How to Get Travel Insurance When You’re Already Overseas (and how I found out the hard way)

Whoever took my camera that day, hats off to them; they were good. I never felt a thing… one minute I was snapping photos from the Chao Praya Express boat, but the next (as I was wanting to take a pic from the Skytrain window) I found myself reaching into an empty pocket.

My camera was stolen shortly after photographing this temple (Wat Arun), and my travel insurance didn't pay out

The last thing I’d photographed with that camera: Wat Arun, from the Chao Praya river (this pic taken with another camera on another visit)

To be honest, I’d made a schoolboy error; I usually put my camera in a button-up or zip pocket, but when transferring to the Skytrain that day I’d just lazily slipped it into the side pocket of my shorts.

I don’t mean to single Bangkok or Thailand out here; in all the time I’ve spent there that’s the only petty crime I’ve personally experienced (though I’ve witnessed a few late night beatings on Khao San Road). It’s just good practice to take close care of your stuff when you’re travelling, especially in the big cities; I’d say lesson learned, but really I already knew. I just got sloppy, and paid for it.

And in fact, pay for it I did. I bought a new camera up in Chiang Mai a few days later, but I never got the insurance payout – the real lesson I learned from that experience was to be more careful when buying travel insurance and pay more attention to the small print and check boxes.

Problem was, the travel insurance I’d left home with had run out, and I didn’t extend it because I no longer needed winter sports insurance but their inflexible system wouldn’t allow me to extend without continuing to include it.

So instead, I’d just bought a fresh new policy – and apparently when doing so I’d checked a box saying I was still in the UK at time of purchase (I was actually in Japan). This meant the policy was void from the start, and the time and effort I spent traipsing to the Chiang Mai police station (while coming down with some sort of tropical illness) was wasted; worse than that, it meant I travelled from Japan to Taiwan to the Philippines and then around Southeast Asia for months without any insurance cover.

Fortunately, the only thing I ended up needing to claim for was a low-end compact digital camera (people always say the worst thing is losing the photos, but thankfully I’d loaded mine onto my hard drive the night before so I only lost that day’s pics of Wat Arun and the Chao Praya river)… but what if I’d been in a tuk tuk pile-up, or smashed myself in the river while tubing in Vang Vieng, or that illness had turned out to be malaria?

The insurance company would’ve left me up shit creek without a paddle, that’s what would’ve happened. My fault of course, for checking the box; but I realised then that I needed to find a way to get insurance while already overseas that would suit my preferred flexible style of travel.

Well, pretty much as soon as I asked the question, I found the answer. And if you’ve landed here by asking the same question, the answer is World Nomads. They’ll sell you a policy wherever you are, their website is nice and easy to use, and their customer service was excellent on the one occasion I needed it. Since losing that camera in Bangkok, every travel insurance policy I’ve bought has been from World Nomads. Don’t learn the same pricey lesson I did – if you need flexible insurance on the go, they can provide it. Get a quote:

(Yes, this is a bit of a sales pitch – the above links to World Nomads are affiliate links, meaning that if you visit them via my links and make a purchase, 4corners7seas will receive a commission from World Nomads (this comes out of their profit margin at no extra cost to you). But I’m not linking to them just because I can get commissions; I’m linking to them because I use them, they’re awesome, and they answered my question about how to buy travel insurance when you’re already travelling – if that also answers your question, and I’ve helped you to find them, please consider using my links. I thank you in advance should you choose to do so!)

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Also check out my Thailand overland travel guide

2 comments on “How to Get Travel Insurance When You’re Already Overseas (and how I found out the hard way)
  1. Wandering says:

    The problem is that Thailand is a hub for all sorts of people – business travelers, tourists, as well as other people who are there to engage in less honourable activities.

    Tourists who come to Thailand that are wary of being pickpocketed are usually wary of Thai people, assuming that it’s the local looking Thai people who will steal from them. However, they’re less aware that it’s more likely they’re going to be pickpocketed from other foreigners. It’s a known epidemic in Thailand to watch out for Vietnamese, Cambodian and Nepalese gangs who hang out around touristic places like the Grand Palace and Siam Paragon with the intention of stealing from tourists.

    This is not to put the blame on foreigners, but the fact is even Thais themselves feel unsafe in such areas.

    • Simon Norton says:

      Hi, yeah the vast, vast majority of Thai people are honest and would never steal. I was just caught out in a careless moment that day – but actually the main point I wanted to make in this post was about how to get travel insurance when you’re already overseas, not to criticise Thailand in any way. That just happens to be where it happened, but could’ve happened anywhere really – to be honest I’m more wary of my pockets in London than I am in Bangkok!

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