How to Choose Travel Insurance
How many of you hit the road without any insurance coverage? You often take this for granted especially when it is just a short trip. Without travel insurance, your trip may just be more costly.
Travel Insurance: The Cost of Doing Nothing is High
You hope nothing will happen. But, without travel insurance, you are really tempting fate especially if spouse and kids are with you, too. This is just not a good idea. Doing nothing may turn out to be very costly.
Travel insurance often provides professional advice in case of health problems abroad, covers all your medical expenses or reimburses you for part of them. However, lots of travel insurance today covers more than that. It depends on what you buy. Some have a trip insurance provision as well. This includes lost or delayed luggage, delays and disruptions of your trip, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation and more. You can buy coverage for your pets as well. Even for failure of travel agencies handling your trip. In other words, a whole new plethora of choices that often leave you rattled. But don't be overwhelmed by the choices. Go over your own needs and just get what you require.
For lucky people like some of you, your employer takes care of ensuring you and your family are covered. But even here, review the fine details. Take the time to ask your questions to understand the coverage better and if there are gaps, for heaven's sake, purchase coverage for the gaps. For many, you just have to manage on your own. So start digging.
1. Review your current insurance coverage
Make a thorough list of the things your current coverage take care of. Identify what they cover if you are outside of your country. Also, when you have your family with you. When my husband had surgery in Hanoi, some of our expenses were covered by our country's national health care insurance. Make sure you have all the proper receipts and documentations and submit these when you return to your own country. Better still is before you leave, know what your insurance require for claims to some of the benefits so you will ensure these papers are done when you meet any emergency. Getting these papers once you are back home are often difficult and take so much time.
2. Identify the gaps in your existing insurance coverage
3. Do your research on travel insurance you need
Armed with your list of items you want covered, call up your travel agent, your friends who travel a lot, insurance companies and get their recommendation. Look up online resources. See what is on offer for your list.
Remember, too, that the country you are visiting and the duration of your stay abroad will have a bearing on your coverage. Ask what happens if you extend your stay. Will they charge you more? What about civil insurrection (yes, it can happen without much warning) or military interventions? Are these covered? If not, can you purchase special coverage for this?
Do they have their own hospitals or medical clinics in the country you are going to? What hospitals will they bring you to in case of an emergency? Do they have their own network of hospitals, walk-in clinics or medical professionals in the country you are going to?
What happens if you need to be evacuated or repatriated? What about your spouse? Your child? If you are getting a family package, are there restrictions around travel by individual family members?
4. Compare Coverage and Costs of the Various Insurance Offers
Identify the top 3 providers from your research. Study each provider further by ascertaining some of the data. Try out telephone numbers to make sure you get immediate response and test how they handle your inquiries.
Ask about the plans they offer. If you travel frequently, it might be cheaper for you to purchase an annual plan. Or, a family plan. With some packages, you may have access to a telephone help line with an operator speaking your own language who can help you find local medical facilities. This is important. Toll-free numbers often don't work overseas so ask for a line you can call from overseas. Better still, get a name you can directly contact. Even better, a direct line for their medical facility or contact in the country you are going to. Lock this down before you leave.
5. Purchase your Travel Insurance
Unless you have lots of money, get the insurance you need. The little things you can afford, don't worry about these. Make sure you have the coverage for the big ticket items. Read reviews online on the coverage insurances provide on these items and choose appropriately. Peace of mind is important to enjoying your travel and stay abroad.
Prepare your questions well before you meet with the insurance company you have identified. Know that there are many types of travel insurance being offered in the market. Some offer comprehensive coverage which includes trip and medical coverage as well as evacuation and repatriation. Make sure you understand what you should look into before you purchase your coverage.
When you plan to stay longer in an overseas country, it is sometimes better to purchase the insurance in that country. This is true of international insurance providers. Sometimes, you can save money as countries are classified into categories by insurance companies and chances are the country you are going to stay in may be classified in a much cheaper category than your own country.
Review your coverage regularly an take notice of changes in your coverage.
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