When you buy a travel insurance policy with a healthcare component, you’re really getting medical emergency and evacuation coverage. Travel-related items like a pre-trip physical, recommended vaccinations or prescriptions aren’t part of the policy; those are covered by your usual insurance.
Medical emergency coverage is for the unexpected–and big ticket–events that you hope you never have to make a claim for. Some examples of possible mishaps:
- Severe food poisoning or an intestinal condition caused by bacteria or parasites
- A broken bone from a stumble while visiting and climbing ancient ruins
- Injury from a traffic accident, whether you’re the driver, passenger, or pedestrian
- Dental issues: lost filling, broken tooth, infection, sudden intense pain
What about things that could occur anywhere? A heart attack or stroke are two examples. What could happen at home can happen while you’re abroad. If they do, you’ll require immediate treatment…and possibly emergency transport to an appropriate medical facility. Depending on your destination, evacuation may be necessary.
I don’t tell you all this to scare you into thinking maybe you should just stay home. Not at all! There is excellent medical care all over the world. The issue is that your domestic insurance–even Medicare–will not cover treatment costs outside the United States.
What about evacuation?
Evacuation coverage is another benefit you hope to never use. But when it’s indicated and necessary, you’ll thank your lucky stars that you have medical emergency insurance. From a heart attack to a traumatic injury, the policy should cover transport by ambulance or airlift.
Many travel insurance policies with medical coverage include evacuation related to safety and/or terrorism situations. (Note: However, travel insurance doesn’t cover in the event you find yourself in a war zone.)
Finally–and sadly–should death occur during a trip, the evacuation portion of medical emergency insurance covers repatriation, or return of the body back home. Some policies include the cost of the flight for someone to accompany the body.
How much medical emergency insurance do you need?
When you’re trying to decide which travel insurance policy to buy, the price is determined by several logical factors:
- Your age: Older travelers pay more
- Length of your trip: The longer, the pricier
- How much coverage you want: Better coverage = Higher cost
Choosing the best plan can seem confusing. Find a company that offers a range of plans for every travel scenario. If your costs are minimal–say you’re using points and miles instead of paying for expensive hotels and flights–you can get a OneTrip Emergency Medical Plan.
Just as with your domestic health insurance, you can determine if you want a basic plan with minimal medical coverage…or if you want $1 million in medical care and $50,000 for evacuation. Maximum coverage can also provide free coverage for children under 17 who travel with you.
No matter what travel insurance policy you select, make sure there is a 24/7 assistance hotline. When you’re in a foreign country, you will need to be ale to speak to someone in your own language. They will be able to locate an interpreter as well as speak to the local medical providers in the appropriate language.
Most insurance companies also charge more for “adventure travel,” meaning personal danger, remote accommodations, and uncertain hygiene practices. Mountain climbing, heli-skiing, and scuba diving are examples. If you’re in this brave/crazy category, you’ll need a specific type of policy.
Every travel insurance company offers a guide to selecting the best plan for your trip. You can also call and speak to a representative if you have questions.
No one wants or expects to become ill or injured during a long-anticipated trip. But a single incident can not only destroy your vacation, but your financial future. Do yourself a favor and purchase travel insurance.
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