When traveling abroad, international insurance coverage can save you quite a bit of money, especially if a substantial amount of expenditures are incurred prior to departure and there is even a slight chance that your trip may be cancelled or interrupted. This is also the case for risky activities that can result in the accumulation of a large amount of medical expenses that you may not be able to afford.
International travel insurance policies typically range between 5% and 12% of the entire cost of the trip, depending on the options you select. Because of the wide range of coverage options available to those traveling abroad, you must carefully consider your specific needs and budget prior to searching for providers.
During travel, it may be necessary to receive immediate medical attention if you become ill. If you already have coverage in the United States, it may not cover you in foreign countries; this is definitely the case for Medicare and Medicaid recipients. In those rare instances that domestic policies cover medical expenses incurred in foreign countries, you will more than likely have to pay out-of-pocket for any care administered and seek reimbursement upon returning home. However, most international travel insurance policies take care of the claims processing and billing for you.
It is also important to note that these policies are typically sold as supplements to existing coverage.
Trip Interruption or Cancellation
If your trip is abruptly interrupted or cancelled for covered reasons, this form of protection will entitle you to a partial or full reimbursement, respectively. This form of coverage is highly recommended if you will be taking a trip that requires a large cash deposit or if there is a significant chance that you may have to return home before the trip ends.
Occurrences that typically qualify for reimbursement, depending on the policy, include missed flights, tour cancellations and ill family members.
Lost, damaged or stolen luggage qualifies for protection under this type of coverage. However, it is important to note that most insurance providers have maximum reimbursement thresholds for valuables, such as jewelry and electronics. Airlines typically provide some form of reimbursement if your luggage is lost, damaged or stolen while in their care, but may not cover the actual replacement value of all the belongings.
Car Rental Collision
Rental cars that sustain damages as a result of a collision are covered under this option. It is very common for rental car and credit card companies to offer this form of protection, so check prior to purchasing additional coverage.
Adventure Sports Coverage
Some insurance providers will not cover medical expenses that are a direct result of injuries sustained while participating in risky activities. However, adventure sports coverage is available as an add-on to some policies to hedge against the risk of accumulating a significant amount of medical bills if this unfortunate circumstance arises.
Accidental Death or Dismemberment
If you pass away or sever a body part while traveling internationally, accidental death or dismemberment coverage will provide a cash benefit to your family.
Although the chances are highly unlikely, flight insurance offers a cash benefit to your specified beneficiary if you die as a result of a plane crash.
Medical evacuation insurance covers the cost of transportation if you need to be evacuated to a medical facility to receive care. This can be very costly, especially if your injury is life threatening or special accommodations, such as a private jet, on-duty physician, or unordinary seating arrangement, is needed. However, it is essential that you understand the specific of this type of coverage since the way in which some injuries are obtained will disqualify you from coverage.
Where to Buy
There are a number of providers that sell insurance to those traveling abroad.
You should exercise caution and avoid purchasing policies from companies lacking credentials since many scam artists exist online. Reputable companies include:
- CSA Travel Protection is an A+ Better Business Bureau (BBB) accredited provider that offers a 10-day "free look" period. They are also known for their Consult a Doctor and No Out-of-Pocket Medical programs. Reviewers from Insure My Trip were very satisfied with the superior customer service they receive and noted the affordability of the plans and timely claim processing.
- Travel Safe is an A+ BBB accredited provider that is known for its 75% refund policy if requested at least two days prior to departure. They also offer flat rate coverage to customers 18 years of age or younger. Damian Tysdal from Travel Insurance Review noted the appeal of the flexible cancelation as a major benefit of using this provider.
- Travelex is an A+ BBB accredited provider that is preferred by reviewers from Insure My Trip because of their timely reimbursement for stolen valuables and trip cancellations.
To simplify the search process, you can also use a comparison tool that enables you to obtain quotes from a variety of providers. Well-known comparison tools include:
- Squaremouth is a company that has received a Top 5-star rating for the Best Travel Insurance tool by Top Consumer Reviews for three consecutive years. They were also recognized by New York Times as the most comprehensive listing of travel insurance policies. Squaremouth is an A+ BBB accredited business.
- Insure My Trip is known for their relationships with an array of reputable companies. They are also an A+ BBB accredited business.
Selecting a Policy
Prior to selecting a policy that best suits your needs, be sure to compare the offerings with what you already have available through your credit card, medical, renters and homeowner's insurance.
Also, check to see if the policy that you are considering purchasing is primary or supplemental. The latter can result in out-of-pocket costs if your primary provider decides to reject an expense that appears to be eligible for reimbursement in the policy disclosures.