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Do You Need to Purchase Travel Health Insurance for Your Next Trip?

Discover everything you didn't know about Visitors Insurance and why you need it for your next international trip.
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Have you ever been on a vacation that didn't go exactly as planned? If there is one thing every seasoned traveler knows, it's to plan for the unexpected. What if you sustain an injury or fall ill while traveling abroad? Will your domestic insurance cover you, overseas?

The answer is most likely no. Though you can probably receive treatment for your ailment, your domestic health insurance is only valid in your home country. As a result, you could be responsible for paying a hefty medical bill.

Situations like this one aren't all that uncommon. But you can protect yourself by purchasing a travel medical insurance policy, like one of the plans offered by leading visitors insurance solution company VisitorsCoverage, before your trip. Doing so will reduce some of the financial burden should an incident occur during your trip.

What Is Visitors Insurance?

First off, let's get to the terminology. Visitors Insurance is a short-term temporary travel medical insurance policy that provides health, injury, and travel emergency coverage while traveling or during a stay abroad.

Visitors Insurance is a short-term temporary travel medical insurance policy that provides health, injury, and travel emergency coverage while traveling or during a stay abroad.

So, if you develop a foodborne illness or break a leg, the medical expenses you incur are one less thing you have to worry about. Best of all, you can focus on recovering and returning home on time — and not on the expenses incurred from the incident.

How Does Visitors Insurance Work?

Visitors insurance generally operates like standard health-care plans. Present a copy of your insurance card provided by the visitors insurance company, pay the deductible, and the company takes care of the rest. (Note: You'll receive a bill in the mail from the insurance company for the percentage of coinsurance and services received that weren't covered under your plan).

But what if the provider isn't in-network or won't honor your policy? You'll have to pay for treatment out of pocket and submit a claim to the insurance provider for reimbursement after the fact. So be sure to retrieve adequate documentation from the medical provider to substantiate your claim.

What Does Visitors Insurance Cover?

While plans vary, most visitors insurance policies cover treatment associated with a new medical emergency, injury, or accident, as well as travel-related risks.

Most visitors insurance policies cover treatment associated with a new medical emergency, injury, or accident along with travel-related risks.

If your condition is life-threatening and medical evacuation is required, you may also be covered. And in the event you pass away while traveling, some of the costs associated with transporting your remains will also be paid by the insurance provider.

Review your policy details to get a better idea of the included coverage. You should also be mindful of excluded services. These usually include pre-existing medical issues, preventative treatment, dental problems that require major work, and vision-related issues.

To understand what Visitors Insurance generally covers and what it does not cover, refer to this Visitors Medical Insurance guide.

How Do You Choose a Plan?

There are two types of visitors insurance plans to choose from.

Comprehensive Coverage Plan
Most comprehensive plans have some form of co-insurance. However, the coverage is extensive because the plans have high coverage limits. You will also be able to take advantage of travel protections, such as emergency evacuation and baggage loss if needed. And if you're traveling in the US, there are networks of PPO Providers to choose from so you can save money on care. (PPO Providers are also available in select countries outside of the US.)

Purchasing a comprehensive coverage plan is always your better option since they offer better coverage and protect against health care costs incurred while you are in a foreign land. Just expect to pay more for this type of plan because of how extensive it is.

Limited Coverage Plan
If you're searching for a low-cost visitor insurance option, a limited coverage plan may be your best bet. But unlike comprehensive coverage, travel benefits usually aren't included. And each medical service you receive is only paid by the insurer up to a certain amount. Therefore, you may pay more out of pocket for major medical incidents, and no PPO network of providers is available.

How Is Visitors Insurance Priced?

Insurance providers consider several factors when pricing visitors insurance plans, including:

  • Your age
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Level of coverage
  • Type of travel

Also, plans that are refundable, have low deductibles, or are accompanied by excessive administrative fees may ultimately prove more costly than other plans if you get hurt.

Do not be deterred from purchasing travel medical insurance based on the myth that it'll cost you a fortune. Most plans can be purchased for well under $10 per day; some plans can even cost $3 or less per day.

Most plans can be purchased for well under $10 per day; some plans can even cost $3 or less per day.

To get an idea of how much you'll spend for coverage, get a detailed quote.

Do You Need Visitors Insurance?

The choice is ultimately yours, but here are a few key benefits to purchasing additional health insurance while traveling:

  1. You'll have a peace of mind knowing that you're covered if you fall ill, sustain an injury, or have an emergency. This is especially the case if your current policy won't cover you when traveling abroad.
  2. Affordable plans protect you without breaking the bank. Plus, the benefits of being covered definitely outweigh the costs of a plan should you need to file a claim.
  3. There are minimal barriers to entry and medical underwriting isn't required.

You don't have to plan ahead or wait until open enrollment. Coverage can be purchased at any time.

How to Find a Visitors Insurance Plan

Ready to start shopping for a plan but don't know where to start? Since all policies are not created equal, it's in your best interest to explore your options before settling on a plan. Sites like VisitorsCoverage can help you do just that.

Simply enter your destination, travel dates, and age, and several quotes will be generated for you. The marketplace also gives you the option to compare plans side by side and buy coverage directly from the dashboard.

Happy Travels!


Contributing Writer

After spending several years as a governmental accountant, Allison transitioned into the world of freelance writing. Her work has appeared on on a number of reputable sites, including The Wall Street Journal, Investopedia, Daily Finance, MSN Money, and Credit.com.
DealNews may be compensated by companies mentioned in this article. Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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3 comments
liuite
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield does offer travel coverage, but draws a line between "urgent care" and "emergency care." Emergency care, Anthem says, is requires by an injury or condition severe enough to result in "placing the Member's physical and or mental health in serious jeopardy; serious impairment to bodily functions; or serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part."

"Urgent care," on the other hand, "may not be covered to the same extent as emergency care." For example, Anthem says, a fever not higher than 104° is considered urgent, not emergency care.
kaymore
By far, the most serious financial risk is for non-US citizens visiting the US who might need care.

If you are a US citizen with little or no insurance coverage, you will probably receive better care at a much lower cost in developed countries outside the US.
irdeggman
My BS/BS coverage does provide coverage for overseas medical costs - I do have to submit a claim for them, so I have to pay up front and everything is out of network.

But I believe that since BC/BS covers this that most other major insurers do too.