Anyway, this is sort of a continuance from my previous thoughts regarding travel insurance and the level & length of cover I should get. I keep going back to World Nomads which seems to have a very good reputation with backpackers & other young travellers around the world (based on what I've read at Vogue and Lonely Planet. It is a good price too (cheapest I've seen because it is a "no frills" policy), able to claim whilst overseas as well as extend policy easily. In short, it has $5 million medical expenses coverage (including $500 for emergency dental), $2,500 for personal luggage (plus you can declare specified items for cover up to $3,000, with the limit being $1,000 per item), $2.5 million for legal liability, yada yada.
I did hesitate with this one for a couple of reasons - 1. the maximum you can declare a specified item (like a laptop) to be worth is $1,000. My laptop was $1,600, which means I am significantly under-insuring it. It will only be 3 months old by the time I go away. 2. the couple of hundred dollars in savings on the premium (eg, a year for World Nomads was around $656, the next cheapest I found was $874 with a couple of the bigger global insurance companies) might not be worth it considering with the bigger companies, the cover is a lot more extensive, such as unlimited medical expenses (although if I was in such a situation where a $5 million limit wasn't going to be enough, I think that money could possibly be the last thing on my mind - but anyway), greater coverage for personal belongings (some up to $10,000 and also includes coverage for things such as your luggage going missing on flights), cover for cancellations or delays on your trip that aren't your fault or resuming your trip, and some things that I probably wouldn't need to use like hire car cover or ski run closure.
Also with a couple of the bigger companies (eg, Allianz and QBE - both global companies and recognised overseas, although admittedly, World Nomads is underwritten through Allianz anyway, so the recognition of the company isn't a problem there), while you can't get a refund if you come home early (eg, if you have 12 months of cover but only stay away for 6), you can extend the policy while you're away, and I think with both you can make claims overseas as well (although World nomads definitely looks like it has the best system for that).
I was looking at getting just 6 months cover to start with (because who knows how things could change - whether I come home after just 6 months, or go elsewhere which means having to change my policy anyway, especially if I head over to north America because that requires a more expensive policy. Of course, the problem with that is, what if I don't have the money in 6 months? If I pay for a year in advance, at least it's all done for 12 months, unless of course I need to upgrade to go to North America. It's bad enough that right now, I don't have the money for my return flight home, let alone being stranded without insurance overseas (yes, my savings are going really badly grrr). But if I pay for a year and don't stay all that time, I won't get the money back. I do know that my parents would help me out if I asked them (and I feel horribly spoilt for saying that, but Dad has already said to me, "remember if you're over there and need help getting back here or anything else, just let us know") but I don't want to rely on that AT ALL, I want to be able to do this myself, you know?
The other thing is that 6 months cover is almost 3/4 of the price of a full year's cover anyway, I'm not sure if they would extend cover on a pro-rata basis (eg, a full year = $900, 6 months = $600, for the additional 6 months it would only be $300 provided the cover hasn't lapsed yet).
Anyway, in short:
+ World Nomads = cheaper, more flexible & user-friendly with everything online (it's literally just clicks of a button), but cover is not quite as extensive, limited to the "essentials"
+ QBE/Allianz (or other bigger company) = more extensive cover (but at a higher premium), but not quite as "user-friendly" as World Nomads in terms of making claims whilst being away or extending cover (although I think it is still relatively easy)
+ 6 months cover = more affordable right now, more flexible, but means having to find another $500 or so to extend policy in March
+ 12 months cover = being set for insurance for 12 months but if I come home early, I lose money. I can however upgrade during that time (to go to North America) and pay the difference, but I can't downgrade (to go to Asia) & get money back (-- I can still go to Asia, obviously, and be covered, but it means I have over-insured myself. Just in case anyone was thinking that my Insurance dictates where I go, 'cos it doesn't ;))
Gah. Still not sure, and I told the travel agent I would have it sorted by the end of this week :X
EDIT: I booked a policy through Allianz. They were the cheapest out of all the global companies but still giving extensive cover like unlimited for medical and $5000 for personal items and cover for other various things like cancellations & the like. I decided it was worth paying a couple of hundred $$ more for a more thorough policy than World Nomads, although I've no doubt they are good - I am just a big worrier, and it sets my mind at ease to know I have plenty of travel insurance behind me. I only brought 6 months cover as well, because if I extend til 12 months, I only have to pay the difference between the 6 & 12 month premiums, so it's not any more expensive than buying 12 months upfront, and I don't risk losing money if I decide to come home early (which hopefullyhopefully I don't do!!). Oh yes, and I also brought a Worldwide cover that covers North America, Japan etc, because it was only about $50 more than the cover for Europe. So at least I can travel wherever and not worry that my travel insurance will be void ;) Heh. I can't believe how much I've crapped on about travel insurance here... but anyway, at least I finally made a decision. I have seriously been researching this for weeks, you should see all my pages of notes! And you thought it was only you I was driving insane ;)