No one wants to imagine being sick or injured on vacation; but if the worst happens, it pays (literally) to be prepared. Medical travel insurance can save you considerable hassle, time and money, and offer you peace of mind if you encounter health problems while traveling. But it’s also somewhat separate from most standard forms of travel insurance. While most common – and commonly needed – travel insurance is trip-cancellation (TCI) protection, you should certainly consider medical risks when you’re looking at your travel insurance options, up to and including emergency medical evacuation (also called “medevac”) assistance.
Who needs travel medical insurance?
The quick answer to that question is: Anyone who isn’t covered by their regular medical insurance when they’re traveling. More specifically, that means:
∙ Anyone whose regular health insurance/HMO doesn’t pay for services outside the U.S. There was a time when most private health insurance and most HMOs –covered you (and emergency medevac assistance) wherever you went, but that’s no longer the case. With relentless cutbacks in benefits in recent years, many standard health insurance programs will no longer cover medical bills in foreign countries. And most do not cover medevac.
∙ Any senior dependent on Medicare. Medicare will not pay for anything outside the U.S. Even if you have a Medicare supplement that nominally covers foreign travel, benefits are so meager that you might need additional insurance.
Everyone should check their health insurance and travel insurance carrier’s overseas medical benefits before leaving the country for a trip. If coverage is either slim or nonexistent, you will likely need travel medical insurance.
It’s also worth noting that the medical benefits in many travel insurance policies are secondary, which means the insurance pays only for what you can’t claim from your regular health insurer/HMO. On the off chance that you already have good foreign-country coverage, additional travel insurance is probably a waste of money.
Bundled Medical Coverage
Almost all travel insurance bundles include a combination of TCI and medical benefits. For example, for a two-week trip to Europe, the least expensive bundled policy might be a few hundred dollars (total) for two people. This usually covers a few thousand dollars in TCI plus somewhere around $50,000 in medical/dental emergency costs per person, and $50,000 in medical evacuation expenses per person. That’s about the minimum coverage: If you think you need more, you could buy a policy providing TCI plus $100,000 in medical emergency and $500,000 medevac per person for slightly more money.
But if you don’t want the TCI, you can buy just the medical coverage, and adjust according to your needs. On a sample trip I tested, I could buy greatly reduced coverage ($5,000 medical, $25,000 medevac) for about $100 total. Or, conversely, I could pay $195 for $100,000 in medical coverage, per person, plus unlimited medevac costs.
For travel to developed countries, my opinion is that $50,000 in medical and $50,000 medevac would more than cover any foreseeable risks. Travel to less developed areas, however, might call for slightly higher limits. It’s ultimately your call….Read More>>