Is Travel Insurance a Waste of Money?

The world just keeps getting smaller and smaller and global commerce is becoming more and more common. China, India and other emerging economies are now targeted by the U.S. and other western corporations in hopes of  expanding their market. Business travelers are now frequently traveling to Africa, South America and the Middle East. Vacationers and leisure travelers are always looking for new and exotic travel destinations. Let’s face it, we are more mobile now than ever in human history. Thankfully, in most cases, international travel is completed without incident. However, in some cases an international leisure or business trip can become a nightmare if you do not have the right travel insurance plan.

People ask me all the time, “Is travel insurance a waste of money?” The answer is a resounding NO. For the money spent, the coverage is absolutely worth while. Imagine you are on your dream vacation in South America and you become ill after eating out at a local seafood restaurant. In America you would probably first call your doctor and then maybe go to the hospital if the condition worsened. A doctors visit and a trip to the ER is most definitely covered by your domestic insurer but what about in South America, Africa, Europe or other countries? In most cases, you are not covered at all or the amount of reimbursement is greatly reduced. On another note, most doctors and hospitals abroad will not even entertain the idea of being reimbursed by your domestic insurance and will most certainly require payment in full. A serious condition could leave you with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills that have to be paid. What about finding quality medical care in say, China? Unfortunately, your network of doctors and hospitals under your PPO or HMO does not extend to China. In some cases, international travel insurance plans offer an international network of pre-certified doctors, clinics and hospitals that will accept direct payment form your international insurer. This way, you don’t even have to pay out of pocket and wait to get get reimbursed later.

To me, the thought of being treated by a foreign doctor in a foreign land is frightening. What school did this doctor attend? Do they even speak your language? Is he or she trained in western medicine? If you have a travel plan that comes with an international network of doctors hospitals and clinics, you know that you are receiving quality care. Otherwise you are relying on the hotel concierge, your cab driver or a person walking down the street to offer you advice on a “good doctor.” What about if you are in a serious accident and need to be flown to another facility for life saving surgery? This is a terrible thought but it happens every day while folks are on vacation or traveling on business across the globe. Emergency medical evacuation services can cost from $30,00 to $50,000 or more for a single  trip. And guess what? It’s not covered by your domestic insurance plan. However, most quality travel insurance plans cover this event but you have to be careful in selecting a plan that does not put major restrictions on this benefit.

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