Yes, I will admit that Travel Insurance is not a very sexy subject. However, it’s a critically important one for international travelers. Not making the right decision can potentially jeopardize your health & impact your bank account big time! That’s why I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while.
Travel coverage (like all insurance) seems like a real waste of money when you don’t need it – but it’s certainly a lifesaver when you do. As you know, foreign travel comes with all kinds of possible hazards – including things like accidents or illness, medical evacuation, missed flights, lost luggage, cancelled tours, and travel-company bankruptcies.
Luckily, most international trips go smoothly without major problems, not counting those pesky, minor travel inconveniences. The truth is that accidents (or illness) can happen to you (or your travel partner) anywhere, anytime. Wouldn’t it be great if we each had a crystal ball to know exactly when our “travel luck” might run out – but life isn’t quite that predictable!
Focus of This Article
Undoubtedly, the subject of Travel Insurance can be complex & confusing. I hope to demystify it for you & give you all the important terminology & concepts so that you can make better, more informed decisions. The focus is on International Travel where trips (and their price tags) get bigger, grander and more complicated.
Plus, you are traveling further from home, including from your healthcare providers. As you might imagine, there is not one best travel insurance company, nor one perfect plan. And your insurance needs will greatly differ between your trips – think trekking in Nepal vs. a river cruise in Europe.
I strongly suggest you carefully read the section on Emergency Medical Coverage & Medical Evacuation – to avoid a major calamity. Personally, I buy some type of travel insurance for all my international trips. However, even if I don’t purchase a “full travel policy” (which is often), I always get one covering emergency medical & medical evacuation. The medical section below will make it very clear why!
My Travel Insurance Experience – Guatemala
So far, I’ve only needed to use my travel insurance once – and that was on my 2010 trip to Guatemala. Turns out, the Pacaya Volcano, located just 15 miles south of Guatemala City, erupted 3 days before our flight out of the country. It covered Guatemala City in ash and closed down the country’s main international airport for almost a week!
As a result, our group had to spend four additional nights until we could finally book a flight home – and it was out of neighboring El Salvador! Luckily, three of our “travel captive” days were spent in lovely Antigua. Once home, my travel insurance (using the trip interruption benefit) paid all additional costs of lodging and meals.
Giving Credit Where Credit is Due
I am certainly no “insurance wonk” so I did a lot of research for this article. I particularly want to credit Christopher Elliott who runs Elliott, one of the web’s largest consumer advocacy sites. He’s been helping people with travel insurance issues & other travel snafus for years – and I’ve learned a lot from him! I also want to credit SquareMouth.com (whom you’ll hear about later) and “Mr. European Travel” Rick Steves for their good info.
Some Reasons You May or May Not Need Travel Insurance
Here are some rough rules to begin the process. More details in the various sections below:
When you might want to skip travel insurance:
- If it’s a short, simple and inexpensive trip within the United States.
- If you’re spending less than $5,000, or if you don’t mind losing the value of what you’ve prepaid for your trip should something happen before or during your vacation.
- If your trip includes components that aren’t covered by insurance. For example, you’re staying at a friend’s house or redeeming frequent flier miles for your vacation. (ie, they are not prepaid items that are nonrefundable).
- If coverage would be redundant. For example, if your credit card or other insurance would cover the same event. (see credit card section near the bottom of the post)
When it might be a good idea to purchase travel insurance:
- If you’re spending more than $5,000 on a trip – ie, a “big ticket” purchase!
- If you’re paying a lot of up-front money for an organized tour, a cruise or short-term accommodation rental – which are expensive to cancel.
- If you or your travel partner have questionable health, or if you have a loved one at home in poor health. (be sure to check pre-existing conditions section below)
- You just want the peace of mind that comes with having a policy.
- If you have a complex or lengthy itinerary with a lot of moving parts.
- Anytime you leave the country – regarding coverage for emergency medical care or medical evacuation which can cost tens of thousands (see medical sections below!)
What is Travel Insurance
Okay, first some boring insurance definitions and legalese, so please bear with me! It’s important to fully understand the terms so you know what you are buying. It gets better, I promise!
The insurance menu includes the following five main courses:
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption
- Baggage – for luggage that is lost, delayed, or damaged
- Emergency Medical Coverage
- Medical Evacuation
- Flight Insurance (only if the plane crashes, heaven forbid!)
These types of insurance are generally sold in some combination. “Comprehensive insurance” covers all of the above – plus expenses incurred if your trip is delayed, if you miss your flight, or if your tour company changes your itinerary.
Trip Cancellation & Interruption
Trip Cancellation & Interruption – Here’s the quick difference: Trip cancellation is when you don’t go on your trip at all. Trip interruption is when you begin a journey but have to cut it short. In that case, you’ll be reimbursed only for unused trip costs and, in some cases, transportation expenses to return home.
A standard trip-cancellation or interruption insurance policy covers the non-refundable financial losses or penalties you incur when you cancel a prepaid tour or flight for an acceptable reason.
- The most common type of insurance is a “Named-Peril” policy. It allows you to cancel or interrupt your trip if you experience a covered event. Your policy will include a list of covered reasons and will pay you 100 percent of your non-refundable trip costs when you cancel for one of those reasons. These can include an injury or illness to you (the insured), a traveling companion, or a close family member, among other reasons.
- A second kind of insurance is a “Cancel For Any Reason” policy. It costs more than a named-perils policy and covers any kind of cancellation, including those not addressed by basic coverage. You may be reimbursed up to 80 percent of your non-refundable trip payments and deposits if a trip is canceled for a reason other than a named peril.
This Cancel for Any Reason policy can be useful if you might have a specific reason for cancellation that is not covered under the standard benefit. The trip can be cancelled without any explanation, up to a short time before departure. However, you must purchase this coverage very soon after making your initial trip deposit (~ 14-30 days). Also note: The claim will pay less than 100% of the trip cost, normally about 75%. And the premiums are hefty, possibly up to another 40% more!
Common Insurance Exclusions
Of course, travel insurance (like all insurance!) won’t cover everything. The standard “named exclusion” policy has a few notable exceptions:
- Pre-existing medical conditions. Though some policies offer a waiver for medical conditions, you need to make sure you meet all of its conditions. Otherwise, canceling a trip because your bad back acted up will be unsuccessful. (see medical section below)
- Changing your mind. Don’t want to take the vacation? Most insurance won’t cover you, but you can always go for the more expensive “cancel for any reason” policy, which would.
- Mental-health concerns are generally not covered.
Terrorism & Severe Weather Incidents
Nervous travelers are often concerned about two big unknowns: terrorist attacks and natural disasters. Here are some generalities about them but, as always, check your specific policy. (Note: War or disease outbreaks generally are not covered under most travel policies).
- Terrorism – coverage if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip because of a terrorist attack.
Most policies place strict limits on terrorism-related claims. You will likely be covered only if your departure city or a destination on your itinerary becomes the target of a terrorist incident within 30 days of your scheduled arrival. And, the terrorist group must be officially recognized by the U.S. State Department. Even then, if your tour operator offers a substitute itinerary, your coverage may become void.
- Hurricane & Weather – coverage if you have to cancel or interrupt your trip because of a natural disaster or severe weather event. This can include flight delays, mandatory evacuations, hurricane warnings, or if your accommodations become uninhabitable or the destination airport is gone.
Other Notes About Travel Insurance
- Trip Cancellation & Interruption insurance can be used whether you’re on an organized tour or cruise (with upfront prepaid costs) or you are traveling independently. However, in the case of independent travelers, only prepaid expenses (such as flight and non-refundable hotel reservations) will be covered.
- Note that some travel insurance, especially trip-cancellation coverage, is reimbursement only. That means you’ll need to pay out-of-pocket for all your expenses, then submit the paperwork after you get home to your insurer to recoup your money. With medical coverage, you may be able to arrange to have expensive hospital or doctor bills paid directly.
- 24-Hour Assistance Service – Most travel insurance offers a “hotline” for a range of travel and medical emergencies, reached by a free call from any worldwide location. The emergency assistance may provide “concierge” style services, translation services, assistance with lost passports, arrange medical evacuation (if covered), and more.
What Does Travel Insurance Cost?
The price of a travel policy depends on 3 main factors: your age, the cost of your trip, and the length of the trip. To get an insurance price quote online, you will need to enter those items, plus destination country(s) and your state of residence – because insurance providers are not licensed in every state.
In general, the older you are, the more insurance will cost – just like regular health insurance! Also, the longer your trip – and the more the trip costs – the more expensive the insurance. The final premium will also depend on the specific types of coverage you select (such as comprehensive vs. medical only) and actual coverage limits (like $50,000 vs $25,000 of medical coverage).
Insurance prices can vary widely, but it typically costs between 4 and 10 percent of your trip’s prepaid, non-refundable cost. Of course, a “cancel for any reason” policy can run even higher. Age is one of the biggest factors affecting the price. Rates go up dramatically for every decade over 50, while coverage is generally inexpensive or possibly even free for children 17 and under.
In addition, engaging in a risky activity (that makes a claim more likely) might necessitate buying a more expensive policy. (see medical section below) CAUTION: The lower the price of your policy, the higher the chance that it will be filled with exclusions and coverage limits – so check the fine print carefully!
Where to Buy Travel Insurance
There are generally four main options for buying travel insurance:
- Your Travel Provider (airlines, cruise lines, tour operators)
- Direct from a Travel Insurance Company (travel insurer)
- Your Travel Agent
- An Online Travel Market Place – like SquareMouth
Your Travel Provider – Travel gurus whom I respect (like Peter Greenberg & Pauline Frommer) strongly recommend against doing this. Often, the coverage will be more expensive and/or provide lesser coverage. And, if the travel provider goes out of business, you’re left high and dry because the travel insurance is gone too.
Travel Insurance Companies – These companies sell insurance policies directly to travelers, usually online (and possibly through travel agents). The big players (all highly reputable) are:
Travel Agent – Your travel agent may offer you an insurance policy. Just make sure it’s not one from the travel provider (like a cruise line) but from a reputable travel insurer (like above)! You still may want to comparison shop that policy with the “marketplace” option below.
Online Travel Insurance Marketplace – These are third-party websites that allow you to compare a variety of policies. They make it very easy to quickly find (and buy) the best travel insurance policy for your trip. (see next section)
Travel Insurance Marketplace
On these marketplace websites, you put in the required “travel stats” (including your age, travel dates, countries visiting, and travel costs). You are then given multiple insurance quotes from different reputable companies. The sites also allow you to do side-by-side comparison of the various policies, along with information about what is and is not covered for each plan.
You can also further sort for special requirements. I have been using the SquareMouth website for many years. It really does make it easy to find the “best value” policy for each of my trips – which is the lowest cost policy that still provides my desired types and amount of coverage. They all have 800#s where you can speak with an agent to answer your questions.
Here are 3 Travel Insurance Marketplace Sites with good reputations:
Note: The 3 websites above represent many of the same insurers but there are some differences. For example, Allianz Travel Insurance & Travel Guard are not listed on SquareMouth but are sold on the other two. So, it’s always good to comparison shop between a few different sites – both insurance marketplace sites & travel insurers.
I want to mention one last company that is a favorite of globe-trotting travelers – and many travel blogging peers! World Nomads is a travel insurance company dedicated to independent travelers and intrepid families. They offer simple and flexible insurance with just two “levels” of policies.
World Nomads is not represented on the 3rd party insurance marketplaces so you need to visit their website directly to get a quote. They cover many “adventure” activities (such as scuba diving & skiing). However, American travelers are covered only up to age 70 and pre-existing medical conditions are not covered.
Emergency Medical Insurance
Emergency Medical coverage & Medical Evacuation (next section) is a very important topic. Whenever you travel abroad, all kinds of unexpected medical issues (both injuries & illnesses) could happen to you or your travel partner. Even if you are both the picture of health, one of you could take a bad fall or develop appendicitis, requiring surgery at a local hospital.
I was an emergency room nurse in my first career, so I can name off a long list of things that could befall travelers! Plus, I’m sure if you talk to any of your well-traveled friends, they will have a story (or two) of unexpected medical incidents that happened to them or a fellow traveler.
What is Emergency Medical Coverage
Emergency Medical & Dental — This pays for the cost of treatment (hospital or doctor) associated with a medical or dental emergency (unexpected illness or injury) incurred while traveling. This coverage may be secondary to your primary health insurance (if you have it).
Why You Might Want Medical Coverage:
- Travel medical insurance gives you peace of mind. If you do get sick, eat something that makes you ill, have an accident or fall and break a bone, someone will be there to help.
- If you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, someone with medical knowledge will be able to speak directly to the hospital and prevent any major mistakes.
- You may get turned away from a hospital if you’re not insured. I’m told this is the case in quite a few countries around the world.
Important Note: Hospitals and other medical providers outside the U.S. often ask for “upfront” payments for medical services, some of which can cost thousands of dollars. However, in emergency situations involving costly procedures or overnight stays, the hospital will typically work directly with your travel-insurance carrier on billing.
On the other hand, they will not work with your regular health insurance company back home. In that case, you will likely have to pay the hospital or clinic yourself, then get reimbursed by your stateside insurer later. This is a major reason why I always purchase emergency medical coverage for international travel!
Are You Covered By Your Current Health Plan?
- First check with your medical insurer because you might already be covered abroad by your existing health plan. Be sure to ask about any policy exclusions and pre-authorization requirements.
- Do you have Medicare? While many U.S. healthcare insurers cover you overseas, Medicare does not. So, it’s critically important that all 65+ travelers obtain adequate medical coverage. However, certain Medigap plans do cover some emergency care outside the U.S. – so call the issuer of your supplemental policy for details.
- Even if your health plan covers you internationally, you may still want to consider buying a medical travel policy. Much of the additional coverage available is supplemental (or “secondary”), so it covers whatever expenses your health plan does not.
Primary vs. Secondary Medical Coverage
These terms can be confusing. Essentially, primary or secondary coverage determines the order in which you can file a medical claim. However, both provide similar benefits while traveling. You will still receive emergency medical treatment at the destination, whether your policy has Primary or Secondary coverage. Good to know!
Primary coverage will pay a claim first, even if you have other medical insurance. Secondary coverage will only pay the amount left over after claiming from all other medical insurance policies you may have. So, the reimbursement process at home will take longer and involve more work. If you do not have any other medical coverage, the Secondary travel insurance will act as your Primary provider.
Pre-Existing Medication Conditions
This is another important travel bugaboo that can really slip up travelers. Pre-existing medical conditions refer not only to you (the insured), but most likely your traveling companion and possibly even close family members back home – if anyone has medical issues that might cause you to cancel or interrupt a trip.
- Pre-Existing Medical Condition – is an illness or medical condition that has been diagnosed before the travel insurance policy was effective. You need a policy with this benefit in order to be covered for medical treatment, or to cancel or interrupt the trip because of a pre-existing condition.
- A medical condition is not considered pre-existing if it has been controlled and unchanged (stable) for a set amount of time, known as the “look-back period.” This period varies between insurance carriers, but it is typically 90 to 180 days.
What To Do If You Have a Pre-Existing Condition
Some travel insurance policies will cover an existing medical condition under certain circumstances. Normally, pre-existing conditions (that are controlled) are covered if the policy is purchased within a certain time period following the initial deposit (payment) of your trip.
** For most policies, this pre-existing medical coverage is only available up to 14-30 days from your initial trip deposit – possibly as short as 10 days! Some policies may offer this coverage if you purchase your policy before you make your final trip payment.
Important Notes About Pre-Existing Conditions
- If a pre-existing medical condition might be an issue for you, a traveling companion or a close family member – you need to do careful research at the time you make your initial trip payment.
- Some policies that automatically cover pre-existing conditions need to be purchased within 10-14 days of the first payment.
- Check the fine print of your desired policy to see how a family member’s pre-existing condition might affect your coverage.
- Due to the complexity of this issue, it’s really a good idea to speak to a travel insurance expert to check policy rules & requirements to make sure you are getting the proper coverage.
- Remember you can always buy a more expensive “Cancel For Any Reason” travel policy.
Pre-Existing Medical Waiver – Some companies & policies offer a “waiver” for medical conditions but you have to make sure you meet all of the conditions. Otherwise, canceling a trip because your bad back acted up will be unsuccessful.
A pre-existing condition waiver — which you get by filling out the insurer’s questionnaire — applies only if you are healthy enough to travel at the time that the trip is confirmed, and without any reason to expect that the status of your health would change. Of course, this will most likely increase the cost of the policy.
Coverage of High Risk Activities
Keep in mind that Emergency Medical & Medical Evacuation insurance may not cover you if you’re participating in an activity your insurer considers to be dangerous. These can include activities such as skydiving, mountain climbing, bungee jumping, scuba diving, white-water rafting or even skiing.
- So, if you’re planning to do anything at all physically adventurous on your trip, be sure to read your policy’s fine print to check what they include & exclude. Even if you are “just” going hiking, trekking, or bicycling, make sure those activities are covered.
Luckily, some companies sell supplemental insurance for adventure-sports coverage. And if you’re a scuba diver, the excellent Divers Alert Network (DAN) offers trip insurance for scuba divers and Dive Accident Insurance (including hyberbaric chamber coverage). I always purchase this coverage when I am planning to dive on a trip.
Why Do You Need Medical Evacuation Coverage
Medical Evacuation Insurance – covers the cost of transporting you to a medical facility where you can receive appropriate medical treatment in the event of an emergency. It might also mean transport back to your home hospital, if deemed necessary. In a worst-case scenario, this can mean a medically equipped — and incredibly expensive — private jet (possibly with a nurse accompanying you).
Here’s one scenario: You are trekking toward Machu Picchu and you fall and break your ankle or worse. You need to be rescued by helicopter and flown to a hospital, and then after the hospital stay, special arrangements are needed to fly you home. Without medical evacuation insurance, your final bill could run into the tens of thousands of dollars or more!
Examples of other situations where you might need medical evacuation:
- You have a bad moped accident on a small Greek island
- You suffer a heart attack on safari out in the African bush
- You develop acute appendicitis while at sea on a cruise ship
- You break a leg while hiking in the Alps
- You suffer a debilitating medical illness in rural Nepal
What Hospital Will You Be Brought To
It’s important to remember that Medical Evacuation plans really differ. Sometimes this coverage can get you all the way home after an accident or major illness. More frequently, it will get you just as far as the nearest major hospital that can provide the appropriate level of care that you need.
Medical Repatriation – which is getting you all the way home – is likely to be covered only if it’s considered medically necessary. Before purchasing a policy, ask your insurer to explain what exactly is covered before and after you get to the first hospital.
Plans come with 800# Traveler Assist – to help you through the entire process. They can recommend local medical providers, arrange for the medical transport to the appropriate facility, monitor your medical care throughout your treatment, provide updates to family, and assist with returning you to your home country by regular airline or air ambulance (if covered by the plan).
Another Benefit: Many policies include medical evacuation not only for the injured traveler, but often for a companion if they are traveling together. And, if the injured person is traveling alone, his/her insurance plan might also pay for flying in a friend or family member to meet the injured person and then accompany them back home.
Exorbitant Costs of Medical Evacuation
The costs of medical evacuation can be outrageously expensive – potentially exceeding $100,000! A travel agent in Florida recalled a client who had to be evacuated from a transatlantic cruise. The cost was $80,000 – only $25,000 of which was covered by his insurance. Ouch…
For travelers taking a cruise, the SquareMouth site recommends at least $100,000 of Emergency Medical and $250,000 of Medical Evacuation coverage. That’s because cruises typically involve international destinations and multiple days at sea.
Because of those potentially staggering costs, I don’t travel abroad without an Emergency Medical & Medical Evacuation policy – even if I forego the other coverage (like trip cancellation). You might be surprised to learn that on a comprehensive travel insurance policy, the Trip Cancellation & Interruption is by far the most expensive part of the premium!
At the least, I hope you will consider purchasing Emergency Medical & Medical Evacuation coverage whenever you are planning to travel somewhere “remote” where good quality hospitals & medical care might not be easily accessible. Then, in case something “bad” would happen, you would be protected! **See bottom section about Supplemental Coverage for Air Ambulance / Medjet
Insurance Through Your Credit Cards
Many of today’s popular credit cards come with some form of travel insurance. Of course, like with other travel perks, you usually need to pay with that card. Importantly, you should never assume that all trip insurance policies are created equal because they are not. And the free ones can be especially “unequal.”
In general, credit card insurance covers basics like car rentals, trip interruption and cancellation – and coverage may even extend to your travel companions. However, standard travel insurance policies (the “named perils” type) generally cover more events, including emergency medical costs, delays, and change fees. And their coverage limits may often be higher.
Even when the coverage looks the same, there can be important differences. Carefully read the fine print on your credit card policy. Do not assume you are covered for something that is not specifically spelled out in your contract. Chances are if it’s not written there, it won’t be covered.
For example, a credit card that offers Trip Cancellation & Interruption insurance may only cover the prepaid, non-refundable travel expenses paid with the card. However, if a traveler has to return home early, it may not pay for any additional costs – like booking a new flight at a higher fare or other related travel costs.
- Carefully check your credit card policy to know exactly what it does & does not cover.
- Be aware credit cards generally do not provide medical coverage, so you might want to consider buying separate emergency medical & medical evacuation coverage.
- Even if your card offers some coverage, you may still want to purchase regular travel insurance if your trip is a high dollar or high risk one.
Check Your Homeowners Policy for Personal Property Coverage
In addition, you may have some coverage through your homeowners or renter’s insurance. Under most policies, your personal property is protected against loss or theft anywhere in the world – but your insurance deductible still applies.
Of course, check specifics with your insurance agent who can also let you know of any items that might be excluded (like cell phones or tablets). In addition, baggage insurance (under a comprehensive policy) may cover the deductibles and items excluded from your homeowner’s policy.
Final Remarks & Travel Insurance Cautions
1) Research Immediately After Making the Initial Trip Deposit
- To be safest, buy your insurance policy within a week of the date you make the first payment on your trip.
- Policies purchased later than the insurer’s designated cutoff date (generally 7 to 21 days) are less likely to cover pre-existing medical conditions (yours or family members at home), tour company or air carrier bankruptcies, or terrorist incidents.
- The online Travel Marketplaces (SquareMouth / InsureMyTrip / TravelInsurance.com) are a great place to start. Their websites are filled with helpful resource information, plus they each offer an 800# where you can speak with an agent about your specific needs.
2) Prioritize Your Coverage – What Do You Really Need
Each international trip you take will be different, so your insurance needs will vary. Of course, you need to plan for the worst case scenario but always hope for the best! Imagine all the things that could go wrong on the particular trip and check to see if they’re addressed in the named-perils policies you are considering.
Here are some examples of questions you can ask yourself:
- What is likely to go wrong?
- What kind of coverage am I likely to need?
- Do I have any medical conditions that are likely to flare up?
- Is the destination known to be dangerous in any way?
- What are the hospitals like?
- Is the airline I’m flying prone to delays?
For many travelers, insurance is a good option. For others, it may not be. What are the chances you’ll need it? How willing are you to take risks? How much is peace of mind worth to you? Take all these considerations into account, understand your options, and make an informed decision for each trip.
3) Carefully Review The Policy – Know Exactly What You’re Buying
- Take your time when you buy insurance. The worst policies are the ones you buy quickly without a lot of thought.
- Carefully read before you make a decision. Yes, travel insurance contracts are dense, but at the very least you should review the summary before you buy it.
- Always read the fine print to see what is covered. For example, check to see exactly how they define “travel partner” or “family member” – your cousin or great-aunt might not qualify.
- Always ask lots of questions – Speak to a knowledgeable expert who can answer them.
4) Be Sure to Bring Your Insurance Card & Policy Info With You
In the rush to get ready for a big trip, don’t forget your travel insurance card and your policy detailing exactly what you’re covered for and how to report a problem. Your travel insurance may be worthless if you forget to carry along the contact information for the company.
Also, make sure at least one other trusted person on your trip – like the tour guide or your travel partner – knows about your Emergency Medical & Medical Evacuation insurance. If you’re unconscious or otherwise unable to call on your own, they need to know what number to call.
5) Call Your Insurance Provider Immediately When a Problem Arises During the Trip
If you think you might file a claim, it’s wise to contact your insurance company immediately to ask them how to proceed. Many major insurance companies are accessible by phone 24 hours a day from anywhere in the world.
While you’re traveling, you may have only 72 hours to notify your insurance company of any problems, or just one day to file a police report in case of theft – or lose your coverage. Policies differ so check the requirements for your policy. Some are less restrictive than others.
IN CLOSING, TWO MORE GOOD RESOURCES (in case you haven’t gotten enough!):
- An article from the consumer-focused Reviews.com website. They researched the best comprehensive travel insurance companies – their report is titled The Best Travel Insurance.
- An article from the ConsumersAdvocate.org website. Their report is titled Best Travel Insurance Based on In-Depth Interviews.
Supplemental Coverage – Air Ambulance / Travel Security Memberships
Finally, I want to share one final option – “supplemental” coverage – in case that might be of interest to you, especially if you travel a lot. You may have heard of Medjet, which provides travelers with “annual coverage.” It ensures you can be brought home in a medical emergency, including for a pre-existing condition.
Much of this information has been taken from an article by Christopher Elliott entitled: What to do when you need more than travel insurance. Here are the highlights:
Travel Security Membership / Medjet
This “supplemental” coverage looks a lot like travel insurance, but it isn’t quite insurance. It’s a travel security membership. It can cover medical evacuation, security services and kidnapping protection, often acting as a supplement — or substitute — to a traditional travel insurance policy.
A company like Medjet can cover an event that travel insurance might not. Medjet has access to a global fleet of more than 250 private air ambulances that can transport members to a home hospital if they’re hospitalized more than 150 miles from home – so this can work in the U.S. too! A one-year individual membership, which includes domestic and overseas coverage, costs $270.
Essentially, Medjet Assist is a hospital-to-hospital transport. Medjet does not cover medical costs unrelated to the costs of the transport. You must first be transported to a hospital with road access in order to use Medjet Assist. They do not offer field rescue or extraction.
As mentioned, your Medical Evacuation coverage will usually get you to the nearest major hospital that can provide the appropriate level of care that you need. Adding a Medjet policy guarantees that you can ultimately be transported back home to your hospital of choice.
This supplemental coverage is not meant to replace traditional travel insurance. But it you’re heading somewhere with substandard hospitals or have security concerns, you might consider a travel security membership program. Of course, this is not for everyone, but I wanted you to be aware of it.
Comments: Do you always buy travel insurance when you go abroad? Where do you buy your insurance? Have you ever had to file an insurance claim? Any tips to share?