Wanderlust varies from person to person, but it’s safe to say that if you’re reading this article then you’ve been searching travel sites lately for your next trip and are wondering if you should get travelers health insurance, trip insurance or evacuation insurance.
In short. Yes. Why? Because things go wrong. Not that we want them to. They just do. The very nature of travel is an adventure and all adventures carry some degree of risk, so we need to be prepared.
Anything from an infected reef cut, picked up during that Hawaiian holiday to a collision with a scooter in Rome can change your well-thought out plans very quickly.
After anguishing mentally on planning the perfect trip, stretching every dollar in your travel budget as far as you can to cram as much adventure into your trip as possible, you’ll have lots and lots of questions. Will my USA health insurance cover me abroad? Can I afford travelers health insurance? How much does it really cost? Is travel insurance worth the money? OK. Let’s break it down…
Most health insurance plans won’t cover you once you leave your home country or the coverage will be limited (but double check with them first). If you come back with a staph infection or intestinal parasite then you can receive treatment from your usual primary care physician. They won’t turn you away for bringing back a bacterial souvenir. The problem arises when you need that medical attention right away and on the spot far away from home. While some regular insurance plans cover this, submitting claims and getting reimbursed can cause more pain than your injuries.
To avoid a 12-hour plane ride home with gastric cramping or a painful hairline fracture, it’s best to get treatment where you are and that easiest way to do that is to have some international insurance. Be safe and cover yourself, it’s cheaper than you think. Best case scenario is that you won’t use the plan and be out a few bucks. Plus you will have freed up your trip from the weighted anxiety of “what if something happens to me.” With travel insurance you are free from that mental baggage.
So how much does it cost? Not that much. There are many affordable, easy-to-access health travel plans out there. If you are a value-oriented consumer and choose a smart plan without heaps of random travel add-ons (like coverage for luggage that only gets damaged by airport trolleys, but not cab rides) then you can expect to pay a very small percentage of your total trip price.
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There are lots of options in the health travel insurance market. One of the cheaper and more simple travel insurance plans is GeoBlue. For example, if you’re a 25-year-old Californian going to Costa Rica for the week (yes you can buy travel insurance for just one week) then you could expect to pay as little as $8.50 for a week’s worth of coverage. On that package your deductible would be $500 and your medical limit would be $50,000. However, for about $15 you can score a no deductible plan with a million dollar medical limit. Not a bad investment for the cost of just a few lattes.
OK, so you’re covered for short trips, but what about those extended trips? How much does travel insurance cost for a month to three months? The answer is that it costs even less.
The same coverage plan for a one month trip runs $30 and $52 respectively. If you’re gone for three months, and thereby increasing the likelihood of injuring yourself or getting sick, then expect to pay about $100 for the low-end plan and $165 for the full plan, or just $1.83 per day.
The above rates are through the GeoBlue program which is one of the better short term health insurance options for travellers. The plans also cover most pre-existing conditions.
The system works with a global network of GeoBlue approved physicians. The company takes away even more of the worry by offering 24/7 customer support and it’s all easily navigated with a mobile app that lets you access the nearest physician.
A lot of travellers worry about hidden costs and the paper trail associated with an overseas medical incident. With the above plan the claims are paperless and the doctors get paid directly from the company. Also if you find that in the rush to leave for your trip you’ve neglected to purchase health travel insurance, you can still purchase it within one day of departure.
So is medical travel insurance worth it? Yes. It’s worth it so you can just relax and focus on being in the moment, enjoying your trip. And most likely, nothing will go wrong, but if you tumble on a loose cobblestone in Copenhagen it’s good to know that you’re covered. Because the very nature of travel is adventure and all adventures carry some amount of risk.