• International Insurance Blog

  • Saturday, March 17, 2018

When you are purchasing international travel health insurance, you would have noticed that almost all policies include a clause for repatriation of remains. When I leave this Earth, some might say, I don’t really care where I’m buried (or cremated). Why do I even need that clause in my international travel insurance?

Almost all plans include repatriation of remains as a default benefit. When the unthinkable happens and you pass on during an international trip, remember that your body might become a matter of concern to local authorities.

Some countries do not allow cremation or burial of foreigners unless there is a statement of release. In others, paperwork and procedures for the same can be cumbersome and daunting. Your next of kin will probably be required to take care of all the procedures, and might want everything taken care of as painlessly as possible.

The repatriation of remains benefit takes care of all the formalities. Remember that the procedures may be longer and worse if the death is ruled a murder or suicide. Also, some policies do not cover repatriation if death occurs due to pre-existing conditions. Check that with your insurance company. It is also a good idea to let your next of kin know about the benefit before you depart on your trip.

International travel medical insurance can be a lifesaver in case you do actually fall ill when abroad. In this last post, we’ll look at what to do once the worst is behind you. There will still be some paperwork left before you can continue on your travel.

If you have received medical help or been hospitalized, check whether the medical facility accepts your insurance for cashless settlement. Obviously, it is best to do this before you receive treatment, but in the case of an emergency, that may not be possible. If you will have to pay the fees and then claim reimbursement, request receipts for every dollar (or whatever the local currency is) that you spent.

Many countries allow patients to take their medical records with them when they leave the hospital, and ensure that you take all of that with you, including a discharge summary, in case of hospitalization.

If you are medically fit to continue your travel, do so without fear; however, take up a lighter travel load if possible. If traveling with a group and they have advanced further along the trip, necessitating a change in plan, and you have trip cancellation benefits, check whether you are eligible for some benefits. And most of all, remember to enjoy the rest of your vacation!

In this series, Staying Cool when Sick Abroad, we have been discussing how to take care of yourself when abroad, when you have international travel medical insurance. In this post, we will look at what you need to do in case you fall ill.

If you are running a temperature, or have symptoms of feeling ill, write down the symptoms as soon as able. If you are traveling in a group, check whether others in the group have similar symptoms. If the symptoms are familiar, use medication that you know works for you, preferably something you have brought with you.

When symptoms persist, get medical help as soon as possible. Pre-notify the insurance assistance company before getting any medical treatment. If it is an emergency, you need not inform the insurance company right away, but if you are able, do it immediately. It may slip your mind later. Failure to pre-notify the insurance company may result in a reduction in your claim amount.

When seeking medical treatment of any sort, inform someone in your group or a close relative in your home country (if you are traveling alone). If your situation warrants your immediate return home, call your insurance company to check the best way to organize it. Usually, insurance companies only honor claims for trip interruption organized through the insurance assistance company.

Let's say you've set foot in Cairo, and cannot wait to check out the Pyramids of Giza. It’s warm and the smells are awesome, and you have international travel insurance, so all’s good. Things will work out just the way you planned as long as you follow certain precautions.

First things first, ensure that you take it easy. Travel is inherently linked to stress, and you want to be fit and ready to enjoy different places and cultures. Also remember jetlag: You can either pop a pill to manage jetlag, or time your sleep during travel in such a way as to avoid it.

Plus, there are the usual tips to avoid using that travel health insurance: drink only bottled water and ensure that you make it as difficult as possible for infections to affect you. Also, ensure that you have your regular medication as prescribed.

If illness strikes you in spite of all these precautions, remember: Your insurance may not cover local systems of medicine. If you’re traveling in India, for instance, and are tempted to try the local Ayurvedic medicines for treating your condition, check whether your plan covers it (if you need it to be covered). Also note that although Ayurveda may be very effective, any complications that arise after such treatment might not be covered by your policy.
A visit to Berlin is incomplete without a visit to the Pergamon. To enjoy the museum, you must remain healthy, and international travel health insurance goes a long way in that department. But the trip actually starts when your airplane leaves the runway. You want to make sure that you are insured enough—perhaps with international flight insurance—that your mind is at ease.

The actual travel can actually be quite dreadful and can bring about some symptoms of illnesses. Unfortunately, this is also the most ignored part of the trip in terms of health. To stay healthy, pack a basic medicine kit in your carry-on luggage. Also ensure that you walk around the airplane from time to time.

Also, if you will be traveling to a different time zone, ensure that your trip is not too impeded by jet lag. Budget a day to recover from it. Think about life and flight insurance. Most plans offer AD&D, repatriation of remains, and emergency evacuation benefits. Some plans, such as Travelex Flight Plus, also cover limited emergency medical expenses for illnesses suffered during a flight.

However, not everyone will benefit from flight insurance, and it is best to check the level of coverage the airline provides. Be aware that the insurance provided by the airline typically features many caveats. As always, please read the fine print before purchasing any insurance policy.
In the last two posts related to international travel health insurance, we looked at Staying Cool when Sick Abroad: Destination and Travel Health Insurance. Now that you have asked the questions you need answered, you are ready to decide on the coverage that you will need when traveling abroad.

Just from your research and questions, you probably have a good idea of what situations insurance plans will cover and what they will not. Remember to purchase insurance according to your need and situation. Just because Joe Smith is buying an adventurous sports policy does not mean that you need it.

Usually, a higher deductible translates into a lower premium. So, if you want to insure against just the major occurrences, you might consider purchasing a plan with a $500 or $1,000 deductible. If you do not want to take that risk, and would rather pay the extra premium (especially in case of trips shorter than two weeks), it might be worthwhile to consider a lower deductible instead.

Also, depending on your destination, you might want to look for the following: coverage for pre-existing conditions (some plans offer limited coverage for the sudden onset of these), adventurous sports coverage (especially for seaside resorts featuring many water activities), medical and political evacuation coverage, in-network hospitals (for cashless settlement), and repatriation of remains.

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International Medical Insurance - Short Term
International Health Insurance - Long Term
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