Planning a family vacation is a lot of work. It requires a great deal of planning and preparation to simply travel as a family within your home country. When you consider the many additional requirements necessary to travel abroad—and multiply those by a family of five, an overseas trip becomes a trial of organizational skills. While you likely insure your trip against cancellation, medical insurance coverage seems to be something that even the most diligent trip planner may overlook as overseas trips are planned. Why must you consider your medical insurance coverage? You have excellent medical insurance at home—so you are covered, right? Maybe you are not. It surprises many to learn that the medical coverage that they use throughout a native country may not be valid at all in other parts of the world.
We all know that illnesses and accidents happen. As parents we also realize that some little ones are accident magnets. How can you be sure that your family carries adequate medical insurance coverage while traveling abroad to protect against an accident or illness?
Check Your Current Medical Insurance Policy
For residents of the U.S., you may already have some travel medical coverage with your current provider—but, you may not have any at all or you may not have enough. Make sure that your plan adequately covers you and your family for both hospital or doctor treatments in the country you will be visiting—but, also covers medical evacuation to return you to the United States if necessary. Also, bear in mind that U.S. Medicare and Medicaid coverage does not apply at all outside of the United States.
For non-U.S. residents traveling from a country which uses a national health care system, you may have limited coverage or not have coverage outside your home country at all. In both situations, you need to understand the specifics of your current policy and seek supplemental insurance if necessary.
Compare a Variety of Supplemental Insurance Plans
Talk with your travel agent and research private insurance companies to compare the plans, coverage amounts and rates available from each. Again, be sure that your family has enough coverage for basic or emergency treatment as well as for medical evacuation. These are short term or emergency policies that are available from many sources offering a wide range of options and rates depending on your travel destination and possible risks.
Select Supplemental Insurance that Fits the Nature of Your Travel
There are many things to consider. Will you need additional coverage because you are traveling into an area considered at risk for terrorism? Will you be participating in adventurous activities that would not be included in a standard supplemental plan? Do you have pre-existing conditions or disabilities? Be sure to consider all of the factors that your family will face during travel to avoid an accident or illness requiring out of pocket payment that could lead to financial disaster.
Carry Insurance and Medical Documentation during Travel
Be sure to carry your medical insurance cards or coverage documentation as well as copies of claim forms. Many facilities may not offer computerized claim processing! As a side note, you may wish to carry a written copy of your family’s medical history including personal physician information, allergies, medical conditions and prescription medication details. Do not forget to complete the emergency information section inside your passport as well. These documents can speak for you if you are unable.
Preparing your family for vacation is a lot of work, but the memories are well worth the effort. Taking the time to research your options and protect your family can prevent a minor mishap from derailing your trip as well as your financial future.