadn't bought travel insurance from a travel agent I realised my new Scandinavian friend's former customers got really screwed (and not in the way they'd like).
So I decided to do some digging to see how much I could uncover about saving big bucks on my travel insurance.
What I discovered was kind of a shock.
Railay Beach, Thailand - A paradise only accessible by boat. Flickr Argenberg.
Yes there are a lot more things travel insurance can cover you for than just health care, but usually health care is the biggest expense and the only real thing most people are interested in.
So it might surprise or even shock you to know that high quality, free health insurance is available for travelers in certain countries. There are three options I will tell you about, the first is a very unknown reciprocal agreement between a certain group of countries worldwide, and the second is a more well known one available to all European Union citizens who travel to other E.U. countries. The third option is for everyone else.
Kovalam Beach, Kerala, India. Flickr Mehul.Antani
THE FIRST PROGRAM
If you are a citizen of any of the following countries, and travel to any of the countries on this list, you are fully covered for any medically necessary treatment that you need whilst you are in that country.
The countries include Australia, New Zealand, The United Kingdom, Ireland, Sweden, The Netherlands, Finland, Italy, Malta and Norway (the highest quality healthcare in the world is in Norway).
Nusa Dua Bali, Indonesia. Flickr BEST PHOTO
The reason for this is that healthcare is seen as a right, not a privilege in these countries and so it is offered free to their citizens and to the citizens of the countries they have reached an agreement with.
To receive this free healthcare, you need to provide your healthcare card and your passport when needing assistance. For further information, check out your government health insurance website or if you are Australian, simply click here.
That's a saving of potentially hundreds of dollars depending on how long / where your trip is. Do you see the photo of that beautiful paradise above - Bali in Indonesia? Imagine spending the money you saved on insurance in Europe/Australia on waking up to this paradise every morning instead? Beds in paradise start from as little as US$10 per night.
Outside Luong Son, Vietnam Flickr LostManProject.com
THE SECOND PROGRAM
If you are a member of any EU country, you are also entitled to free healthcare in any other EU country upon presentation of your EU healthcare card. For further information on how to get your EU healthcare card, click here.
OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE ELSE
Unfortunately there isn't free health insurance available for everyone else. But that doesn't mean you can't get a good deal on your health insurance when traveling. The absolute worst thing you could do is go for the travel insurance your travel agent is trying to push on to you (most people do this because it's a matter of convenience and have built a certain level of trust with that person, but don't realise they are paying double or triple what they need to be).
Nisyros - Evangelistria Monastery, Greece. Flickr vsitgreecegr
I wanted to mention that occasionally I send out a unique newsletter with my secret and unique money saving tips, great deals on flights, and special locations unknown to the average tourist (at bargain prices). You really can travel on a super small budget to exotic locations if you have all the information the travel companies don't want you to know about!
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