Travel insurance is a considered choice and, frankly, sometimes not necessary. However, it is absolutely essential for an older American traveler with international destinations in mind. The primary reason is adequate medical coverage. Employer-based medical coverage may be sufficient (check your policy), but Medicare falls far short outside the U.S. Supplemental “Medigap” policies will provide you with only very limited coverage if you become sick or injured abroad. Furthermore, you’ll want to protect your international travel investment against an array of mishaps, from lost luggage to unforeseen cancellations. Here’s how to find the right travel insurance plan for you.
Travel Insurance topline
– Depending on the policy and selected upgrades you can expect to spend an additional 5-12% on travel insurance.
-Tour companies commonly offer trip insurance packages so put that option into the mix. Obviously, there is a commission incentive for tour operators and they are not insurance experts. If you have a question, ask the insurance provider.
– Policies vary! You can elect medical-only coverage, and forgo any evacuation coverage, trip cancellation/interruption coverage, flight or baggage coverage. On the other hand, a comprehensive package will give you the most no-questions-asked coverage and banish expenses right off the bat. Lastly, be sure to pay careful attention to medical “pre-existing conditions” clauses, too, if that applies to you.
Travel Insurance – where to start
(Note: this is NOT a sponsored post, nor is 3 Score & More receiving any commission from providers mentioned below.)
– Visit an online aggregator to compare policies based on your age, travel cost, medical history, and coverage preferences. Travel Insurance.com and SquareMouth.com both offer interactive queries to help you sort through the many options.
Below is a screenshot of SquareMouth’s interactive form. I plugged in an imaginary trip to Argentina including “cancellation coverage” as that would be very important to me.
Note: this is a “single trip” policy. If you travel frequently, you can opt for an annual policy covering several trips over a year. It will offer similar coverage to the single trip policy with the exception of cancellation options.
Below is the response to my query; the top 4 of 27 policies are shown. The price among all 27 ranged from the mid $300’s to over $1000.
The description details of each plan, in plain English, are accessible by clicking “policy details”.
For the sake of simplicity, I did not include any additional filters. Options covering an increase in coverage can be added by clicking “policy details”. The price adjusts automatically.
I then chose 3 carriers for comparison: RoamRight which won the top spot in the SquareMouth algorithm, CSA, the least expensive offering, and Trip Assure, the most expensive of the lot.
Scrolling down to compare plans is very illuminating (again note, below is only a screenshot). You can make a pretty informed decision about your options or toggle back to “All Policies” and compare other plans.
Important for solo travelers
Make sure there is some sort of “medical reunion” clause in the medical coverage. It ensures that the insurance carrier will cover the cost of a friend or relative to come to your bedside if necessary. Some policies cover that person’s accommodation, too. The clause will read something like, “If you are or will be hospitalized for more than 7 days, we will pay, up to the cost of a single round-trip Economy Transportation ticket and, up to $250 per day up to 5 days for expenses for hotel nights, meals and local transportation for one person chosen by You to visit Your bedside, provided You are traveling alone and Emergency Medical Evacuation or non-emergency Medical Evacuation is not imminent.” (Source: Roam Right Preferred)
Never again will I travel abroad solo without this kind of coverage.
Finally, understand the fine print
Travel medical insurance
– Does the medical coverage include medical attention, paramedical, ambulance, emergency dental and travel expenses to return home (or bring a loved one to you)? Understand the dollar limits on coverage.
– Pre-existing conditions require that you are clear about your own ability to travel so you don’t misrepresent your health circumstances. Make sure you understand the policy’s pre-existing language in the policy, especially with regard to “Stable” and “Treatment” clauses. Don’t hesitate to call the insurance carrier’s customer service line for clarification.
Trip cancellation and lost luggage
– Know what cancellation circumstances affect your policy. Weather, of course, but what about the loss of employment, illness (yours or a loved one), jury duty or other “stuff” that life serves up? An “any cause” cancellation option, when possible, is expensive and won’t reimburse you 100%.
– Similarly, what are the circumstances regarding “trip interruption”? Know before you buy.
– The question of loss luggage can be a thorny one. If you have expensive luggage or carry costly gear such as computers, high-end cameras or other technical equipment, take photos of your equipment so you can document the particular models if lost.
So, get your insurance, pack your bags and go! The anticipation of travel and the excitement of discovery should be your only “concerns”!
What are your tips on travel insurance?
Feature photo by STIL on Upsplash
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