Travel Medical Insurance, a Closer Look

Author: Ken Vandiver

Have you ever wondered exactly why a Travel Medical Insurance policy might be beneficial to you? There are benefits which every Travel Medical Insurance plan should have. Some of these benefits will be missing from some of the cheapest plans but we are going to look at the better travel medical insurance plans. Most of us have to save for quite a while for our vacation and don't really want it ruined because we saved a few dollars on Travel Medical Insurance?

All Travel Medical Insurance plans should allow you to select the Deductible you want, these deductibles usually range from $0 to $2,500. The lower the deductible the higher the premium is the general rule. You should pick the deductible you are most comfortable with. Keep in mind that a deductible of $0 versus $250 should result in a $10 or $11 dollar higher premium  for 2 people on a 2 week trip. Personally I usually go with the $0 deductible as it will cost less than a dollar a day. When selecting your Policy Maximum be sure to look at the policy brochure to see how the maximum will effect certain benefits. Also keep in mind that the higher the maximum the higher the premium. Normally the maximums go from $50,000 to $2,000,000. Usually I like to select the $0 deductible with a policy maximum of $500,000 to $1,000,000. The reason is that if something does happen on my trip I want my travel medical insurance company to handle any payments necessary. Remember too that many of the benefits are based on the policy maximum so it should be high enough to handle anything which might happen. In my opinion these are the best options for the price.

All of the Travel Medical Insurance companies I have seen have a network of  Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO). If an illness or injury does occur remember it is always best to coordinate any treatment with the insurance provider, especially in the U.S. Using these PPO providers will usually result in lower co-pays if any are required. When traveling overseas find out ahead of time who the providers are in the countries you will be visiting. The insurance provider should have a list of the PPO Network on-line. Always use them if possible.

Now let's take a closer look at the benefits you can expect with a good Travel Medical Insurance plan. Let's base our inspection of the benefits on the Patriot Travel Medical Insurance plan from IMG. We'll use a trip for 2 people in their mid 30's with a $0 deductible and a policy maximum of $500,000. The premium for this plan is just under $51 dollars for an international trip and excludes coverage in the U.S. and Canada. Considering all the benefits with this plan I think that everyone will agree that this is a good plan to have.
There is a Coinsurance clause which has no co-pay if treatment is received outside the U.S. and Canada. If the treatment is received within the U.S. and Canada plan will pay from 80% to 100% of the first 5,000 of eligible expenses. The percentage depends of whether or not the treatment was received by a provider within the PPO Network (90%) or outside of the PPO Network (80%).

*URC = usual, reasonable and customary charges
Hospital Room and Board expenses are paid up to the Policy Maximum. Some other plans will penalize you if the Hospital is not Pre-Certified.
Intensive Care URC paid up to Policy Maximum.
Medical Expenses up to Policy Maximum. Some plans will specify amounts for specific items like Physical Therapy, just read the Benefits carefully.
Outpatient Medical expenses URC up to Policy Maximum.
Local Ambulance up to Policy Maximum. With other plans it might be URC and some will set a limit, for example 5,000 maximum.
Prescription Drugs up to Policy Maximum. Other plans might not specifically say it covers prescription drugs but will include them in other eligible medical expenses, again read the brochure.
Emergency Room accident up to Policy Maximum, again some plans don't mention this separately.
Emergency Illness with In-Patient admission up to Policy Maximum, some plans don't separate this.
Emergency Illness without in-Patient admission up to Policy Maximum with additional deductible of $250. This could be different with other plans.
Dental, acute onset of pain limited to $100 whereas injury due to an accident will go to the Policy Maximum. Other plans might have a monetary limit.
Emergency Evacuation up to $500,000 independent of the Policy Maximum. Some policies will be less or might depend on the Policy Maximum.
Emergency Reunion up to $50,000. Some plans will set a much lower limit. What is this? "When Emergency Medical Evacuation or Repatriation is ordered and the attending Physician recommends that a family member travel with You or be with you after the evacuation, the plan will arrange and pay, up to some predefined amount, for a round trip economy-class transportation, lodging and meal costs for one individual or family member of Your choice, from Your Home Country, to be at Your side while You are hospitalized.". This definition will vary from plan to plan.
Return of Mortal Remains up to $50,000. Some plans could be less. 
Return of Minor Children up to 50,000. Some plans limit it to 5,000. What does this mean? "When hospitalized for more than 36 hours due to a covered illness or injury and covered children under 18 years will be left unattended as a result, the plan will cover the transportation cost for the children to return home."
Political Evacuation up to $50,000. Some plans limit it to 10,000 others don't cover this at all. What is a political evacuation? "If after your arrival at your destination the U.S. government issues a travel warning for your destination country, the plan will coordinate your alternate departure arrangements from that country and cover the associated costs."
Benefit Period up to 6 months. What exactly is this? "If a covered illness or injury requires continuing treatment after the Policy expires, the 6 month benefit period may provide continued coverage so that there has been 6 months of continuous coverage for the injury or illness." Some plans do not have this benefit.
Incidental Home Country Coverage for when you return to your home country for incidental visits up to cumulative 2 weeks but not if you return solely for treatment for an injury or illness incurred while traveling.
End of Trip Home Country Coverage up to a maximum of 2 months may be purchased for every 5 months of continuous coverage.
Common Carrier AD&D will pay $50,000 with a maximum per family usually 250,000. Some plans pay less for children under 18. 
Sports & Activities will pay up to Policy Maximum for basic, non-contact sports. Exactly what is covered will vary from company to company.
ADS&D pays $25,000 for loss of life or loss of 2 members and 50% for loss of 1 member. Some plans will pay less for children under 18 and for Insureds over 69.
Terrorism up to $50,000 lifetime maximum. Other companies will pay URC up to Policy Maximum. Normally it covers eligible medical claims. This is only covered in most cases if an advisory is issued by the US Government and the insured unreasonably fails or refuses to leave the country. Some plans do not cover, again be sure to read the brochure.
Identity Theft will pay up to $500. The theft of identity must occur during the period of coverage and be reported within 6 months of the termination of the coverage. Read the brochure for more details.
Natural Disaster up to $100 per day for 5 days. Some plans do not cover except as part of the Trip Interruption benefit. Read the brochure for details. 
Trip Interruption up to $5,000. This is pretty normal. On some plans this will pay when it is caused by natural disaster.
Lost Luggage up to $50 with a $250 maximum. Some plans only specify the $250 limit.
Indemnity will pay $100 per night of a required stay in a hospital (U.S. citizens). The purpose of this is to offset the costs of basic necessities not provided by some hospitals. Some plans will pay $150.
Sudden Recurrence of Pre-Existing Condition up to $15,000 (U.S. citizens). Some plans will pay up to $20,000 but only $2,500 if 65+.

All Travel Medical Insurance plans have additional Options available to add to your plan as well as other cost-free benefits. These are the options available for IMG's Patriot Travel Medical Insurance plan.

Options available include: Adventure Sports rider, Enhanced AD&D rider, Citizenship Return rider. Be sure to read the brochure for the details of the optional riders.

Cost-free benefits included: Online access to a service, MyIMG, that allows you to access information and manage your account. The type of information might include benefit explanation, provider location, request an ID card, start a pre-certification, get certification documents and maybe even recommend a provider/facility.

Pharmacy Discounts for participating pharmacies in the U.S.

IMG also has a special department, Akesco Care Management (ACM), for your use in coordinating care and provide medical management services. The staff consists of qualified Doctors and nurses who are experts at assessing the need for services. There are multi-lingual personnel available for you to talk to.

Well that wraps up our discussion of Travel Medical Insurance Benefits. Sorry it was so long but I really didn't want to leave out anything crucial. I do want you to remember that every plan is at least a little different than every other plan. That's why you need to always read the brochures that should be available when you are online shopping for a good Travel Medical Insurance plan.

Also remember that there are many different types of Travel Medical Insurance plans available, sometimes within the same insurance company. The reason is that an insurance company will design different plans for different circumstances when possible. So you need to write down what your special requirements are when you begin to shop, but that is for another article.

You can find out how to get your travel insurance on-line at or contact the agent there using their contact form.

Thank you for your time and hope you read more of my articles in the future.

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About the Author

Ken specializes in Travel Medical Insurance, Trip Insurance, Global Health Insurance and all of the derivations(Mission, Marine, Student, etc.).

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