Picture this. You’re online, booking airline tickets for your next trip, and a page appears asking you to purchase travel insurance for a minimal fee. Similarly, your travel agent will ask if you want to get insured for the trip.
Before you proceed, ask yourself:
Is it the right coverage for me?
It’s not prudent to buy travel health insurance if you haven’t had the time to read the full terms and conditions. Not knowing the exclusions and limitations of your policy may put your life at risk or put you in a difficult financial position.
Having a clear understanding of the type of travel you’ll be doing and being aware of the health risks you may encounter abroad can take the anxiety out of choosing the right product.
When it comes to travel health insurance, you have two choices: a travel health plan or a vacation package:
Travel health plan: Also known as a travel medical plan. These stand-alone policies only cover you for medical emergencies abroad and usually cost a few dollars per day.
Vacation package: Also known as a trip insurance package. This coverage is made up of bundled products that cover you for medical emergencies, trip cancellation, trip interruption, baggage damage or loss, and flight cancellations. These packages are typically 5-7% of your total trip cost.
Items that can affect your coverage
Your policy is a legal contract. Make sure you understand what your obligations and responsibilities are in return for coverage. Read your policy from A to Z, including all the fine print, and understand what you’re covered for and how much. You may discover that your existing travel health coverage or the one you’re thinking of buying is not the right one for you.
Here are some items to keep in mind before buying:
Type of travel: Did you know that activities such as zip lining, bungee jumping, scuba diving, camel riding, or hot air ballooning are typically not covered under regular travel health insurance policies? You may have to think twice about taking up a last-minute invitation to do these or other sporting activities such as skiing, skydiving, rock climbing, backcountry backpacking, white water rafting, parasailing, or paragliding. If your insurer doesn’t have this type of coverage, look elsewhere.
Health: You may consider yourself healthy, but an insurer may beg to differ. From the outset, some insurance providers automatically exclude pre-existing conditions from their coverage. For an additional cost, it is possible to get a pre-existing medical condition rider or waiver, typically available with a trip insurance package. Not all companies offer waivers or their coverage could be limited for pre-existing conditions.
Note that pregnancy complications or child birth, injuries resulting from alcohol use, or psychological disorders like anxiety or depression are not covered by standard insurance plans.
Maximum benefit amounts: Find out the maximum amount of medical costs covered by the insurer. If you’re considering getting the cheapest plan or package available, for example, you may only be covered for $10,000 worth of medical expenses. Some insurers determine payout limits based on age and health status.
Pre-approved care: Some insurers have rules about where you can seek medical care. This is because they have a network of preferred healthcare providers. In this case, you’ll have to get prior approval from the company’s call centre so that they can direct you to the nearest facility of their choice. Failure to call – even in an emergency – or seeking medical care elsewhere may result in you paying part of the medical expenses. If you can’t call the insurer’s call centre at the time of the emergency, have someone else call on your behalf or you’ll have to call them as soon as you possibly can.
Age: If you’re over 60, your coverage may be limited and the policy premium or deductible may be higher. In most cases, you’ll have to fill out a medical questionnaire since insurers consider you at greater risk of illness. Many insurers will not cover you over a certain age.
Navigating the world of travel insurance can be a daunting task. Download the guide for tips on what to look for in travel insurance packages to ensure that you’re fully covered, including information on pre-existing condition waivers and medical questionnaires. It’s
free for members.