If you are planning to travel outside of the US it is highly recommend that you look into purchasing additional health and/or travel insurance.
Why? Because travel insurance is what will provide you with medical coverage when you get sick or injured, reimburse you when your flight is canceled or delayed and you miss your cruise, a family member dies and you have to go home, if your luggage is lost, or something is stolen.
It can be very confusing on exactly what you may need for additional coverage and how much. I would suggest by first calling your primary insurance provider and credit card companies to verify what THEY will or will not cover.
My health insurance, for example, will cover 100% emergency room visits only AFTER my deductable has been met. I would be responsible to pay out of pocket, and then submit my bills. I have found some credit card companies that provide some travel benefits IF you used the card to pay for your airfare or rental car, for example.
Most, but not all credit cards do however provide the benefit of no foreign transaction fees, which could save a lot of money, especially if you had to use your card for unexpected charges.
Another option that is often available is the ‘trip insurance’ your tour, cruise or carrier may offer you. Just make sure you read all the fine print, most often you will find that there are loopholes and you will still need some additional coverage.
Things to consider:
MEDICAL COVERAGE – When looking for a plan, make sure it has a high coverage limit on your medical expenses. Most insurance companies will provide up to (at least) $100,000 in coverage care.
EMERGENCY EVACUATION – Make sure your policy also covers emergency evacuation that is separate from your medical coverage. If you are hiking and you break your leg, your policy should cover your evacuation to a hospital. If a natural disaster occurs and you need to be evacuated to somewhere safe, your plan should cover that as well. Additionally, evacuation should also mean from the hospital to your home country. Standard emergency evacuation usually includes this provision, but it’s important you double-check if company will cover the cost of your flight back home if needed.
TRIP INTRRUPTION, DELAY or CANCELLATION – Trip interruption insurance covers you if you have to interrupt a vacation because you get sick, injured, or have to get back home due to a death in the family.
Trip delay coverage covers your expenses if you’re delayed during a trip, for example, your flight gets canceled due to bad weather.
Trip cancellation reimburses you for prepaid expenses if the tour operator goes out of business or you have to cancel the trip because you or a family member gets sick or injured, there is a death in the family, bad weather, or natural disasters.
** If you are going to be looking for ‘cancel for any reason’ coverage many insurance companies require you to purchase the insurance within a certain period of time from which you made your first payment for the trip; usually its within 10 days.
LOST OR STOLEN GOODS – This coverage reimburses you for baggage and personal belongings that are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip. Some plans also reimburse you for extra expenses if your baggage is delayed for more than a certain period, such as 12 hours.
ACCIDENTAL DEATH AND DISMEMBERMENT INSURANCE – In case the worst happens, make sure your plan pays a lump sum to your beneficiary, such as a family member. These policies also pay out if you lose a hand, foot, limb, eyesight, etc on your trip. Moreover, you want to make sure that your travel insurance policy covers the cost of repatriating your body (i.e. sending your body home).
Collision Damage Waiver (CDW) – If you are going to rent a car, you’ll want a policy that will cover damage to a rental car for any cause not within your control like a collision, theft, or natural disaster.
24 HOUR EMERGENCY HELP – You want to make sure your insurance policy has a 24 help line to help you locate local physicians, dentists, or medical facilities. When medically necessary, you want to make sure they also help arrange and pay for appropriate transportation, including an escort, if required, to a suitable hospital, treatment facility or home.
There are several sites where you can compare several different insurance companies, my favorite is SquareMouth.
Don’t wait to purchase your travel insurance. Even though you can wait until you leave, it’s best to get it as soon as possible. Every day you wait, there’s a chance something could happen and you can’t get it after the fact. If a hurricane ruins your trip, your travel insurance would only cover you if you purchased it before the hurricane formed.
In summary, travel insurance can provide you with all-purpose emergency coverage and is the single most important thing you should get for your trip (but hope to never have to use). For only a few dollars a day, it’s worth considering. Personally, I wouldn’t leave home without it.
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Happy and safe travels!