Even though buying travel insurance won’t be nearly as much fun as choosing new snorkeling equipment for a deep sea adventure this summer, it may just save your vacation! Most travelers don’t consider that the health insurance plan they use at home likely won’t provide coverage around the world, so any medical bills that arise on vacation would need to be paid for out-of-pocket – which can become a complete nightmare.
What would happen if you were to break an ankle while hiking in the Himalayas, or had an allergic reaction to a bowl of Kayu in Japan? Without appropriate travel insurance, experiences that would have been groundbreaking can quickly turn catastrophic for your vacation and bank account.
Similar to the insurance you may have at home, travel plans will cover your typical medical expenses (like doctor visits, prescriptions and hospitalizations), as well as a variety of travel-related benefits. For example, these plans can help ensure your personal items, such as a cellphone or laptop, would be replaced if they were to become stolen or misplaced, and can even cover the cost to transport you home if you were to become seriously sick or injured. While each insurance plan will cover different things, another common benefit is called “travel assistance,” which can help with concierge services, money transfers, bail bond aid, and even translation services any time of day or night!
So what is the cost of purchasing a travel insurance plan, you may ask? It will depend on the plan. Many travel plans allow you to buy coverage for only the days that you need, and you have the flexibility to choose your own deductible and policy maximum. This means you can easily select a plan that best fits your vacation budget. Travelers needing insurance within the United States can expect to pay about $1.50 per day (and even less for travel excluding the US), leaving plenty of room in your budget for that snorkeling adventure you’ve always wanted! Perhaps best of all, once you’ve paid for a plan and understand how it works, you won’t need to think about it again – unless you need it.
To help with your search for the perfect travel insurance plan, it’s important to keep the following thoughts in mind:
1. Doctors, Doctors, Doctors: Choosing to vacation in a city with thousands of doctors won’t be very helpful if they don’t accept your insurance. If you aren’t comfortable with paying up front for your medical expenses, be sure to verify how many providers near your destination will accept your plan – before you buy it.
2. Out-Of-Pocket Costs: Even more important than knowing what your out-of-pocket expenses are, is the ability to pay them. When you’ve found a plan that you would like to purchase, contact your insurance agent and ask them to explain the portion of the bill that you will need to pay – and don’t forget to add these potential expenses into your vacation budget.
3. Proof of Coverage: Be aware that it generally takes about a week for your insurance documents to arrive by mail. If you are leaving for vacation sooner rather than later, be sure to confirm that you will have immediate access to your online documents and print out at least one copy of your insurance ID card.