Do you need Travel Insurance?

Do you need Travel Insurance? As my family embarks on our annual vacation to Hilton Head, I am reminded of the importance of obtaining travel insurance for those who travel abroad.  This weekend, a friend and client discussed the perils of his father in law who, while traveling to Ireland, became sick and is suffering from congestive heart failure in another country.  It was truly a horror story of the mediocre treatment received in a country that imposes limits on end of life care.  The challenge for my friend is a limited Medicare benefit when traveling in a foreign country and the costs associated with transporting his father in-law back to the U.S.

For any client traveling abroad, travel insurance is a must. Why? Doesn’t their ACA-compliant major medical insurance or their Medicare sufficiently cover them when they travel or take a cruise? No, not very well when they venture into another country or into international waters. Most U.S. healthcare plans lose their robustness when an insured travels across an international border. Benefits become limited to emergency use only. Plus, there is more to travel insurance than just major medical coverage.

Travel insurance takes many forms and offers many benefits that range and differ depending on the insurance carrier. Most plans are developed upon a short-term medical insurance chassis, providing cost reimbursement for emergencies, doctor visits, hospital stays, pharmaceutical prescriptions and surgical procedures. It is also common for plans to provide accidental death coverage, repatriation of remains and medical evacuation benefits. The latter is essential in case an insured person becomes sick or injured abroad and is in need of an emergency flight back to U.S. soil or to a comparable facility able to provide reliable care. You can see how an evacuation benefit can be so important to persons traveling to exotic locales without strong infrastructure or responsible health services.

In addition to standardized medical coverage, travel insurance may also include ancillary benefits such as trip cancellation reimbursement, lost luggage benefits, war and terrorism coverage as well as options to cover hazardous sports and activities such as mountain climbing, river rafting and bungee jumping.

Aside from basic travel insurance,  clients should be considerate of the other important international insurances like kidnap and ransom insurance and high-limit accidental death insurance. With the threat of terrorism and foreign violence running rampant through much of the world today, it’s imperative that international travelers protect themselves physically and financially by planning for worst-case scenarios with additional insurances.

Travel medical insurance and other international benefits are relatively inexpensive, readily available and quick and easy to purchase. Many foreign countries now require visitor visas which mandate specific levels of travel insurance and health benefits. For more information regarding travel insurance and our relationship with the Lloyds of London policy written through Peterson International Underwriters, please do not hesitate to give us a call.

Burman S. Clark

Burman S. Clark, RHU, CSA is the President of Muneris Benefits and a licensed insurance broker and consultant. His independent practice and focuses on employee benefits, individual life, disability, medical, and senior products. Burman has traveled extensively and provided guidance to large employer associations with regards to the Affordable Care Act.