Travel Insurance Checklist: The Essentials You Must Have

With credit card suppliers and employer/retiree benefit plans all offering out-of-country travel insurance, you need to know what the essentials are when looking for coverage. Finding yourself stranded in a foreign country with inadequate coverage may ruin you financially.  Here’s what you need to have. Don’t compromise.

Many credit card and employer/retiree plans cover you for only a short time—15 to 25 days for credit cards, maybe up to 40 for employer/retiree plans. Don’t assume they will cover you for as long as you want to travel.  Know their limitations.

The only plans that guarantee you cover for the precise number of days you specify are the stand-alone, dedicated private plans sold by travel insurance companies—often through brokers, banks, motor leagues, membership associations, credit unions, and directly by the companies themselves.

Most offer the following benefits (this is the minimum we recommend).

·         At least $1 million in coverage for emergency medical benefits: many will go as high as $5 million.

·         All inclusive hospital and medical services—no exceptions but for the deductibles you may select.  And choosing deductibles is a smart choice as they can significantly lower your premiums.

·         Direct payments to out-of-country hospitals and doctors. You don’t want to be responsible for paying foreign providers any large amounts without your insurer getting involved. They can get much larger discounts on services than you can.

·         Air ambulance repatriation to a hospital in your home province if medically necessary. This is absolutely essential as an air ambulance can easily cost $25,000 for a repatriation from Florida or Arizona to Canada—three times that for a repat from Europe.

·         Return of your car or other vehicle from your vacation home to Canada if you can’t drive or are airlifted back due to a medical emergency.

  • Paying for a close family member or relative to your hospital bedside if you need assistance and if it’s medically necessary.
  • A card clearly identifying your insurer, its emergency assistance service, and how that service can be contact 24/7 to verify your coverage.  Don’t accept only a telephone number. That’s just not acceptable.  Hospitals must be able to clearly and immediately confirm your coverage. Don’t make it difficult for them or they may require you to put up very large cash or credit card deposits.

Check out your credit card plans or you retiree benefits to see if they offer all of these benefits.  And ask to see those benefits in print.  A verbal assurance is not good enough.

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