What Americans Need to Know About Health Insurance When Traveling Internationally

What Americans Need to Know About Health Insurance When Traveling Internationally

Consider the importance of adding medical coverage to your travel insurance purchase. (Photo via iStock / Getty Images Plus / courtneyk)

Nearly half of Americans did not know whether their domestic health insurance plans would cover any emergency doctor or hospital visits while traveling abroad, according to a survey conducted by InsureMyTrip, a leading travel insurance comparison site.

“Travelers should know about any limitations of domestic health insurance policies while out of the country,” the company said.

“In most cases, there are gaps in coverage. Some gaps are significant. Travel insurance is recommended because it can act as supplemental or primary coverage.”

What Americans Need to Know About Health Insurance When Traveling Internationally

Travel insurance. (photo via scyther5 /iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Travel advisors couldn’t agree more.

“I always recommend travel insurance to my clients, especially when traveling internationally,” said Amy Daniel, owner of Custom Design Travel.

“I let them know that many private insurance companies do not cover you while traveling abroad. Sometimes a minor medical issue while traveling can turn into a catastrophe without proper insurance. Travel insurance provides an added layer of protection for you as you travel.”

Daniel noted that it’s also important that clients have a policy that offers both cancellation for covered medical reasons as well as medical coverage and emergency services.

“I never travel without it personally,” she said. “If clients seem hesitant, I tell them real stories of things that I have had happen to clients over the last 25 years.

“They always respond with ‘Gosh I never thought about that.’

And although the pandemic is ebbing, it is clearly not over.

“When you add COVID into the mix – and the COVID testing requirement to return to the US – travel insurance is a must,” VIP Vacations President Jennifer Doncsez said.

“VIP Vacations primarily recommends Travel Insured, which has quarantine coverage at a specific reimbursement rate per day should anyone test Doncsecz positive prior to returning home,” she said.

“If our clients are solely interested in the medical coverage while abroad and the quarantine allowance in destination, we highlight that through Travel Insured. They can purchase a policy that provides for both of these items without purchasing a full policy that covers pretravel cancellation.”

Doncsecz said this is especially recommended for “clients are close to their travel dates and are getting nervous.”

“When we send our clients their documents and have notated that they declined purchasing insurance from the onset, we gently suggest adding the medical/quarantine insurance and more often than not, it is purchased before they travel.”

Another compelling reason why travelers should opt for insurance is trip delays, said Tammy Levent of Elite Travel. “With all the airline delays these days, my clients are opting for this more and more.”

There are also an excellent reasons why older travelers in particular should opt for travel insurance.

“My clientele tends to be a bit older, so one of the first things that I let them know is that if they have Medicare, they will not have medical coverage outside of the US,” said Trish Gastineau, owner of Simply Customized Travel. “It’s something that they have not thought about.”

Gastineau said that one of her current selling points is “a travel policy I offer with a $200 per person, per day coverage in the event the clients get quarantined if they test positive overseas for COVID.”

The per diem benefit is in effect for 10 days, which therefore provides travelers with “a benefit for hotel meals and transportation of about to $2000 per covered passenger,” Gastineau said.

“Given COVID times, the lack of certainty regarding air schedules, and the US government’s insistence on a 10-day waiting period before those who test positive may return to the States, everyone traveling with us must carry travel insurance,” said Churchill & Turen Managing Director.

“It is a “travel IQ” thing. If you’re not smart enough to want proper insurance you’re not smart enough to be a Churchill & Turen guest,” he added.

“The new reality is that to be insured or not insured is no longer a question. The only question is whether or not the guest will/should supplement travel insurance with emergency medical evacuation coverage such as that offered by Med-Jet.

Turen’s advice?

Look at the medical evacuation line of the insurance policy. “If it is less than half a million dollars – move on to the next policy,” he said.

These days, many travel advisors are insisting that their clients sign waivers. “They are theoretically absolving the advisor from legal responsibility,” Turen said.

“So what? I don’t care about the legal ramifications. I care about the guests and their welfare. Too stupid to insure – visit Disneyland instead of Tuscany.”

In the end, err on the side of caution.

“Emergencies are just that – emergencies!” said Grant of Custom Design Travel.

“Nobody plans for one, but you want to be protected should it happen to you.”

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