Travel medical insurance is a necessity for most world travelers, as many standard medical policies will not cover you when you are abroad. Many travel policies will offer additional benefits, such as medical evacuation or trip interruption coverage.
Here are eight tips for assessing your travel medical insurance needs.
1. Understand Why You Need a Policy
While your normal health insurance policy covers you while you are in your home country, often these policies do not cover international travel. This means that, if you need medical care while traveling outside of your home country, you may be responsible for the costs if you don't have a travel medical policy.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, medical evacuation from an isolated region to a hospital where you can receive adequate care can exceed $100,000.
You can find out what your current policy covers by contacting your provider.
2. Consider What Type of Travel You Will be Doing
Travel policies exist for tourism, vacation travel, business travel, missions, study abroad, work abroad, and more.
If your travel will be frequent, you may want a multi-trip policy, which covers multiple trips taken throughout the year. If you're traveling to study abroad, you may want an international student health policy. If you're traveling as part of a group of 5 or more, consider a group policy like Atlas Group, which provides a 10% reduced rate.
Also keep in mind that many travel medical policies have exclusions for extreme sports and activities like hang-gliding, parasailing, and whitewater rafting. If you are planning on participating in these types of activities, you may need to get a supplementary adventure travel policy.
3. Consider Your Travel Concerns
What are you most concerned about when you are traveling? Questions to ask yourself may include:
- Am I traveling somewhere with adequate healthcare facilities and technology?
- Am I worried about mishaps which might affect my trip, flight, or luggage?
Once you've made a list of your top concerns, it's time to find out whether your current health policy covers you.
4. Find a Policy That Offers Benefits Beyond Just Medical
Note that there is a difference between travel insurance and travel medical insurance. However, understand that many travel medical policies include supplemental travel benefits (Trip Interruption, Travel Delay, Lost Checked Luggage, etc.) in addition to medical benefits
An Atlas Travel policy from WorldTrips also offers benefits for Terrorism, Political Evacuation, Crisis Response (kidnapping or express kidnapping), Natural Disaster, and Personal Liability, among others.
Learn more about the differences between travel insurance and travel medical insurance.
5. Find a Plan That Offers Widespread Coverage and Travel Assistance
First, you need to find a plan that offers a large international provider network. If you are injured or become ill while abroad, a plan with an extensive network of hospitals, laboratories, and doctors will allow you to locate an in-network provider nearby. An Atlas Travel policy, for example, has providers in over 130 countries worldwide.
Next, make sure your plan offers 24/7 travel assistance services. These handy services may include things like travel alerts and warnings, tracking for lost luggage, and lost passport and travel documents assistance.
6. Understand What the Policy Covers—and What It Doesn't
Many travel medical policies include important benefits like Emergency Medical Evacuation. If you are traveling to areas where healthcare is not up to the same standard as your home country, this can be a necessity.
It's important to know that many travel policies do not cover issues related to *pre-existing conditions. Other frequent exclusions include:
- Routine medical examinations
- Routine pre-natal care, pregnancy, childbirth, and post-natal care
- Medical expenses for injury or illness resulting from participation in extreme sports
- Medical expenses resulting from injury or illness incurred while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs not medically prescribed by a licensed physician
What Is a Pre-Existing Condition?
The general definition is an injury, illness, disorder, disease, or other physical or mental condition that exists in a defined period (usually 180 days – 5 years) before your policy goes into effect.
Under WorldTrips’ Atlas Travel plan, a pre-existing condition means any injury, illness, sickness, disease, or other physical, medical, mental, or nervous disorder, condition, or ailment that, with reasonable medical certainty, existed at the time of application or at any time during the 2 years prior to the effective date of this insurance, whether or not previously manifested, symptomatic or known, diagnosed, treated, or disclosed to us prior to the effective date, and including any and all subsequent, chronic, or recurring complications or consequences related thereto or resulting or arising therefrom.
7. Bring the Information You Need With You
Bring a copy of your policy (or two!) with you on your trip. Print your ID card and keep copies in your wallet and luggage. Also keep the contact number for your provider in your phone and in your wallet. You don't want to be stuck in a bind and not know the details of your policy or not be able to contact your provider.
8. Understand the Process if You Need to Use Your Policy
Once you use your policy, make sure to save everything. Save every receipt and every piece of paper, including the medical records outlining your care. You will need these to ensure you are reimbursed for any eligible claims.
To learn more about travel medical insurance, visit our Atlas Travel insurance page.