Travel Insurance: Do I need it?

If you are thinking about traveling on business or for pleasure, domestic or international, consider travel insurance. No one likes to anticipate what might go wrong while traveling, especially when travel is a vacation. Unfortunately, things DO go wrong and if you have ever had the misfortune of a vacation gone wrong, you know what I am talking about.

Travel agencies offer a variety of options of insurance plans to their clients when making travel arrangements. Such plans include cancellations, medical expenses, loss or delays, and 24/7 assistance and medical air evacuations. However, travel insurance is not all-inclusive so it is prudent to consider using a reputable travel agent and read the fine print to book your travel reservations, especially when traveling outside the country. A good website that I found that that was helpful to travelers to better understand travel insurance, company reviews, etc. is Travel Insurance Review http://www.travelinsurancereview.net/tips-and-advice/understanding-travel-insurance/what-is-not-covered/.

Credit card companies offer their clients a form of travel insurance that is limited coverage when the trip is paid for using that company’s credit card. Most often these types of plans cover accidental death or dismemberment coverage, something that does not help the traveler if they are injured and needs to get home. Travelers sometimes believe that their personal medical insurance may cover medical expenses while out of the country in the event they are injured. While both of these options may cover some expenses, they normally do not cover the cost of getting you home if you are unable to do so on your own.

For example, you may already have a medical insurance policy in place. However, personal medical plans do not provide you with a list of doctors to assist you in European countries, for example, or off the Coast of Barbados. You may have to pay 100% out of pocket expenses just to get medical care. In these cases, travel insurance with medical coverage can save a person thousands of dollars in the event that medical treatment is needed.

Here are some things a person might ask in regards to travel insurance:

  • What type and how much coverage am I getting?
  • What exactly does the plan cover? What does it not cover?
  • When and how fast will I get reimbursed?
  • Is the fee reasonable for the coverage?

I am not making any claim to be an expert on travel insurance. BUT, what I do know is how important travel insurance can be to persons traveling both within the U.S. and internationally. Trinity Air Medical works with travel insurance companies when an air medical escort is necessary to return a client home who has suffered an injury while traveling. Companies like AIG/Travelguard offer excellent travel insurance policies for travelers.

Case example: Mr. A is on vacation in Costa Rica. While on an extensive bicycle tour, he falls and fractures his femur bone. He is unable to return home as scheduled due to surgery. Mr. A purchased a travel insurance plan. He is in need of a medical transport to get him home. His travel insurance company receives information from his doctor that he is medically stable to travel but will need assistance due to the pins they inserted in his leg, a cast and crutches. He had fluctuating blood sugar levels during his stay in the hospital and that needs to be monitored as well. He does not need an air ambulance and is able to fly on a commercial flight with a nurse or paramedic. Because Mr. A purchased the appropriate travel insurance, the expense of his medical treatment and medical transportation are covered. He can have peace of mind knowing that he will be escorted home with a medical clinician and not have to pay for this expense out of pocket which could easily equate to $8,000 on up.

You may think to yourself that if ever you are injured you will just “do it yourself” and get yourself home. Let me shed some light on that picture. First of all, traveling with medical needs is exhausting and can be very complicated. There are TSA restrictions on traveling with medical equipment such as oxygen concentrators or IV medication. Just getting to the lavatory on a commercial flight can be a major issue. Then there is the issue of “IF.” If your doctor clears you for travel home by yourself. Remember Mr. A? Let’s say Mr. A’s physician had determined that the care and rehab in Costa Rica is “adequate” and is not going to recommend Mr. A to discharge home to the U.S. If Mr. A did not purchase travel insurance he will have to pay for his medical expenses out-of-pocket. If that is the case, you can bet he will get the bare minimum care outside of the U.S. unless he has the cash to pay. Other countries are not as lucrative with their health care as the U.S.

Wouldn’t it just be better to purchase a travel plan each time you travel and have peace of mind? We hope this information helps you find the right travel insurance that protects you on your next trip! If you are ever in need of a medical escort while traveling, please give us a call. We have medical clinicians that can help you safely return home while minimizing the stress that air travel can create. If you have travel insurance and are in need of a medical escort, please ask your travel company to contact Trinity Air Medical as your preferred medical escort company. Even if you do not have travel insurance give us a call, we can help: 1-888-977-9772.

Safe travels!

Written by Cheryl Aisporna, BSN, RN
Director of Clinical Operations for Trinity Air Medical Patient Transport Division