Group Tours: What to Ask Before You Sign Up
Health Precautions When Traveling

Travel Insurance Insider's Tips

By guest blogger Brianne Wheeler
Part one of two-part series on travel insurance and precautions to take

Since the September 11 attacks, many travelers and group travel organizers have become increasingly concerned with their health and safety while away from home. As a result, many companies have launched travel protection products to give travelers peace of mind.

Here are common travel insurance options for individuals and groups, plus tips for finding what's right for you:

Medical Evacuation: Provides emergency transportation for a traveler who has a medical emergency, which is especially important when traveling to remote areas.  Medical evacuation membership programs offer an array of additional benefits, such as lost luggage compensation and guaranteed hospital admission.

The fine print:

  • Nearest Appropriate Facility: With this coverage, you are likely not going to be transported to your home hospital, but rather to the nearest clinic or hospital that the insurance company deems adequate. You can also look for coverage that provides transportation to the home or specialty hospital of your choice. Independent medical evacuation services, as opposed to comprehensive travel protection policies, often provide this option.
  • Coverage Limits: If a group of travelers purchases a plan covering $20,000 of medical evacuation per person and one of the travelers has a medical emergency with a cost to evacuate of $75,000, the patient is responsible for covering the remaining $55,000.  Be sure to purchase coverage that is unlimited or has a very high dollar limit.

Travel Health Insurance: These policies typically cover expenses that a traveler may incur from being in the hospital or seeing a physician while traveling. Coverage may also include benefits such as trip interruption, trip cancellation, travel delay, extreme sports and identity theft assistance. Note: Coverage may also include medical evacuation coverage, but several companies offer medical evacuation as an independent service.

The fine print:

  • Trip Cancellation Coverage: Before purchasing trip cancellation, make sure you know what the limitations are. For example, if a group of surfers plan a trip to Florida and a hurricane hits three days before their departure, most companies require that they cancel prior to the storm being officially named. Outside of bad weather, some policies will allow you to cancel for any reason; however, many only let you cancel for personal or family medical reasons.
  • Terrorism Coverage: With the recent political unrest around the globe, some companies have listened to travelers' concerns and expanded coverage to include benefits for travelers who are injured victims of a terrorist act. You'll want to ensure your coverage includes this benefit.

Although, thankfully, the majority of people travel to and from their destination with no medical emergencies or other issues, it's nice to have peace of mind and protection from unforeseen events. A tip for groups: purchase coverage together because groups usually receive discounted rates. Finally, here's a list of travel preparations and risks in various regions of the globe. Bon voyage!

Brianne Wheeler is the Assistant Marketing Manager for Travel Assist Network, a global medical services company that provides medial evacuation, travel protection, and critical information services to travelers worldwide. It also provides custom protection for corporations, travel groups, and non-profit organizations tailored to meet each group's coverage needs.

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