Accident Insurance 101: What It Is and Why You Need It – GearJunkie

These three brands are there to support you when disaster or injury strikes. Learn the ins and outs of accident insurance here.
If you have a full-time or even a contract job, you probably have health insurance. But, that usually doesn’t cover everything. And if you find yourself traveling, mountain biking, mountaineering, adventure racing, climbing, and camping as often as we do, you should know all your options.
So, what is accident insurance, and why do you need it?
Accident insurance, also known as injury insurance or travel insurance (no, we’re not talking about insuring your baggage), is the awesome solution for keeping yourself safe through any and almost all activities when an accident does happen — no matter how risky or remote.
Accident insurance differs from standard health insurance in that it’s made to cover medical expenses when you get injured (in other words, not pre-existing conditions). Even if you have health insurance, you can use the money from a claim through your accident insurance to cover things like copays and deductibles.
Oftentimes, accident insurance covers more than what health insurance would, and it can help offset medical bills. If you have an active lifestyle, travel often, or participate in sports, accident insurance is definitely a supplement worth looking into.
The services and fine print differ for each company, but they all offer the following:
Here are the top three accident insurance companies out there.
Co-founded in 2017 by Matt Randall and Maria Goy, Spot currently insures tens of thousands of customers, from pro athletes to first-time outdoor enthusiasts.
And new this spring, Spot now offers customized “on-the-bike” injury insurance coverage through a partnership with USA Cycling. Cyclists who are members or racing in any USAC-sanctioned event can now sign up for Spot for just $40/year.
Cost: $25/mo.
Coverage lengths available: Monthly, annually
Coverage Cap: $20,000
What it covers: Spot is an “on-demand” accident insurance company that covers everything from hospital stays, broken bones, and more.
What it doesn’t (notable exclusions): It doesn’t cover general illness or pre-existing conditions; this insurance focuses on accidents sustained while traveling or engaging in an outdoor activity, whether you are a weekend warrior or a pro athlete. You can find a list of excluded activities on their site.
Who can get it: Anyone age 18-69 in 45 states (remaining states to be added this year)
Buddy insurance was founded in 2018, mainly because its founders got tired of seeing friends’ GoFundMe campaigns when they got hurt mountain biking, skiing, or climbing.
“Even with health insurance, unexpected injuries can result in paying thousands of dollars out-of-pocket. So we created the first-ever on-demand accident insurance,” said Charles Merritt, CEO and co-founder of Buddy.
Basically, Buddy exists so you can do what you love, and worry less about medical bills.
Cost: Average cost is $9/day or $45-50/mo. (varies by state)
Coverage lengths available: Daily, weekly, monthly, and annually
Coverage Cap: $50,000
What it covers: Urgent care visits, emergency room treatment, office visits, hospital stay (up to 10 days), physical therapy, medications, surgery, treatment for traumatic brain injuries, coverage for loss of life, and more. Activities covered include backpacking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling and mountain biking, skiing, snowboarding, and more.
What it doesn’t (exclusions worth noting): BASE jumping, bull riding, cave diving, cliff jumping, freestyle motocross, free diving, climbing and mountaineering without appropriate use of ropes and equipment, highlining, running of the bulls, skydiving, street luging, tow-in surfing, and wingsuiting. Buddy also doesn’t cover your participation in any activity “in which the insured person has professional status.”
Basically, Buddy accident insurance covers sports and activities that are risky, but not unsafe or dangerous. Always check with your policy to see what’s covered.
Who can get it: Any U.S. resident up to 69 years old, available in 43 states and the District of Columbia
Founded in 2002, World Nomads has been protecting and covering thousands of travelers around the world for over a decade.
This company is the only one on our list that provides coverage to U.S. residents and those who permanently live in other countries abroad. This accident insurance company also offers the highest coverage cap of the three on our list.
Cost: From $2/day to $50-100/mo. (cost varies based on destination, length of plan, and number of people on policy)
Coverage lengths available: Daily, weekly, monthly, and annually
Coverage Cap: Up to $100,000 for emergency expenses (plus additional coverage limits for other expenses)
What it covers: emergency accident and medical expenses, hospital stays, emergency evacuation, emergency transportation, loss of life (death overseas), even trip cancellation or delay, and more. Activities covered include camping, hiking, mountaineering, scrambling, trekking (up to 19,685 feet); backpacking, bikepacking, scuba diving, surfing, skiing, ziplining, outdoor endurance, marathons, triathlons (less than ultra distance), and more. 
What it doesn’t (notable exclusions): Heli-skiing, free diving, skydiving, free soloing, etc., aren’t covered under the standard plan, but World Nomads does have extended plan options (see the site for more info).
Who can get it: U.S. residents (in all 50 states) up to age 69. Policies are also available for residents of the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, Portugal, the U.K., and New Zealand.
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Mary Murphy is the Managing Editor of GearJunkie. She has been writing about hiking, running, climbing, camping, skiing, and more for seven years, and has been on staff at GearJunkie since 2019. Prior to that, Mary wrote for 5280 Magazine in Denver while working as an outdoor instructor teaching climbing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and mountain biking. Based in Denver, Colorado, Murphy is an avid hiker, runner, backpacker, skier, yogi, and pack-paddleboarder.
Mary also serves as the leader of AllGear Digital’s DEI Committee.
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