TRAVEL HEALTH INSURANCE BASICS
International travel health insurance Buzz
Maybe you’ve recently encountered friends talking about travel health insurance prior to taking that long anticipated tour of China. Or you have a son or daughter considering health coverage for a study abroad semester in Europe. Perhaps at a party you’ve heard references to a medical evacuation membership program. With people crossing international borders at a rapid pace more and more travelers are viewing portability of medical coverage as a major issue.
The world has changed and traveling around the globe is not what it used to be. Health and safety concerns abound from H1N1 to terrorist threats. In the past decade greater consumer awareness has led to an increase in the popularity of travel health insurance.
What Can International travel health insurance Do For You?
The simple fact is that because of strict limitations related to overseas benefits, your health insurance plan is inadequate when taken across U.S. borders. In addition, most health insurers refuse to pay for a higher standard of care in the event you need an evacuation due to a medical emergency. Smart travelers are aware of these restrictions and are not leaving anything to chance.
travel health insurance policies respond by filling in gaps where domestic health insurance plans leave off. If you are not enrolled in a health plan, travel health insurance will act as your primary coverage while overseas.
What to Look For in an International travel health insurance Plan
The most comprehensive products provide more than just emergency benefits. They provide robust coverage for hospitalization but will go far beyond by also paying bills related to doctor office visits, ambulance services, doctor prescribed medications and a whole lot more. The best products available will even cover medical issues that arise from a terrorist event or a chronic medical condition. Also essential: some carriers settle claims directly with contracted medical providers overseas to avoid upfront payments thereby eliminating any waiting time associated with claims reimbursement.
It is also important to understand that there can be a variance in legal rights when you buy travel health insurance. The most secure policies are those that are licensed and approved in the U.S. Note, some plans labeled as surplus lines insurance sit offshore: beyond the reach of your local Department of Insurance. If you have a claims dispute with an offshore carrier, the insurer that sold you the plan has the final word on what gets paid—not your local insurance regulator. If this sounds a little like the fox guarding the hen house then consider a better alternative. U.S. licensed and approved plans are referred to as Admitted Insurance and are the sensible solution when selecting a plan. Not only do you have legal recourse if you run into a claim issue, but the plan has been reviewed to ensure that it offers fair benefits and plan language.
What is the Bottom Line about travel health insurance?
Always be sure to do your homework. Compare plans by looking at the insurance company offering the coverage. Ensure that you read the legal ease rather than just scanning a benefit schedule. Be sure to spend time on the plan definitions and policy exclusions. It is a good idea to ask your broker or insurance company to send you a sample certificate so you fully understand what you are buying.
Sit back, relax and enjoy your trip with a comprehensive travel health insurance plan.