Cycle Touring Travel Insurance

It’s now only 3 weeks until I fly out to Canada for the start of the Great Divide ride and once again I’ve still got plenty to organise.

I have my flight booked, somewhere to stay when I arrive, my bike is repaired and ready to ride and I know the route I’ll be cycling.

But there’s plenty more to sort out…

Like any holiday, I’ll be needing to get travel insurance. Negotiating the myriad of insurance companies and trawling their terms and conditions to find one company that will cover a long cycle-touring trip is always a chore. Generally, travel insurers aren’t keen on cycle tourers and often won’t provide cover, or only on an incidental basis, or they add on a massive charge as they consider cycle touring a high risk sport. Forget trying to get your bike insured (it’s easier to add it to your home insurance). Just stick to the essential accident and medical cover.

There are plenty of long-term cycle tourers who don’t bother with insurance – Of 25 asked by the Travelling Two, a third don’t.

I used American Express for my 2-year Africa tour. It was the only company that would provide cover for 2-years cycling in Africa. I checked out at least 20 other companies. Fortunately I never had to make a claim. Was it a waste of money? Chances are, in many of the regions I was travelling through, if I had got seriously ill or had an accident, there would have been no fast rescue service. Had I needed to go to hospital, treatment would have been relatively cheap and probably I could have covered the costs myself. I probably would have tried to avoid hospital anyway. I carried a comprehensive first-aid kit and may well have been better equipped than some of the local hospitals. Having the insurance did give me peace of mind however. It was there if I needed it. But if I was doing the same trip again, I probably wouldn’t bother.

But that was Africa. And this next trip is to the States. Medical care in the US is excellent. But excellence comes at a price. This is one country where I would definitely get travel insurance for. And just to prove my point… the last time I went to the US, I spent a couple of days mountain-biking and fell off. Fell off, over the handlebars, face-planting onto the trail with bike flying off into a nearby bush. I hurt my leg and my friends had to call the emergency services. Six hours later, having been stretchered off the trail and I arrived at the hospital, high on strong painkillers. The bill, which came to a few thousand dollars, was paid for by my insurers (STA Travel).

So the search for insurance continues… at the moment I’m heading towards World Wide Insure, but I need to read the small print first.

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