How To Choose Travel Insurance

Hitting the road without travel insurance coverage is just not a great idea. You hope nothing will happen, but and if the husband and kids are with you, too, you are really tempting fate.  At its most basic, it provides you with professional advice in case of illness abroad, covers all your expenses or reimburses you for part of them, anyway.  However, lots of travel insurance today covers more than that. It depends on what you buy. Some have a trip insurance provision as well.....lost or delayed luggage, delays and disruptions of your schedule, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation, unauthorized use of your credit cards, financial collapse of travel agencies, and even cover for your pets. In other words, a whole new complexity...but don't be rattled.  Relax. Here are some steps to take:

Step 1

List the "must be covered" items in your travel plan. If you anticipate problems with hospitals in your destination, make sure you know the closest hospitals you can use. If you are in Southeast and South Asia among others, you can count on select hospitals in Thailand and Singapore. Remember, it's not just where the doctors were trained, it's all the nursing, technician skills and general cleanliness.  If you are going to a place where you trust the doctors and the hospital and the price is reasonable, then you may not really worry. If repatriation is a possibility or evacuation to a third country's hospital is a concern, make sure you put this on your list. And if you are really worried, take a boat cruise, there will be a doctor on board!

Step 2

Assess your current insurance coverage. Start with your health card if your national government is involved.  Then check your current policy agreements and note down what they cover and how much is allocated per item. Sometimes reading these things is just impossible so phone and ask questions. If they won't or can't answer...maybe it's time for a new insurance package! List down the coverage you get from your credit cards. Include also coverage provided by membership in clubs or other organizations. Make sure, all this information is current. Do NOT assume anything. You just cannot believe what these policies do NOT cover and with any vagueness, you are history! Some policies cover everything that will never happen! Some of you may have employer-based insurance. Remember, the low bidder probably won the contract and the odds against there being more than a really skinny travel plan are very long.

Step 3

Contacts. With some packages, you may have access to a telephone help line with an operator speaking your own language who can help you find local medical facilities so be sure to get a local number for the country you'll be visiting.  Toll-free numbers often don't work overseas. They work on VOIP such as Skype though, or computer phones. Phoning your insurance company back home once you have a problem is one of life's least pleasant experiences.  Lock this down before you leave.

Step 4

Contacts. With some packages, you may have access to a telephone help line with an operator speaking your own language who can help you find local medical facilities so be sure to get a local number for the country you'll be visiting.  Toll-free numbers often don't work overseas. They work on VOIP such as Skype though, or computer phones. Phoning your insurance company back home once you have a problem is one of life's least pleasant experiences.  Lock this down before you leave.

Step 5

Identify the gaps and the extras. First, ensure that your "must be covered" items are included in your current policies and verify that such coverage includes trips abroad. Verify the number of days or weeks abroad they cover as well as the amount they are willing to pay. Once you have all the information, make a list of the extra coverage you want. Many offers are in packages, such as annual or per trip; family or individual and basic or premium. These are just the simpler ones. The options can be almost infinite.

Step 6

Do your research. Call up insurance companies, your travel agent, your own insurance company or friends who have substantial experience and get their recommendation. Look up online resources and see what is on offer for your list. Remember the country you are visiting and the duration of your stay abroad will have a bearing on your coverage. Ask what happens if you extend your stay. Will they charge you more? Civil insurrection (yes, it can happen without much warning) military interventions...are you covered...ask. Can you purchase special coverage for this? Do they have their own medical clinic in the country you are going to? What hospital will they bring you to in case of an emergency? Do they have their own network of medical professionals? What happens if you need to be evacuated? Or, only your wife? Or, only your child? If it is an annual family package, are there restrictions around travel by individual family members?

Step 7

Choose your plan. Compare coverage and costs of the various offers. Identify the top 3 providers from your research and study each further by ascertaining some of the data such as location of hospitals, trying out telephone numbers and finding how their staff handles your inquiries. If you travel frequently, it might be cheaper for you to purchase an annual plan. With some packages, you may have access to a telephone help line with an operator speaking your own language who can help you find local medical facilities so be sure to get a local number for the country you'll be visiting.  Toll-free numbers often don't work overseas. They work on VOIP such as Skype though, or computer phones. Phoning your insurance company back home once you have a problem is one of life's least pleasant experiences.  Lock this down before you leave.


Purchase the coverage that will give you peace of mind. That is what you need to enjoy your trip.

 

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Comments

Oct
1

Sometimes the purchase of a ticket also includes some insurance coverage, or is given as an option. Some credit cards also offer insurance coverage when the card is used to purchase flight fares, etc.. But again, best to be safe than sorry.

By Enid Sevilla