Travel Medical Insurance Explained
Dan Levenson September 10, 2015
The business world is becoming smaller and smaller. As communications technology improves at a startling rate, more and more companies are building international workforces or hiring international contractors. And unsurprisingly, because of this broadening of corporate horizons, there is a great deal of travel involved.
Many Americans travel within the country on a relatively regular basis, so they aren’t strangers to airport procedures such as arrival times, baggage check, and security procedures. Customs processing may be a bit unusual, but the process is fairly self-explanatory. Overall, most Americans would be reasonably comfortable and quite capable to travel internationally for business.
The one issue with such travel doesn’t have to do with the physical process of traveling, nor the conducting of business, but rather the chance that the traveler might become injured or ill while in another country. Most traditional health insurance plans don’t cover international health issues, and they definitely don’t include reimbursement for lost luggage.
That’s where travel medical insurance enters the picture.
Travel medical insurance is usually a temporary or “term” insurance plan, and it is designed to protect travelers while they are abroad. Travel medical insurance usually does not cover pre-existing conditions, as it is solely intended to ensure that travelers get the care they need if something new happens while they are in another country.
What actually is covered varies by plan and carrier, but there are a few constants that you will find on almost every plan.
Travel medical insurance plans cover both inpatient and outpatient treatment—including doctor’s visits and hospitalization—for any new injury or illness that occurs during the trip.
If the policy holder is in a country or region without adequate medical care, the travel medical insurance plan will pay to medically evacuate them to an appropriate facility.
Most travel medical insurance plans cover prescriptions necessary to treat any condition contracted during the travel period. Generally, if the insurance paid for the treatment, it will pay for the corresponding prescription.
The majority of travel medical insurance plans also provide some amount of money in the case of an accident or injury caused by the policy holder. The amount and conditions of the award vary greatly from plan to plan, however, so it is a good idea to pay careful attention to each plan’s wording.
If the policy holder becomes hospitalized (and possibly medically evacuated) for a serious injury or illness, most travel medical insurance plans will pay for a spouse, child, or loved one to fly to their location for a short visit.
If the policy holder’s checked luggage is lost or goes missing, the plan will reimburse the policy holder for its value. This usually does not apply to carry on bags or loose items such as wallets or cell phones, although the medical nature of the plan means many carriers will replace lost prescription medication.
In the case of accidental death or dismemberment, most travel medical insurance plans will pay a sum of money to the policy holder or their beneficiary.
Finally, in the case of the policy holder’s death while traveling, many plans will pay to have the remains transported back to the policy holder’s native country.
As you can see, travel medical insurance has quite a few benefits. If you or one of your employees is planning to travel in a foreign country, you should strongly consider purchasing travel medical insurance. It is better to be prepared for every eventuality than to be caught off guard when you need help the most.