Do You Need Travel Insurance?

I travel a lot and the question about whether or not I need travel insurance for the trip ALWAYS COMES UP.

A’s Netter Rob Intelisano helped to clear up the situation. Read the following article that was written by Rob (The Insurance Doctor). I learned a lot and you will too.

The summer travel season kicked off this past Memorial Day weekend!  Over 3 million Americans planned to travel by air, besting predictions by the Federal Aviation Administration!

Many Americans are couped up and feeling the need to take a break and catch up on missed travel opportunities this summer.  Some are calling this the season of “Revenge Travel!” 

International travel has become riskier, as there are more variables such as testing Covid-19 positive and being mandated to quarantine in a foreign country well past your intended duration of stay.  For this reason, it is critical to explore travel insurance. 

There are many different variations of travel insurance policies.  From family vacations to extreme sports, to business travel, travel insurance policies provide travelers with peace of mind knowing they have an extra layer of protection from unforeseen circumstances during these tumultuous times!

One thing about travel and insurance is that every situation is different and unique.  Regular “Financial Wave” readers might remember I wrote a piece on this in the beginning of this year.

There are so many variables and questions to ask yourself, such as:

  1. What does my current health insurance cover?
  2. Will there be dangerous risks?
  3. What does my credit card cover?
  4. What about my pre-existing conditions?
  5. What about my medicare supplement or Medigap policy?
  6. Should I protect myself more now since I am older?
  7. Can I afford to self-insure this risk?

I decided to do a “deeper dive” into some of these important questions and interviewed Jerry Gonzalez, President of Dugan and Gonzalez Insurance, located in Ridgewood, Queens.

Hi Jerry, “my readers have questions about travel insurance during these uncertain times as protection is more important now than ever”. 

            Robert:  1. Jerry, what type of protection does my current health insurance policy provide me?

            Jerry:  First and foremost, always call and ask your broker or insurance carrier.  Changes are made to plans all the time, so what was once covered may not be covered now.  How you obtain insurance coverage has an impact on coverage extended to you.  Individual plans or Affordable Care Act exchange-based plans usually do NOT cover these types of claims!

Employer-based group plans usually do offer emergency coverage outside the USA, though the challenge doesn’t end there.  The foreign provider will expect payment upfront before services are rendered.  The coverage extended to you only provides reimbursement AFTER the claim is submitted, so the question you must ask yourself is, “Do I have access to enough funds to cover the cost of a medical emergency?”

Robert: 2. What about my Medicare or Medigap supplement policy? 

JerryMedicare supplement plans will cover up to 60 days of travel, up to $50,000 on your policy.  Medicare Advantage usually does NOT offer this coverage.  When coverage is available it is offered on a reimbursement basis once the claim is submitted.  This brings us back to the original question; “Do I have access to enough funds to cover the cost of a medical emergency?”

Robert: 3.  What about if I take dangerous risks?

Jerry:  When you are traveling and participating in extreme sports or high-risk activities, I would suggest looking into your coverage closely.  Ask questions about limits of the policy.  If you are working with a broker, outline the activities you plan to participate in making sure your coverage will cover those types of injuries.  There are policies designed specifically to handle emergency situations with concierge services to communicate with providers about coverage and payment.

Robert: 4. What about policy pre-existing conditions?

Jerry: Pre-existing conditions, depending on the policy, may present a challenge.  There are certain insurance carriers that underwrite the policy that may cover that condition for an additional premium, exclude the condition, or add a waiting period on covering that condition.  There are others that may provide a guaranteed issue policy and cover that regardless.  If you are concerned about a pre-existing condition, disclose it to the broker assisting you with the policy!

Robert: 5.  Do I need to buy travel or cancellation insurance?

Jerry: I would suggest that you do!  For an overseas trip, in this Covid-19 environment, I would say it is important.  For medical coverage on these policies, it is usually offered, and it is varied.  There may be different limits and conditions.  Usually, these policies are offered on a guaranteed-issue basis within a specified period, so they will usually cover pre-existing conditions.  You may have concerns about how they cover claims (reimbursement basis) and policy limits (dollar amounts).  I suggest obtaining a copy of the policy offered and submitting it to your broker for discussion. 

It is better to be safe than sorry during these times of uncertainty!