Include Health Insurance in your Summer Trip Budget

Emergencies can ruin your vacation. Be prepared.


By: Maria Alejandra Pulgar

Para leer en Español


International traveling is expected to reach pre-pandemic levels this year, however, more than 60% of travelers are not considering purchasing travel health insurance within the budget for their trip. It is not a matter of being pessimistic, but if something can ruin a vacation, is having an emergency and not having the financial resources to handle it.

Domestic health insurance covers you while traveling within the US, but neither Medicare nor many private insurances cover international health emergency costs, hence the importance of including the purchase of a health insurance policy within the preparations for a trip abroad; it is not a significant expense, but the benefit can go a long way, giving you peace of mind in case events do not go as planned on the trip.


How to choose a good travel health insurance

There are plans for different budgets, with a broad selection of coverages, deductibles, and eligibility requirements. When selecting the right insurance policy for your planned trip there are several points to consider to make the most convenient choice.

First of all, it is important to check the health travel requirements of the chosen destination. In addition, you should consider the duration of the trip, activities planned, and the health condition of the travelers because insurance companies have different requirements for the coverage of emergencies related to pre-existing conditions.

In many places, travel health insurance is mandatory, or there are vaccinations needed before the trip. A good place to review that information is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

The plan selected has to be valid for the entire duration of the trip and a few extra days in case of delays or extensions. If a person travels abroad several times a year, there are annual plans that can be purchased once and are activated only when the person goes on a trip. Also, if the trip includes activities that may imply more risks, it is important to review carefully the terms of the policy subscribed, to be certain that in case of an injury or accident, the expenses will be covered.

Some pre-existing conditions are not covered or limit the eligibility for a policy.  There are some plans that can cover those conditions if purchased within a certain period of time after booking the trip. Make sure to meet the criteria of the plan you choose to avoid inconveniences down the road.

Finally, it is important to read the reviews for the insurance companies considered to learn from the experiences of other customers about their response and support. Two good online places to compare quotes, coverages, deductibles, and eligibility are Travelinsurance and Consumers Advocate


What to do in case of a health emergency abroad

Assuming you have purchased your travel health insurance, being calm to make the right decisions will go a long way if an emergency happens while abroad.

Upon arriving at a destination, find out the local emergency number, especially if you are not staying at a hotel or with locals. Contact them immediately if an emergency happens.

After calling the local emergency or authorities, contact your travel health insurance provider, who can assist with referrals or additional information, transportation, and, most importantly, payment. It would not be a bad idea to bring along a credit card to be used just in case of emergency if the travel insurance cannot be reached immediately and some kind of payment is requested to receive medical attention.

Contact your travel insurance provider if you have subscribed to a policy, as several expenses, such as flight change fees, evacuation costs, cancellations, etc., might be covered by them. Also, contact your airline and report any changes to your expected travel plans.

Before discharge, make sure you receive not only the financial information but also the medical records of all the treatment and medication received abroad so you are able to provide that information to your doctors in the US and update your medical history. Request if those documents can be translated to English to avoid delays in the coverage response.

Traveling can be a rewarding and enjoyable experience, but it can also pose some health risks and challenges, and emergencies can happen; with proper planning, preparation, and protection, you can minimize the risks and maximize your fun.



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