Foreign Travel Health Insurance – Are You Sure You’re Covered?

So you are finally taking that dream vacation to Mexico, South America, or Europe. Or maybe you are sending your child away for a semester abroad. You have spent several months planning the flights, accommodations, and activities. You even purchased the trip cancellation insurance from your travel agent that protects you in case one of your flights gets canceled.But wait! Before you lock up the house and head off to the airport take a moment to consider what would happen if you or a family member were to have an accident or get severally ill while on your vacation. How would you deal with the emergency?If you are covered by a traditional health insurance policy, either through your employer or an individual policy obtained on your own, you might have some limited foreign travel benefits. However, it’s a good idea to check with your insurance company before flying the friendly skies so you understand what is and what is not covered. Most might be surprised what you find out.Typically a traditional health insurance policy only provides limited foreign travel benefits. The limited coverage that may exist usually only applies to true emergency care. Without a supplemental Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy, if you have an emergency situation while traveling outside of the U.S., you take on the following responsibilities by yourself:* Finding a facility and a qualified (hopefully) doctor to treat you
* Paying for the services rendered at the time of the event so you can be discharged
* Collecting all x-rays, chart notes and supporting information regarding your case
* Translating all of the information into English (if needed)
* Once you have returned to the U.S., filling out a claim form and submitting it to your primary insurance company
* Waiting to find out if your insurance company decides your case was a true emergency
* Assuming the claim is decided in your favor, accepting their out-of-network reimbursementAlso, most plans are less than clear about how, or even if, air evacuation and air ambulance services are covered. The fact is traditional health insurance plans are not designed to provide comprehensive foreign travel coverage.There is a better way! Yes, you guessed it. Purchasing a supplemental comprehensive Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy is the best way to protect you and your family in the event of a medical or health related emergency while traveling abroad. Here are a few of the advantages of purchasing such a policy:* If something happens you have an international toll free number to call for help
* The person on the other end of the phone helps you find the nearest pre-qualified, English-speaking doctor in your destination. They are your advocate.
* All claims and payments for provided services travel between the foreign provider and the Foreign Health Travel Insurance company. You are still responsible for any deductible amount associated with your plan.
* Benefits are guaranteed and clearly defined for air and medical evacuation to the nearest pre-qualified, English-speaking treatment facility, and for repatriation of remains.
* Bedside visits are included in some plans. If you are expected to be in a hospital for more than 7 days a limited dollar amount is paid towards a friend or family member’s airfare so they can come support you
* Access to a foreign over-the-counter drug translation service. The same drugs are given different names all over the world. This type of service helps you find exactly what you need.
* Most policies also provide assistance and limited cash reimbursement for re-issuance of lost passports, airline tickets, and replacement of lost luggageSo how much does a comprehensive Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy cost? Probably a lot less than you think. Depending upon the level of coverage selected, premiums can range from about $1 per day and up. Most plans offer you a choice of deductible, typically anywhere from zero to $500 per plan benefit period, and a choice of the maximum benefit amount, usually anywhere between $50,000 and $1,000,000. Coverage can be purchased for a few days up to 6 months or longer.I strongly believe in purchasing a supplemental Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy before leaving on your vacation not only because it’s my job as an independent insurance broker to provide these policies but because in 2007 while on a trip to Africa I had the opportunity to use my policy. I can tell you that having an advocate on the other end of the phone that speaks English, makes calls on your behalf, and arranges local services for you, is priceless when in crisis. I have also had the difficult experience of helping clients who didn’t have a Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy deal with a medical crisis while in a foreign country.The few dollars it takes to purchase a Foreign Health Travel Insurance policy also buys extraordinary peace of mind knowing that if something were to happen, you and your family members would be covered. Take a little additional time to find and purchase a policy that is right for you. You and your family will be glad you did.