If you're going to be doing a lot of traveling, you might want to consider getting travel insurance. However, before you even lay a hand on your wallet, here are some things you'll need to know about travel insurance:
You may already have travel insurance and don't know it. When setting out to see the world, travel insurance should be at the very top of your checklist of things you can't leave home without. Even if you're spending only a few days just outside the US borders, travel insurance is a necessity. As such, one of your first concerns should be to check whether or not you've already got a plan. A lot of people these days have travel insurance plans tied in with work benefits. Ask your human resources department, or any other concerned entity at work, about whatever insurance plans you enjoy as part of your contract.
Credit card companies can also include travel insurance under your credit card's yearly fees. Check with your bank to see whether or not you'll need to contact an insurance agent for your travels. You certainly don't want to be spending your hard-earned dollars on something you've already got to begin with.
It's a worthwhile investment. In the best-case scenarios, you'll never have to see your travel insurance plan come into effect. However, you can never be too sure with things when your life and well being are at stake. Some insurance plans are provincial, meaning they only apply while you're in the country. Travel insurance provides a safety net for you and/or your beneficiaries should something bad happen to you while you're overseas.
Do a little investigation. Get the exact details of whatever coverage you have or are planning to get. Every travel insurance plan is different, and some may not suit your needs. Plans included with work benefits and credit cards may have a limit set to the coverage. For example, the plan might cover only up to $4,000 in medical bills. That's probably not enough if you're about to hike the Himalayas. Make sure every risk that you can encounter is covered by your travel insurance.
Pick a package, any package. Travel insurance is often available in convenient, customizable packages. The bare essential when it comes to selecting a package is medical coverage, but you can opt to add insurance for your baggage, personal effects, and flight/trip cancellation. While it's normally best to be covered for everything so that nothing is left to chance, you'll probably want to work the package around your budget. Start with covering what you value most - your life, and then work your way down.
You'll want to consider your activities as well. Say you're planning to go whitewater-rafting in South America--you'll need to find a plan that will not be void in case of high-risk sports. Coverage in these cases is of utmost importance, as these are the emergencies that are the most pressing. Study your itinerary, and then study your travel insurance.