For most travelers, whether they are planning a domestic trip or an international one, the best starting place for travel insurance is to research comprehensive policies. Comprehensive Policies are popular because they tend to provide a breadth of necessary benefits that will meet the needs of a majority of travelers. Depending on the plan and policy chosen, as well as the needs of the individual traveler, comprehensive policies can also be offered with additional benefits such as Cancel for Any Reason (CFAR) coverage or coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.
Comprehensive policies commonly cover trip cancellation and interruption, delays, emergency medical care, emergency medical evacuation, and baggage loss, among other things. Because of their comprehensive nature, they are generally a very good fit for travelers who are embarking on domestic trips. Since U.S. residents will be covered by their own medical insurance providers as long as they remain within the country, there’s usually no need for domestic travelers to look into any additional coverage such as evacuation only or travel medical plans. Domestic travelers can also usually choose a comprehensive policy that offers them lower medical coverage limits without concern, which can be a cost savings. As always, you should do thorough research and ask questions of a licensed travel insurance expert in order to fully understand the coverage you’re purchasing.
International travelers, on the other hand, should be aware that there are a few additional concerns they’ll need to address when purchasing travel insurance. While a comprehensive policy is still likely a good fit for most international travelers, depending on your individual situation and the terms of any plan you’re considering, you may need to adjust some of the coverage options to make sure you have a travel insurance policy that offers you complete protection. When you’re planning to travel internationally, one of the first things you may want to do is contact your health insurance provider to find out whether there are any limitations or restrictions on your insurance plan when you’re overseas. Some health insurance providers continue to extend benefits to their subscribers while abroad, but others may offer only partial benefits, or none at all. Medicare, for example, does not offer any coverage to its subscribers if they are outside of the United States.
Depending on the policies of your health insurance provider, you may need additional insurance coverage for your trip abroad. Many travel insurance comprehensive policies will offer you enough travel medical coverage to adequately take care of your needs, but you should always check the coverage limits to be sure. If you’re uncomfortable and feel that you need more protection, looking into a specific Travel Medical plan is always another option.
You may also need to consider coverage for pre-existing conditions, whether yours or a family member’s. Keep in mind that a Pre-Existing Conditions Waiver can often be included in travel insurance comprehensive policies, but there are some stipulations and restrictions. You also need to make sure to purchase your travel insurance as soon as possible after making the first payment on your trip if you’re interested in coverage for pre-existing conditions, since most travel insurance policies will not offer you that benefit if you purchase your policy more than 14 days after your initial trip payment.
Lastly, if you do travel abroad and find that you need to seek emergency medical treatment, it’s always advisable to keep detailed records so that you’ll be better equipped to file a successful claim with your travel insurance company later. Since travel insurance generally works on a reimbursement basis, you will be responsible for the costs of your treatment up front, and you’ll need to file a claim and have it accepted by your insurance company before receiving your reimbursement. It’s crucial to have as much documentation as possible, which includes the records from the hospital or treatment facility where you receive medical care. Making sure to get those records and documents in person, while you’re physically at that facility, is crucial, since many travelers have found that trying to contact foreign hospitals for paperwork after returning home is a frustrating and usually unsuccessful venture.
Whether you’re traveling domestically or internationally, travel insurance can be a helpful tool to protect you and your plans. There are a wide variety of benefits and plans available, often with differing coverage and exclusions, so it’s important to be sure that you’re well-informed before purchasing. Always read your policy thoroughly and immediately upon receiving it so that you can make any adjustments you need to make, or ask questions of your travel insurance provider about coverages and limitations you may not fully understand.