When an emergency happens and you’re in a foreign land what do you do? Do you speak the local language? Do you know which medical facilities are qualified to treat your medical needs? Do you have the financial means to satisfy the local providers? Why should I get international health insurance?
What if you are in a rural land, or even worse, one which doesn’t have medical providers that meet western standards of care? These are all very real problems for a person traveling abroad. Not knowing what to do or where to go could cost you your life. Do I need health insurance for travel?
So why do so many travelers still travel without insurance? You wouldn’t go away without your tickets or your passport, so why risk going away without a proper health insurance plan? Should I get travel health insurance?
Travel insurance is one of those things that you never want to understand the value of but, if you have to, you don’t want to regret having brushed off its importance. And it doesn’t matter if you’re traveling for a week, a year, or even just a day, the fact is, you never know what could happen. Having an international travel insurance policy which covers health and medical is absolutely essential. Do I need health insurance for travel?
The following are 10 reasons why traveling without international health insurance is a stupid idea. Because if you can’t afford to travel with health insurance you shouldn’t be traveling at all.
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Because Domestic Insurance Doesn’t Cover You Once You Leave the Country
Too many people are traveling and living abroad with the misunderstanding that their domestic health cover is going to take care of them in the event of a tragedy or medical emergency. But your regular health insurance won’t cover you while abroad. Reasons to get health insurance for travel.
So if you trip on a cobblestone street and break your nose, somehow trigger an asthma attack and can’t breathe, get hit by a Tuk Tuk in Asia, or even slip and break your back while on an Amazon cruise, not having medical insurance which specifically covers international travel, for lack of a better phrase, means you’re screwed. What is the best travel health insurance?
Because Some Countries Won’t Let You in Without It
Some countries are beginning to require health coverage as a mandatory condition of entry, meaning travelers no longer have the choice to travel without a plan. Can I travel without health insurance?
Expat hubs around the world are beginning to require mandatory health insurance before issuing a visa, and more and more countries are deciding to refuse entry without it. Many travelers don’t realize that without the correct insurance, they could be turned away from the destination they are visiting before they make it past airport arrivals.
Countries like Cuba and the United Arab Emirates have begun making health care mandatory for visitors and locals alike, and many other countries like Turkey, Qatar and France make proof of private health insurance part of the visa application for long stays. Is travel health insurance worth it?
Because The One Time You Don’t Have it is the One Time You’ll Actually Need to Use it
Been traveling with insurance for a few years but haven’t yet had to use it? Maybe you think that you may as well save a few dollars on your next trip because it’s not really something you’ve ended up needing in the past.
I honestly wouldn’t blame you. I thought that too. But Murpheys law dictates that the one time you choose to forgo your insurance is the one time you’ll actually need to use it. Like on my trip to the Solomon Islands in 2010 when the volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajökull happened and we got stuck in the country for an extra week. Or when I had an asthma attack in Budapest, I collapsed and my lips turned blue. How many people need travel health insurance?
Hundreds of thousands of tourists find themselves in the same position every year; purposely avoiding the hospital despite being in dire need of medical care, simply because they don’t have the budget to foot the hospital bill.
So even if you’ve never needed to rely on your health insurance overseas before, there’s no way of knowing that you’ll never need it at all.
Beacuse You’re Not Invincible
I’m sorry, but you’re not. It’s important to remember that we’re not invincible while traveling abroad, and the stupidest thing you can ever do is to think it will never happen to you. A good friend came back from the Solomon Islands one year with a broken arm from playing a casual game of football. My sister set herself on fire in Thailand during a fire breathing course.
And then there’s the Australian woman who passed out drunk in the streets of Canada and woke up with the most graphic and severe case of frostbite the world has ever seen. Literally, click through to that story – her fingers were swollen to the point of full size balloons, and she’s genuinely lucky to still have the use of her hands. Will I get sick overseas?
There are so many ridiculous war stories from the road that if you travel without health insurance thinking that you’re invincible you’re an outright fool. That’s not to dissuade you from traveling abroad, as life can catch you anywhere, including from the comfort of home. However it is to make you realize that having access to medical care where-ever you go is the smart thing to do. Why is international health insurance so important?
Because You Don’t Have to Be on an Adventurous Trip For Something to Go Terribly Wrong
Most people will take out international health insurance if they’re heading out on an adventurous trip, because surely, if something was ever to happen, it’s likely to be during a zany adventure.
But you don’t have to be on an adventurous trip for something to go terribly wrong, and one of the most adventurous travelers in the world proved this earlier in the year when he slipped and broke his back during an Amazon comfort cruise. Can I get way without having travel health insurance?
The world’s favorite adventure travel couple, Deb and Dave of the Planet D, have an impressive resume of extreme adventures, so getting hurt on a cruise made for birdwatching, village visits, and daily boat rides out to explore the “calm tributaries of the Amazon River” wasn’t something any-one saw coming. But it happened. Do I really need medical insurance for travel?
Things happen when you least expect it, and you don’t need to be taking a crazy adventurous trip to find yourself in an emergency situation. So if you’re not traveling with health insurance because you don’t think your trip is adventurous enough, you’re a fool. Why is travel medical insurance a good idea?
Because You Might Forget to Shut Your Mouth in the Shower
People often take their drinking water for granted. In most western countries we don’t think twice before grabbing a glass and sticking it underneath a tap. But when you’re traveling the tap water may not be safe to drink.
You need drinking water no matter where you go, but with travellers diarrhea, giardia, hepatitis A, typhoid and cholera among the illnesses that can be transmitted with bad water, it pays to know which parts of the world guarantee clean, safe tap water, and where you should be sourcing bottled water instead.
But it’s not just the water that you drink, and while travelers might steer clear of drinking unsafe water while overseas, people usually don’t think twice about brushing their teeth with water from the tap, keeping their mouth closed in the shower, or accepting ice in their drinks.
Also, and this gets many travelers, if you can’t drink the water, don’t eat the salad either. These are just little tips for not ingesting unsafe drinking water abroad, because otherwise you could get really sick.
Because You Could Be Visiting a High Altitude Destination
If there is one thing we learnt from our time in La Paz, it was that altitude sickness doesn’t discriminate, and it can hit anyone at any time.
When you’re traveling to altitudes over 2,500 metres (8,000 ft) high, your lungs need time to adjust to reduced oxygen and breathing thinner air. Otherwise altitude sickness kicks in. And this be life threatening if you don’t take the time to properly acclimatize. Which travel health insurance should I buy?
Travelers to the Himalayas, Tibet, Nepal, the Andes, Mount Kilimanjaro and Mount Kenya, the Rocky Mountains, or those taking on famous treks like Everst Base Camp and the Inca Trail should be aware of this. Other high altitude destinations also include Cochabamba in Bolivia, Bogota in Colombia, Quito in Ecuador, and Cuzco in Peru. Cheap travel health insurance.
Because No Country is Safe From Terrorism
Terrorism is something we try not to think about as travelers. And it’s certainly not something we jump to promote in our attempts to inspire others to take that life changing trip around the world. But even though various articles online put your chances of being caught up in a terrorist attack at roughly a 1 in 20 million, that doesn’t mean terrorism isn’t real. In fact it’s very real. Global terrorism is a fact. Good value travel health insurance.
With more people traveling for business and leisure, and attacks occurring literally across the globe, some people are going to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Though sadly, too many insurers have a blanket exclusion for all terrorist activities, refusing to pay out on emergencies or injuries related to terrorist attacks. Medical insurance overseas.
So when signing up for a policy, make sure you have insurance which covers your health and medical costs in the event of a terrorist attack, like #GeoBlue.
You need to read the fine print, find out what your exclusions are, and you NEED to find a plan which does not restrict illness or injuries resulting from a terror attack, as well as one which covers post departure if your trip is shortened or interrupted for medical reasons, a terrorist event or imminent threat to personal safety.
Because Some HealthCare Systems Will Bleed You Dry
If you find yourself in a life threatening situation overseas often you’re not going to be able to afford treatment on your own. The cost of health care within the United States for instance is so high that “any visitor without insurance plays with fire”. What is covered under travel health insurance?
Data recently released by the World Health Organization and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development puts the average cost of a routine appendix removal in the US at $8,156, in comparison to $3,408 in the UK, $2,245 in Spain and $953 in Argentina.
Though bear in mind that hospital bills, even in developing countries can be outrageous and put you into serious debt. Five days in South Africa for one traveler for a broken arm and a shared ward reached close to $10,000.
Because If You Pass Away, Someone Needs to Fly Your Body Home
Morbid, sure. And honestly, this is not something people like to think about. But when I contacted my insurer at GeoBlue for information, they informed me that “this is actually a subject that most people simply do not want to talk about but it does happen more than you would think, especially in the Senior Community. It is a sad benefit to have to deliver but it does happen.”
Repatriation of remains is a benefit of insurance which is pretty straight forward. This benefit allows individuals to prepare for the worst and is designed to cover the costs associated with returning your body to your home country if you were to pass away.
Luckily, unlike terrorism coverage, the benefit for repatriation of remains will usually already be included in your travel insurance plan. Though as with every other post we’ve composed on insurance to date, I urge you to ALWAYS read the fine print of your policy, and make sure you’re aware of the benefits and exclusions which are associated with your policy.
This type of benefit generally will not cover the transportation of anyone accompanying the body, nor will it cover burial or funeral expenses.
So Take Out Extensive Coverage
We highly recommend going through Tim Jennings at Individual Health for insurance with #GeoBlue – an exceptional worldwide insurer with a network of elite doctors in over 180 countries and a hugely helpful mobile app for quick and easy access to quality care for anything from emergency needs, to filling a simple prescription, to translating your symptoms, to finding the right doctor at home or abroad.
Contact Tim Jennings at firstname.lastname@example.org or click for a free quote.
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Photo credits: Stitched up nose at Angkor Wat by Who Needs Maps. Torn ACL by A Southern Gypsy. Gnarly bus crash by The Hungry Partier. Bolivian Amazon by Mapping Megan. Travelrs guide to tap water photos from top to bottom by Gary Edenfield, Sacca & DFID. Traveler collecting water in a bucket from a village tap by Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. La Paz by Mapping Megan. Terrorism images by Mapping Megan & kris krüg. Urn by Mapping Megan. Helicopter by U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK).