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China Travel Insurance — What Cover Should You Have?

Buddhism in China, Shaolin MonasteryAre you properly covered for your next trip?

Put simply, travel insurance helps protect you against any unforeseen emergencies on your China trip. In this article, we’ll be taking a brief look at the different types of travel insurance policies available as well as giving some handy advice to help travelers choose the most suitable cover for China. 

First, let’s discuss why travelers should purchase travel insurance.

Why Purchase China Travel Insurance?

China Travel EmergenciesTravel insurance helps you deal with the unexpected.

Whether traveling independently or as part of a group, taking out a travel insurance policy is always highly recommended. While China Highlights takes all precautions possible to provide you with a safe and secure experience of a lifetime in China, you can help us by insuring yourself against the unpredictable little things like severe weather shutting down airports or lost luggage.

China Highlights has been in the China travel industry for decades, so believe us when we say that things don’t always go as planned. It’s for this reason that we recommend carefully selecting the right travel insurance provider along with the right coverage, rather than just going with the cheapest policy. 

Changes of plans and unexpected frustrations are something that foreign travelers and expats will attest to being more common in China than back home — some would say twice as likely. Though China is a relatively safe place and increasingly developed every year, just being out of your familiar environment exposes you to increased risk of loss or harm.

Types of Travel Insurance

Choosing the right type of travel insurance is the most difficult part of buying travel insurance but, as with most things in life, doing it right from the beginning will save you headaches and unnecessary surprises in the long run. If you’re purchasing travel insurance for the first time, the number of different options might seem a bit much — but there’s no need to feel overwhelmed.

While there's certainly a range of different types of plans available on the market, we won’t focus on too many of them since they’re generally too specialized for travelers taking a simple vacation. For the typical traveler, travel insurance plans essentially boil down to two types: travel plans and medical plans.

Travel Plans

Airport travel"Travel plans" suit the majority of travelers' insurance needs.

Travel Plans are the most popular type of travel insurance among travelers, so much so that it’s safe to assume that when someone mentions travel insurance, they're talking about a travel plan. Travel plans go by many names including Package Plans, Vacation Plans and even Trip Insurance, yet the coverage they offer is basically the same regardless of the way they’re presented.

What makes travel plans so popular is the fact that they combine coverage for things like trip cancellations, lost baggage, medical emergencies and emergency evacuations into one affordable package. Their convenience and affordability are what attracts up to 94% of all travelers who purchase travel insurance. If you’re looking for simple, general coverage for your next vacation then chances are a travel plan is your best option.

Travel Medical Plans

Travel MedicalProtect yourself against unexpected medical expenses.

Travel Medical Plans are designed for travelers who aren’t concerned with trip cancellations and lost baggage but just want to cover any potential medical expenses, or those looking for extra medical coverage on top of their existing plan. As the name implies, medical plans focus exclusively on overseas medical emergencies and their related expenses.

Additionally, some medical plans even offer coverage for long-term overseas travel — an option which could potentially be more budget-friendly than a renewable or long-term travel plan if you’re planning to spend an extended period in the same place.

Specialty Plans

AcupunctureSpecialty plans cover non-emergency treatment.

Travel specialty plans provide travelers with specific coverage during their trip, filling the gap between what they already have and anything else they might need covered. 

Specialty plans may cover areas such as car rental, outdoor activities, medical care for pre-existing conditions, and other things which general travel insurance providers might not.

Choosing the Right Policy

baggageProtect your loved ones and your belongings by choosing the right travel insurance policy

By now, you should have an idea of what kind of travel insurance plan best suits your needs, but don’t just buy the first travel insurance policy you stumble across — otherwise you could just end up wasting your hard-earned cash! 

For the sake of the discussion, let’s assume that like the vast majority of insured travelers, you’ve decided on a travel plan. To further help you make an educated decision, we’ll be going into more detail on how to make sure you’re sufficiently covered for your trip by taking the three main areas of coverage into consideration.

Medical Coverage

medical treatmentUnexpected medical expenses can quickly add up.

For most travelers, medical coverage is the most important aspect of any travel insurance policy. We can’t stress the importance of choosing the right medical coverage enough. While many travel insurance policies may offer similar amounts of coverage, a seemingly small detail can make a world of difference — so it’s imperative that you double check what exactly is covered to avoid any unexpected surprises should you need to file a claim.

When it comes to the actual amount covered, it’s important to select a policy specific to the region you’ll be traveling in. Treatment that costs $50 in one part of the world could cost thousands in another, and there's seldom a “one size fits all” solution (even so called 'worldwide' policies may exclude certain places!). Do your research, choose a policy that provides sufficient medical cover and don't take your health or medical expenses for granted, you’ll thank yourself later.

A week in hospital in Guilin for an operation might cost 10,000 yuan as a ballpark figure, but expect to pay three times as much or more in major cities like Beijing, while Hong Kong may be even more expensive than your home country. Consider the price bands of China cities you intend to visit, as you weigh up what medical coverage you need.

Luggage and Personal Belongings

Credit CardA lost credit card can really put a damper on your vacation plans.

Lost or stolen luggage and personal belongings represent some of the most common claims travel insurance companies deal with on a daily basis — but getting compensated for lost belongings can prove to be quite challenging for even the most seasoned travelers.

Most travel insurance providers will cover a minimum of $1,500 and while this may seem sufficient, it’s important to read the fine print — as this is where things can get a bit tricky. For example, while the policy may cover up to $1,500 in lost luggage and personal belongings, the limit on individual item claims could be quite low; meaning if your $900 camera gets lost or stolen you might only be reimbursed $150! Find out exactly what for, how much, and in what circumstances you’ll be covered.


Beijing Capital International AirportDelays and cancellations can ruin a vacation.

We understand that having to cut short your well-deserved vacation or being forced to abandon it before you even set off isn’t ideal, and losing money as a result can be gut-wrenching. This is why we wholeheartedly recommend calculating the full cost of your trip (including any prepaid excursions) and choosing a policy with adequate coverage.

When going over cancellation coverage, make sure to confirm that the policy also includes the cost of getting back home should you need to make an unexpected return, and that it covers any new plans that need to be made in case of canceled or missed connections. 

Our cancellation policy is generous in keeping with our flexible tour design ethos, but last minute changes of plan could still leave you significantly out of pocket.

Other Considerations

Apart from the basics that we’ve just covered, there are a few other considerations worth keeping in mind when purchasing travel insurance. Things like who’s traveling, where you’re going, any planned sports or activities and whether you plan on multiple trips throughout the year should all play a part in policy selection.

Who’s Traveling?

Family TravelConsider who's traveling before taking out a particular insurance policy.

If you’re traveling alone, then an individual policy is likely your best bet, however if you’re traveling as a group or have special requirements, alternative policies might better suit your needs.

Families traveling together can take advantage of family policies, which provide family specific coverage and could even work out cheaper than individually insuring each family member.

Like family travel insurance policies, couple travel insurance and couple and child policies are usually cheaper than taking out individual policies for each traveler, as are group policies — which offer extended, group-specific coverage and pricing.

Last but certainly not least, senior citizens might benefit from certain specialty plans which offer things like extended medical coverage in lieu of areas they might not necessarily need covered.

Single or Multi-Trip Policy?

Backpacking through the countryThinking of backpacking across Asia? Then consider an extended or multi-trip policy.

If you’re planning several trips in a year, looking into annual or multi-trip policies will almost definitely save you a bit of money. 

A word of advice though, when browsing through multi-trip policies be sure to check the maximum duration per trip and the destinations covered, since most policies limit the number of days covered in any given trip, as well as the countries covered.

Where Will You Be Visiting?

Remember how earlier on we mentioned the different prices of medical treatments? The cost of medical treatment in different parts of China is one of the many things that influence travel insurance policy pricing, so ensure you’ll be covered at your chosen destination.

This is especially important when planning multi-destination trips or taking out an annual policy. The last thing you’d want is to end up needing emergency medical treatment, only to find out that the policy you thought was such a bargain doesn’t apply to the area you’re in! The risk of altitude sickness in Tibet and premiums for remote areas, where medical evacuation costs are higher, should be given special consideration.

Feeling Adventurous?

White Water Rafting in ChengduMost general travel plans don't cover extreme sports.

Not every travel insurance policy covers things like skiing, SCUBA diving, and mountain biking. Thankfully, more insurance providers are adding “adventure sports” clauses to their policies which cover such activities, along with some less obvious ones like horse riding and motorcycling. Some will even insure your gear! 

If you’re planning on taking part in any activities throughout your trip, make sure you’re covered or purchase an additional specialty plan along with your chosen travel plan.

World Nomads Travel Insurance

If you’re looking for an affordable, yet comprehensive travel insurance solution, we highly recommend World Nomads. Here are just a few of the reasons why World Nomads is an extremely popular and our most recommended online travel insurance agent:

  • Trusted Insurance Providers
    World Nomads is backed by a suite of strong, secure, and well-known specialist travel insurance companies providing exceptional cover, 24/7 emergency assistance, impeccable customer support and superb claims management.
  • Value for Money
    By focusing on what travelers need and leaving out what they don't, World Nomads is able to offer some of the most competitive prices online.
  • Flexible
    Travelers can extend, claim online, or even purchase an insurance policy while traveling.
  • Adventure Activities Coverage
  • World Nomads gives travelers the peace of mind they need to get the most out of their travel experience.
  • Committed to Safety
    All World Nomads members have access to online, up-to-date travel safety alerts and safety advice through their Travel Safety Hub.
  • More Than Just Great Value Travel Insurance
    World Nomads members can learn the local language through dedicated language guides and keep in touch with loved ones through their own online travel journal.
  • Exceptional Customer Service
    World Nomads gives travelers a variety of contact options if they have any questions regarding their policies or general travel safety. See more on WorldNomads.com.

Note: If you are over 65 years of age, we recommend considering InsureMyTrip (US & Canada) or Globelink (rest of the world) as an alternative.

China Trips with Increased Enjoyment and Reduced Risks

Your trip to China should only ever be all that you want it to be. We can tailor-make a China tour for you from scratch, doing the things you want in a way that suits you. Our tour design experts and guides will steer you clear of the risks.

Itineraries for Inspiration

a must-see city in your first china trip: Guilin LongjiVisit more exotic locations with fewer worries with us, like the ethnic minority villages in Guilin.

Our tours can be customized according to your interests and requirements. Our consultancy and tour design service are well worth taking advantage of.

  • The Golden Triangle (8 days): Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai
    — the most popular destinations for a first trip
  • Classic Wonders (11 days): Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, and Shanghai
    — classic architecture, culture, and scenery
  • Visit our China tours for 2019 for more tour inspirations.

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