When you’re getting ready to head out on vacation, travel insurance—and medevac memberships—is probably the last thing on your mind. You’re probably in for a few surprises during your travel, but the last thing you need is the kind of unexpected event that comes with a doctor attached. As far as travel insurance and medevac memberships are concerned, there’s no better way to put it than it’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.
And because it’s not always easy to determine what level of coverage to pick, we’ve put together a handy travel insurance and medevac membership checklist to help you out.
Where are you going?
Many times policy rates and coverage are determined by destination—and by number of destinations you’re visiting. If you’re headed outside the United States, make sure their definition of “Europe” and/or “Caribbean,” for example, covers the places you’re visiting. Check to ensure you’re covered if you’re crossing national boundaries and, if you’re visiting a country on the State Department’s list of dangerous places, know your insurance might very well be invalidated. Also, if you’re going on a cruise, make sure every place the ship stops is included.
How long will you be gone?
There are different levels of coverage available—and for different prices. For example:
- Short-term or single trip covers trips up to 90 days
- Long-term or multi-trip covers trips up to one year
- Expatriate (or ex-pat) covers U.S. citizens living overseas
If you travel out of the country several times a year, you might want to consider an annual plan or multi-trip insurance to help save you money and time on your next trip.
What about medical emergencies?
This is probably the most important part of the equation for most of us. A safety net, so to speak, is crucial if we are critically injured or ill abroad. Check how much coverage each particular plan offers and make sure you read every detail. You’ll want it to include emergency medical evacuation back to your home country and your home hospital—meaning, back to your network of doctors. Check on coverage for preexisting conditions as well.
Keep in mind that offering to cover transportation to “the closest adequate medical facility” is NOT enough. This could very well leave you in very “adequate” clinic where they don’t speak your language, and they don’t accept your medical insurance.
There are also insurance options that cover medical costs up to a certain amount. You might find you need to get more than one policy to ensure you’re covered in most eventualities: we’d say medical evacuation and actual medical coverage are biggies.
How much stuff do you have?
Most travel insurance policies cover your personal belongings—you just have to make sure the coverage is equal or above what you’re taking along with you. Don’t assume everything you take is covered, though, as many times common items (laptops, passports, cameras, jewelry) are not covered. Check the disclosures and agreements for details and limits.
Cover your trip investment, too.
There’s a specific part to travel insurance called “trip cancellation” (or “trip interruption”) that covers exactly that: the cancellation of your trip for specific reasons. Again, read the fine print: if you have a good policy, it will cover flights, hotel accommodations, car rental, tours and more. Coverage should also include the cost of getting you back home.
Make sure you’re aware of the exclusions.
That means the stuff the policy DOESN’T cover.
We can’t say it enough: Make sure you read the fine print.
Check your deductibles, the overall cost of your policy, any geographic limitations, length of coverage and the extent of that coverage—plus those exclusions we mentioned.
So shop around: after all, it’s your money, your trip and your well-being you’re covering!