Making sure that you buy the right medical travel insurance product

Lot of my clients, who have known me for over 20 years, will read this blog. They have stayed with me, many have become good friends because I am always objective in my advice. For me, clients come ahead of any brand I represent. It will remain so.

So here is some relevant advice in the area of selecting the right medical travel insurance while travelling abroad. Especially for senior citizens or the Elderly.

Understanding Medical Travel Insurance

Travel insurance covers all financial costs in case one were to face an emergency during travel. It costs very little but if the need were to arise it saves a lot. So always make sure that you purchase travel insurance for your parents or Elders travelling to your resident country be it Singapore, USA, UK, Dubai or anywhere else in the world. 

Almost all travel insurance products end up excluding one situation or the other, which one can cover by paying an additional premium. 

In case of medical emergency expenses in a foreign land and hospitalisation can be prohibitively expensive. 

Travel insurance plans cover your parents for all medical eventualities including: 

  1. Expenses of hospitalisation, loss of baggage and other incidental expenses.
  2. Trip cancellation, trip curtailment and even burglary of your home for the duration of your parent’s trip to you

If you have bought the right product and chosen the brand well usually there's a quick disbursement of claims. It is important to note that a travel insurance policy may or may not include pre-existing medical conditions and every policy will vary according to the travel insurance company and the insured person. 

So when you purchase a policy you need to know what is covered under your policy.

Some travel insurance may cover you generally, but with pre-existing conditions excluded. This is obviously preferred if your existing condition causes you significant problems or leaves you at risk. Other travel insurance policies will cover pre-existing conditions if you buy coverage within a short time after booking your travel. 

What all is covered?

Here is a quick look into what all is covered in medical travel insurance products. Needless to add that you have to carry out a very specific product review to know what is “specifically” covered. 

  • Emergency medical expenses: Cost of medicine and procedures are covered. The extent of coverage of how much is covered will depend on the policy. 
  • Emergency dental expenses: Dental expenses in most developed countries can be very high and can exceed your budget-trip itself. Medical travel policies do cover emergency dental situations.
  • Medical evacuation: Medical travel insurance policies cover evacuation out of a distressing situation with emergency medical evacuation via air/surface to the nearest hospital in your home country.
  • Hospital daily cash allowance: Unfortunately, the petty hospitalisation expenses can eat into your trip money but buying appropriate medical travel insurance which does reimburse those little expenses as well is advisable.
  • Medical & Body Repatriation Cost of transferring the mortal remains to the home country.
  • Accidental death In case of accidental death provides a lump-sum compensation to your family.
  • Permanent Disablement provides a lump-sum compensation to your family.
  • Hotel Accommodation: extended hotel accommodation while you recover from your medical emergency.

Let me go beyond medical travel insurance and cover some more ground on other relevant areas, which require coverage during international travel. Afterall often Elders travel on their own. 

Baggage-related coverage

  • Loss of Baggage & Personal Documents: a reimbursement for the expenses incurred for getting a duplicate/ new passport in a foreign land.
  • Loss of checked-in baggage: Compensation for the loss of your checked-in baggage. 
  • Delay of checked-in baggage: reimbursement of essentials while thing gets sorted.

Journey-related coverage

  • Personal liability: Compensation for liability arising out of mistake resulting in any third party damage.
  • Financial Emergency Assistance: provide emergency cash in case of robbery, theft, or dacoity.
  • Hijack Distress Allowance: compensation for you for the distress caused. 
  • Flight delay: reimbursement for essential purchases.

It is important for us to know what’s not included?

  • Breach of Law: Any sickness or health issues caused due to war or a breach of the law is excluded.
  • Consumption of intoxicants: consumption of intoxicant or banned substances.
  • Pre existing diseases: If one is suffering from a disease before travel or have undergone treatment for an existing illness chance are it will not get covered. Do check your travel insurer.
  • Cosmetic and Obesity Treatment: cosmetic or obesity treatment.
  • Self Inflicted Injury: Suicide attempts. 
  • Adventure Sports: injury caused due to an adventure sport remains uncovered.

Even if you are willing to forgo all other types of international travel insurance, no one should ignore medical evacuation coverage. 

A medical evacuation is often a chartered trip for a patient who is not well enough to return home by other means to better facilities or to their home country. 

Though the need is rare, its costs can be devastating to savings. On-balance, the cost of coverage for it is not terribly great. It typically involves traveling with medical personnel looking after you throughout return home, along with any needed equipment, medications, etc. 

You can  easily get the global travel insurance with all the above said features, as low as SGD 5 per day for a coverage of USD 1 Lakhs for a period of 30 days (Including US & Canada)

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Vivek Mehra

Quintessential people's person Vivek is a problem solver. A man of action, here he has been coerced to write, to share his incredible experience in insurance, building franchise and people management.