Uh Oh! Why You Need International Travel Health Insurance

We know that many people travel on a budget.  In fact, we are one of them.  So we understand why so many people think “why pay extra for insurance? I’ll be careful and nothing will happen.”  But the reality is, saving a few bucks each day on travel insurance is not worth it if there really is a problem during your trip.  Honestly, the thing to remember is that travel health insurance isn’t for the expected…it’s for the unexpected!  And no matter how careful you are, there is no telling when disaster could strike.

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“Creative Commons Medical/Surgical Operative Photography” by Phalinn Ooi is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Travel Insurance is For More Than Missing Baggage

We’ve all heard the horror stories.  Yet we always think it won’t happen to us.  I remember a friend telling me about arriving in Europe for a lengthy cruise, and her luggage didn’t arrive.  When the airline found her bags, they said they would bring them to her in a couple days — but she would be on a boat by then, and possibly in another country!

The airline didn’t want to forward her luggage onto her next destination to meet her.  So luckily, her travel insurance kicked in and she was able to work with them to sort out forwarding her luggage so didn’t have to deal with it…or pay for it!

But it’s more than luggage.  Sure, most of us have had luggage go missing at some point – and we are usually lucky to recover it (although not everyone).  The real issue is when it comes to your health.  It’s not fun to think about something bad happening to you, but the reality is that you just cannot predict it!

SURPRISE!  Your Home Health Insurance Doesn’t Cover You Abroad

One of the most common excuses I hear when people talk about travel health insurance is that their personal medical insurance at home will cover them.  WRONG!  Very rarely do US healthcare providers cover people who travel abroad.  

Scary huh?!?

You could be risking it the moment you step foot in another country.  You definitely don’t want to be caught in an unexpected situation and NOT be covered.  That’s why you need to look into buying international travel health insurance.

Horror Stories to Keep in Mind!

Those of us who travel to exotic destinations, or just read about it, are likely to encounter a few horror health stories.  Usually they fall along the lines of mosquito borne illnesses such as Dengue Fever, or stomach trouble from bad food hygiene or even some kind of food poisoning.

In fact, we once sat by a girl on a flight to between Siem Reap and Kuala Lumpur who was telling us all about the her terrible experience from spending the previous week in a hospital from eating bad fish.  She was finally well enough to make her way back home to Australia.  And even our own friends Donny and Tamra from Turtles Travels have quite the story about their experience in a Cambodian hospital.

While those stories are not good by any means, it seems that they aren’t serious enough for some travelers to take action and be prepared with travel insurance.  However, one story really hit us one day last year — from one of our most admired adventure blogging couples, Dave and Deb.

At the last minute, Dave decided to grab the flash for his camera. It was darker in the jungle than expected and if we were to capture pictures of scorpions or tarantulas, it may come in handy. He ran back to the boat while I waited with the group. Within seconds I heard a shriek. – The Planet D (Airlifted from the Amazon, Our Worst Travel Fear Realized)

In a split second, this well-traveled and experienced adventure couple had their travels thrown into a loop deep in the Amazon when Dave actually slipped on a ladder and broke is back!  How horrific does that sound — having a broken back in the Amazon?!?!

Luckily Dave & Deb had some really great travel health insurance.  It made their terrible situation SO much better because they were’t so worried about costs and making the arrangements.  Their travel insurance company helped them immensely.

Then It Happened to Us — OK, Not a Broken Back (Thankfully)

Brokenn foot, good spirits

Even if you are a careful traveler, one who doesn’t go hiking or trekking in to the Amazon, accidents happen…just ask Liz.  One of the most mundane tasks turned our summer travels upside down, when Liz broke her foot in China while simply walking from a metro station exit to a bus stop!  During that simple 5 minute walk, she was avoiding some crowds and accidentally stepped in a hole she didn’t see through crowds of people.  That simple misstep caused a fracture that sent her to a Chinese hospital and kept her off her foot for 1 month solid!

Add another month on crutches and a few more follow up visits to the hospital, and that simple walk turned into quite the experience.  We were lucky though, because we had travel health insurance and it wasn’t life threatening.

But imagine if it was?  Would we want to stay in China, or go somewhere else for treatment?

Types of Travel Insurance & Costs

Honestly, travel insurance isn’t that expensive when you consider how much your entire trip costs, and how much you could end up spending if a disaster happened. There are many types of travel insurance policies that have different coverage and prices to meet your specific budget and needs.

MEDEX Travel Insurance

  • Trip Cancellation / Interruption / Lost Luggage, etc. – this kind of travel insurance really isn’t that expensive.  You could only be paying a few bucks a day. And having had lost luggage and flight cancellations in the past, we can tell you that it is a huge relief knowing that we have some protection and can get reimbursed for unexpected expenses during our trip.
  • Travel Medical Insurance – there are a wide variety of travel health insurance options out there, and we HIGHLY recommend that you purchase one.  Key things to consider with travel medical insurance is the deductible, coverage amounts, hospital options, family-member sickness, and repatriation of remains (bummer to think about…but important!).  Be sure to look at the coverage levels — as well as the coverage options for transporting you to the nearest APPROVED hospital!


Read More About Liz breaking her foot in China

You may choose to buy these two types of travel insurance separately, or you can often bundle them together through the same provider. MEDEX is a highly reputable company that offers a variety of affordable travel medical insurance plans, as well as options for trip cancellation, interruption and lost luggage.

Peace of Mind for You AND Your Family!

The final thing to keep in mind about purchasing international travel health insurance is the peace of mind that comes with it.  It’s a much better experience when you know you are covered in case of an emergency, and heaven forbid if an actually emergency happened, imagine how much better you will feel having help!  I can’t imagine going through something more serious than a broken foot and having to stress about costs, flights and hospitals, evacuations, etc.  That would just be terrible to experience on top of everything else.

Lastly, in the extremely unfortunate event that something truly tragic happens, the last thing you want is to put your family members at home in the awful situation of having to pay for you (or your remains) to get back home.  I know it’s not something you want to think about before a trip, but honestly, that’s not something you want your family to have to deal with afterwards either.

So do yourself and your family a favor, and be prepared by purchasing an international travel health insurance plan.
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“Creative Commons Inauguracao do Servico de Hepatologia do Hospital das Clinicas” by Fotos GOVBA is licensed under CC BY 2.0


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