having a cheap European policy and then travelling into Africa/Asia).Only a few companies can give you cover on-line while you are away (i.e.
Read, understand, gain confidence and moreover pay for what you actually needed before you go, not what a message of worry tries and sells you.
It goes without saying that you'll need insurance, but it's not something you should be sorting at the last minute as policies vary significantly, start coving you immediately for pre-trip problems and you need to spend a little time reading small print and making sure you don't overpay. Just Google the words and you'll find thousands of results. For example, check if cash and indeed any of your valuables are covered - which they are often not on cheap policies - and how much the excess is that you may need to pay before you get anything back.
For the most travel has got easier and easier over the last decade with huge changes in the last five years driven by the Internet.
So many 'advice' blogs, Internet forums and casual chat of those you meet in totally disregard these facts.
One recommended and well-known insurance company is Columbus (sorry no USA), but new companies are always coming onto the scene like the excellent Globelink or Atlas. Overall the market is competitive with many providers trying to under-cut others, however sadly too few compare policies.
One such newer start-up that comes well recommended from several e-mailed comments and personal experience is World Nomads.
You see them frequently mentioned in travel sites/blogs, as they pay commission, but they claim to be set up with backpackers in mind.
You can do things like extend policies indefinitely and/or make claims online whilst still on the road.
Having total coverage is great and gives an excellent safety net should the worse happen, but if you just can't afford it go for more basis coverage (items 1 and 2) with low or no theft insurance. need to shop around yourself and at the very least compare the terms of the companies recommended on this page.
It is important to mention that the internet is fully of bold claims and misinformation regarding travel insurance as many websites (including at times this one) take a small referral commission for policies booked via them - be warned/wise.
Much of which is designed to part you from your money.