Are you a traveler, or wants to travel outside your country? This is a Travel insurance guide and how to obtain insurance for international travelers, students, workers and immigrants.
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 or 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.
Keep in mind, that travel insurance is not the same as international health insurance, which is intended for expats and students who are not technically just visiting.
What Does Travel Insurance Cover?
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. If you get into an accident or get sick during your trip, your travel insurance will cover for doctor consultations, emergency treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription drugs and medicine, etc.
Trip cancellation, interruption, or curtailment. If your trip is cut short or cancelled 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.
You can also choose to purchase a Cancel For Any Reason add-on to your existing policy.
Repatriation of remains. In the case of death. It can also include overseas funeral expenses.
Lost, stolen, or damaged possessions, but not is it is due to recklessness.
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.
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
Rental car coverage
Dangerous sports medical coverage
Natural disaster coverage
Cancel for any reason travel insurance
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 cancellation during an ongoing event (eg. extreme weather conditions).
Traveling ravel against government advice.
Does Travel Insurance Have Disability Coverage?
Yes, some travel insurance companies do have coverage for disabilities and pre-existing conditions, but not all. Disability travel insurance is not included in policies by default and in the majority of cases, disabled people will have to pay more to get the additional coverage they need.
You can find coverage for the following instances (on top of the standard travel insurance coverage):
Medical treatment related to your disability/pre-existing condition.
Loss or damage of disability and mobility equipment.
Replacement of essential medication.
Replacement of an essential career.
In the end, it really comes down on a case-by-case basis and you have to contact a travel insurance company to discuss how your disability fits into their policies.
The coverage for physical disability changes depending on the type of disability it is and whether it is “stable”.
What Activities Are Covered by Travel Insurance?
Every travel company has its own policy rules regarding what they will offer coverage for. However, in most cases, travel insurers will offer coverage if you get into an accident doing one of the following activities:
Even the following activities may be covered by some insurers under certain circumstances:
Skiing (if it is done during skiing season)
Scuba diving (if it is done under the supervision of licensed instructors and only up to a certain depth, usually 10-30 meters)
Abseiling and rock climbing (if you have to use special equipment, you will likely not be covered)
Sailing (only within a short distance from the shore)
White water rafting (only for rapids 1, 2, and 3)
Bungee jumping (depending on the specific policy)
What Activities Are Not Covered by Travel Insurance?
There are certain holiday activities that travel insurance companies do not offer any sort of coverage for, such as:
Motorbiking and motor racing
Partaking in professional sports
Running with bulls
If by any chance, your travel insurance company does offer coverage for any of the aforementioned activities, the cost of the overall policy will be higher.
How to Choose the Best Travel Insurance Plan?
There is no single answer to this type of question since it depends on your specific needs and the type of trip you are taking. However, when looking for the best travel insurance policy for your needs, you have to look for the following features:
The actual travel insurance company. Make sure that you’re purchasing your policy from a reputable company.
The coverage that the policy offers:
Is everything you consider important covered? For example, do you have coverage for medical expenses? How much will you have to pay from your own pocket before the insurance company steps in?
What holiday activities are covered by your insurance? If you’re going skiing, you will likely want a policy which will cover skiing-related accidents, and so on.
Is repatriation covered?
Is there reimbursement for trip interruption or cancellation, and if yes, what’s the nature of it?
Will you be covered if someone steals your belongings?
The cost of the policy. See whether the cost of the policy is within your price range but at the same time, keep in mind that inexpensive policies have limited coverage. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t use some handy money-saving tricks (see below).
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.
Here are the steps you need to go through when purchasing travel insurance for international travel:
Decide how much coverage you need.
Find out if the policy offers coverage for where you are going.
Read the fine print carefully.
Buy the travel insurance policy early.
Decide How Much Coverage You Need
When deciding how much coverage you need, you have to think of where you are going, what activities you will do, how long you are staying, and what you’re taking with you. So, you should always choose a policy which covers at least medical assistance, cancellation, and lost/stolen luggage.
When it comes to medical travel insurance, don’t go for the cheapest option because those usually have very limited coverage. If you do have a medical emergency while abroad, you may be left with a large medical bill which you have to pay mostly yourself.
If you intend to take valuable items with you, you may want to insure them in case they are stolen or lost.
If the trip is very expensive, you can consider higher premiums and more covered reasons for cancellation.
If you are going skiing (or some other holiday activity) make sure it is included in your policy as well.
There are a ton of travel insurance comparison websites, such as TravelersCoverage, which make it extremely easy to compare between different insurance policies. Once you know what type of coverage you need, it is easy to compare between plans and choose the one that’s best for you.
Find out If There Is Coverage for Where You Are Going
Before you purchase your travel insurance policy, you have to make sure that it covers your country of destination.
Not all policies are valid for all destinations, and it is rare that a company will offer coverage for a country for which there is a travel warning in place.
Read the Fine Print Carefully
It is very important that you read the fine print before you actually buy the policy. There can be a lot of confusing or misleading claims, which make you think you have more coverage than you actually do.
Likewise, you may not know you’re entitled to make a claim unless you carefully read the fine print, tiresome as it may be.
Buy the Travel Insurance Policy Early
It is also important to buy the travel insurance policy as soon as you can, so that in case you need to cancel, you will be covered for any financial losses. You will never receive 100% of your money back, but depending on the policy, you may be able to receive a good percentage of it back.
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 Does International Travel Insurance Work?
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.
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.
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.