28 November 2018
Because I am asked many times and people seem recalcitrant when it comes to reading their coverage benefits, I will summarize how I combine insurance with travel. Everyone has their threshold for ‘emergency and what ifs’ and here is how this senior approaches those issues.
First, be aware of your existing coverage! You may have a lot more than you realize, or a lot less.
Second, pay for your travel with your existing coverage in mind.
Third, don’t assume that ANY insurance company thrives on the basis of paying your claims.
Fourth, know your rights and benefits and USE and DEMAND them!
There are basically three major kinds of coverage that I am concerned with. Such items as loss/theft, car rental, trip interruption and delay can also be covered in the below policies but my main concern are these three issues:
I utilize my credit cards to insure my travels both for interruption and cancellation. Most cards offer something in interruption but HOW MUCH and WHEN you can claim depends upon the card. It needs to be a major glitch in your travel before any delay/interruption benefits are forthcoming, like 6-12 hours.
Cancellation is more likely your concern. Again, I use my credit cards. The purchase of stand-alone cancellation insurance can be very expensive, amounting from 7 to 10 % the cost of the travel you insure.
With my Chase Sapphire Reserve card:
“Benefit Information for Trip Cancellation – Who is covered? You, the Primary Insured Person, and your Immediate Family Members are automatically covered. Immediate Family Member means your Spouse or Domestic Partner and their children, including adopted children or step-children; legal guardians or wards; siblings or siblings-in-law; parents or parents-in-law; grandparents or grandchildren; aunts or uncles; nieces or nephews. ”
“Coverage Amount/Period – Up to $10,000 per covered trip and a maximum limit of $20,000 per occurrence and a maximum benefit amount per 12-month period of $40,000…
Examples: A family of four charges a covered trip to their Chase card or pays with rewards earned on a Chase card for a covered trip that costs $6,000/person. If the family experiences a loss of $24,000 for the entire trip, the reimbursement would be $20,000, as that is the maximum limit per occurrence.”
My Chase United Explorer card recently reduced this same benefit to $1500 per trip thus making the card less valuable to me. I can still use it for those nonrefundable travel expenses that are within that amount.
My Citi AAdvantage World Elite Platinum Select now includes $5,000 coverage.
Thus, using my credit cards knowledgably, I can be covered for up to $16,000 nonrefundable expenses. I stress nonrefundable because no insurance I am aware of will pay for expenses/losses you cannot prove as nonrefundable.
Once on Medicare, and perhaps earlier depending upon your individual health insurance, benefits may be nonexistent when traveling out of country. But, again, you need to study your individual needs and existing benefits. Also, be aware of where you are traveling and THEIR medical facilities and availability. Many countries throughout Europe have free emergency medical care. Also, in some rare instances, medical and evacuation insurance is included in a tour price (though I do not recommend you ever purchase your plan from your tour company).
Medicare does not cover expenses out of country. However, my supplemental plan does covers $50,000 medical over my lifetime. Is this enough? When traveling in most developed countries, which btw may have better medical facilities than those within 100 miles of my home, I tend to rely on this insurance and that of my credit card.
My Chase Sapphire Reserve card: Emergency Medical and Dental Benefit includes
“a maximum of two thousand five hundred ($2,500.00) dollars (subject to a fifty ($50.00) dollar deductible) for medical expenses not paid or payable by Your medical insurance or other reimbursement incurred as a result of Emergency Treatment of a sickness or accidental injury occurring during the course of Your Trip.”
Who is covered? “You, a person to whom a United States (U.S.) credit card has been issued (“Cardholder”), and Your Immediate Family Members….”
When traveling in more isolated, less medically-convenient regions, I prefer to purchase additional medical insurance.
I search two sites: Insuremytrip.com and SquareMouth.com. I tend to favor SquareMouth. These sites are easy to shop for plans that are valid for your individual state of residence. Be aware, you are allowed to purchase ONLY the medical coverage for your trip. By entering $0 for the trip cancellation portion, the cost of the plan is considerably less.
Therefore, if I am traveling to countries of Africa or in less-developed countries where I am uncomfortable traveling without more insurance, I will purchase a plan that I feel best suits my needs. For example: a recent policy to cover a 20-day trip to Thailand covers $50K, secondary (so covers what my own insurance will not) for a cost of $60. A policy (Tin Leg) purchased at SquareMouth to cover my month in Uganda and Rwanda, offered $500,000 primary coverage and included any preexisting conditions cost $88.
If you require evacuation out of a particular area because of accident or illness, then you may incur expenses in the thousands. For very isolated travels, like to the Antarctic and even my planned trip to Romania, you are required to prove you have evacuation insurance. (Note, Medical Insurance will cover expenses getting you to the emergency and stabilized, but Evacuation is for getting you home if required.)
My Chase Sapphire Reserve card offers medical and evacuation up to $100K.
I also purchase an annual membership with DAN – Divers Alert Network. You are not required to be a diver. With an Individual membership of $35 a year ($55 family), coverage is provided 24 hours a day to those traveling at least 50 miles from home. Benefits payable for expenses incurred will not exceed “evacuation up to $100K, emergency cash advance $250, hospital advance $5K… Also pays for economy round-trip airfare for a visitor if you are traveling alone and require hospitalization for more than seven consecutive days.”
And in every medical plan I have seen, when you purchase medical insurance for travel, some level of evacuation benefit is included.
In the event of death? I have purchased a Neptune Society policy that with one phone call from my designated next-of-kin, the organization will remove, transport, cremate and send home remains from anywhere in the world.
Do I believe I am covered for the unexpected? In general, realizing insurance companies are not in the business to lose money, “yes”. In this business, one hardly knows for sure until it is needed. But, I do travel with confidence knowing what I know about my benefits and policies.