Travel Insurance Facts for International and Volunteer Travelers
During a normal workday, how easily does your mind drift away to your next vacation destination? Images of swaying palm trees, deserted beaches and mountainous terrain play in your mind’s eye on an endless loop. Or perhaps you visualize the smile on your students’ faces when they experience a new culture or the adrenaline rush of spotting a bottlenose dolphin during a conservation trip. No matter the scenery, dreaming of the possibilities is without a doubt one of the best parts of pre-travel preparations.
While not nearly as enjoyable as daydreaming of foreign lands, another “to do” on your list should be obtaining travel insurance. This step is vital to ensuring your trip is everything you’ve dreamt of. So, to get you back to that daydream as quickly as possible, we’ve constructed the following Frequently Asked Question list to highlight need-to-know details about travel insurance for international and volunteer travelers:
Note: This information is simply advice and should not be substituted for reading the fine print of an insurance policy to determine the exact details of a plan.
How exactly does travel insurance work and what does it actually cover?
Travel insurance is available for travelers seeking to protect their investment in an upcoming trip. After researching and selecting a plan, you as the customer will likely complete several mandatory forms from your provider.
You should then receive documentation from the insurance provider for your specific plan. Make sure to keep this with you at all times!
If any of the circumstances covered by your insurance occurs during your travels, it’s important to document the situation and report it promptly to the insurance company.
As for coverage, keep in mind that every travel insurance policy is different, but plans often provide reimbursement for things such as lost luggage, missed flights (including connections), car troubles, and stolen items, which is what makes travel insurance so crucial, especially for larger families. All of these situations can and do happen to travelers on a fairly regular basis. It goes without saying that having peace of mind is priceless.
Travelers have different priorities though, so thoroughly review potential plans to determine which is best for you. Some plans also have stipulations that cover some health-related situations, which leads into our next topic:
Travel insurance vs. Health insurance?
As stated above, there can be an overlap when it comes to travel and health insurance. What’s important to know is that travel insurance generally doesn’t cover routine medical check-ups, such as physicals. If you are worried about catching the flu while abroad, travel insurance can cover that, but you will need to pay special attention to the type of insurance you purchase (more on this below). What travel insurance does frequently cover are illnesses such as food poisoning that occur while traveling.
Discover Corps takes the safety of our travelers seriously, as we offer a complimentary $50,000 emergency medical evacuation insurance. So with this in mind, always pay attention to what insurance is offered when you travel with any travel company.
Credit cards offer insurance, will that suffice?
Many credit cards do offer some type of travel insurance if you purchase the trip with the card, but most of the time it is quite limited coverage. Smaller events such as theft or lost baggage can be covered. Some higher-profile credit cards have expanded options, but it’s a safe bet to not rely heavily on this option.
What plans do you recommend?
Discover Corps highly recommends the travel insurance company Travel Guard. Travel Guard offers several plans that range from Platinum down to Silver. We recommend Travel Guard’s Gold Plan as it’s their most comprehensive policy and provides a myriad of coverage including medical insurance, trip cancellation insurance, and a complete suite of assistance services while you travel. While this is not the only policy available, it is the most common policy purchased by our travelers.
All plans offered by Travel Guard can be purchased up until 24 hours prior to departure. However, certain plans like the Gold plan, allow for pre-existing medical condition waivers if you purchase within 15 days of making your deposit. Additionally, for families traveling, the Gold Plan covers children age 17 and under who are traveling with and related to the primary adult named on the enrollment form at no additional charge.
Click here for a quote on the Travel Guard Gold Plan.
How about seniors?
Getting travel insurance coverage for seniors can require further investigating, as many insurance providers view this demographic as a risk. While it may take some time and most likely additional costs compared to your younger counterparts, putting in the time now to research your options is a worthwhile endeavor.
One item to focus on is the terms for pre-existing conditions (PECs). Many companies will not offer coverage for this, but in some cases, you can procure a plan that does cover PECs.
Side note: If you’re wondering, Medicare rarely covers medical procedures outside the United States.
What else should I know?
According to AARP, travel insurance generally costs between 5-15% of the total cost of your trip. So make sure to account for this expense when budgeting for your vacation.
Keep your receipts! They are key to proving what you paid for and how much it cost.
What insurance tips have you learned from previous travels? Do you have a success story about using your travel insurance?