One of the most important parts of preparing for a trip abroad is purchasing travel insurance – something a lot of people tend to overlook. Getting travel insurance – also referred to as trip insurance or travel protection – can save you from unnecessary and unexpected financial loss if you have to cancel the trip or from a hefty medical bill that you cannot afford.
What is Travel Health Insurance?
Travel insurance is a type of insurance (or protection) that is meant to cover all or part of the cost of any medical expenses that you incur while abroad, trip cancellation, lost os stolen items, travel delays, etc.
Travel insurance is intended to cover expenses for things that are unexpected and that occur after the travel insurance policy comes into effect. For this reason, it usually does not include medical coverage for any pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes or pregnancy. On the same note, if you purchase travel insurance after an incident has happened, it goes without saying that the insurance company will not cover it.
- US Visa Travel Insurance.
- Schengen Visa Travel Insurance.
- Germany Visa Travel Insurance.
- France Visa Travel Insurance.
How Does International Travel Insurance Work?
You have to purchase a travel insurance plan from an insurance company. Although most people believe travel insurance only covers travel health insurance, there’s so much more to it. It also covers any expenses that you may suffer if you have to abruptly cancel your trip, if your luggage or any other personal belongings are stolen or lost, as well as repatriation of remains in case of loss of life.
Once you purchase a travel insurance plan, if any of the unfortunate incidents covered under the plan happen, you can file a claim with the insurance company and they will reimburse part or all of the costs, depending on the policy rules. For example, if you fall ill while you are abroad, you can get the doctor’s note and medical bill and submit them to the insurance company to file a claim for re-reimbursement.
International Travel Insurance Coverage
Most travel insurance plans cover the following, although the coverage changes from one company to the other, as well as from one specific plan to the other:
- Medical treatment. This includes doctor consultations, emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs and medicine, etc)
- Trip cancellation, interruption, or curtailment. If your trip is cut short or canceled for some reason, you will be covered for any lost travel and or accommodation costs. The reasons deemed acceptable for reimbursement change based on the policy.
- Repatriation of remains. In the case of death.
- It can also include overseas funeral expenses.
- Lost, stolen, or damaged possessions.
- Missed flight. If the flight you missed was through no fault of your own (ie. the airline rescheduled or had a delay) the insurance company will cover any expenses related to it.
- Return of a minor.
What is not included in travel health insurance?
Most travel insurance companies usually refuse coverage for the following scenarios:
- Pre-existing conditions. If you have a disease such as diabetes, the insurance company will usually not cover any costs related to the disease, such as medications or doctor check-ups. Some companies may, however, cover the acute onset of a pre-existing condition.
- If you are traveling while pregnant, travel insurance companies will usually not cover any expenses related to the pregnancy, such as giving birth, general check-ups, or morning sickness. There are some plans which offer travel insurance for complications of pregnancy.
- Medical treatment as a result of drug or alcohol consumption.
- Medical treatment as a result of reckless behavior and/or engaging in dangerous sports activities.
- Travel insurance for an ongoing event (eg. extreme weather conditions).
Additional travel insurance coverage
There are some travel insurance plans which will cover things that are outside of the “standard” coverage, but you will have to pay additionally. This can include:
- AD&D (accidental death and dismemberment)
- Acute onset of pre-existing conditions
- Dental coverage
- Rental car coverage
- Dangerous sports medical coverage
- Natural disaster coverage
- Terrorism coverage
- Cancel for any reason travel insurance
How to Get Insurance for International Travel?
You can get travel insurance online, through brokers who are sort of middle-men that work directly with travel insurance companies. This is usually the best way because they only work with reputable companies and can offer travel insurance plans customized to your needs, meaning you don’t have to go hunt down insurance companies yourself.
Moreover, when deciding on what travel insurance plan to purchase, it is important to really read through and compare different policies, so you know what you are paying for.
When is the Best Time to Get Insurance?
The recommended time to purchase travel insurance is within 15 days from the day you booked your trip or started paying for it/made your first deposit. As the departure date nears, and you make more deposits, you can include them on your coverage as well.
If you purchase your insurance last minute or after 15 days have passed from the day you booked the trip, you may not be able to get full coverage.
Additionally, if a natural disaster such as a hurricane happens or is expected to happen on your intended destination, and you buy insurance after it has been warned, trip cancellation will not be covered in this case.
How to File a Travel Insurance Claim?
You have to file the claim with your travel insurance company as soon as possible. For this, you need all the supporting documents you can get, if you want the company to actually consider your claim legitimate and cover it. Examples include:
- If you need medical assistance. If you get into an accident or become ill during your trip abroad, you have to save the medical bills, doctor notes, and any other documents that prove you require medical assistance. Once you submit your claim, the insurance company will reimburse the costs of your treatment. In countries like the US, if you have travel health insurance with a reputable health insurance company, the hospital may be able to bill the costs directly to the insurance company.
- Stolen possessions or a car accident. If your personal belongings are stolen or you get into a car accident while you are on your trip, you have to contact your travel insurance provider as soon as possible to learn how to proceed. You must also file a police report, and save the proof for when you make the insurance claim.
- Trip cancellation. If you have to cancel your trip, you must give a reason for it to the insurance company. For example, if the reason was work-related, include a letter from your employer. If the reason was health-related, include a doctor’s note, etc.
- Make sure to contact your travel insurance providers before you depart the country you are visiting so you know what documents you need when making the claim.
- In some cases, travel insurance providers require that you contact them immediately in case something happens.
- Most importantly, read the insurance policy carefully to find out the exact steps your travel insurance company requires you to take to make a claim.
- Make copies of any documents that prove you are eligible for reimbursement.
How Much Does Travel Insurance Cost?
As a general rule, the cost of your travel insurance plan is between 4% to 12% of the overall cost of your trip. More expensive trips will usually cost more to insure simply because if the trip is canceled for some reason, the amount of money that the travel insurance company will have to reimburse is higher. However, the cost also changes depending on the following factors:
- The coverage you need. Plans with just basic health coverage will cost less than plans that include other factors as well, such as trip cancellation, theft of possessions, etc. Even on just basic health insurance, there are different levels of coverage, which can affect the cost of the insurance plan.
- The duration of your trip. The same plan, with the same amount of coverage, will cost more for a trip of 30 days than it will if you are only traveling for only one week or a couple of days.
- How many people are included in your plan. Similarly, if you only need to cover yourself in the plan, it will be less expensive than if you are purchasing health insurance for your entire family.
- Your age. Prices of travel insurance plans increase along with the age of the traveler. People over the age of 65 usually pay more for plans because they are more likely to make a claim, whereas if you have young children, you may be able to add them to your plan with no extra costs.
- Your destination. Some travel insurance companies also look at where you are traveling to when pricing your plan since some destinations have a higher level of risk than others.
Is Medical Insurance for Traveling Worth It?
Whether or not travel insurance is worth it comes down to how much you stand to lose if the trip is canceled. If you have prepaid your hotel room, flight ticket, and other activities which add up to a hefty amount, then getting travel insurance which is a fraction of that price may be worth it.
However, if you are traveling to stay with family, and have purchased a cheap round-trip ticket, you do not risk losing that much, so travel insurance, in this case, may just be a waste of money.
Another instance when travel insurance is necessary is if you are traveling to a country with high costs of health care, such as the US. If you get sick or in an accident in a country with high costs of health care, the medical bill can easily shoot up to tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars, so the insurance cost is just a fraction of it.
Ultimately, it is up to you to judge the odds and decide whether your trip requires insurance or not.
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