Overseas Travel Insurance – Need It?


Like most inexperienced overseas travelers, the cost of overseas travel insurance in addition to transportation, hotel and possibly a tour operator seemed excessive to me. There is something about travel insurance which triggers thoughts about one’s current medical insurance and questions as to the need of adding additional expense to a trip.

Therefore, I began the journey to determine just what my health insurance covers and what I could anticipate if some unforeseen mishap occurred while fishing off the coast of southern Mexico. Two thousand dollars and 80% of any medical ambulance including a MedVac flight back to the States was what I could expect, I guess it’s something.

Now, the question was what kind of coverage did my traveling buddy have, who in this case just happened to be my daughter? Although, I asked this question, I got no answer. Did she investigate? Here is the story.

Overseas travel insurance from two American insurers is as follows: $32 for eight days for $100,000 coverage including 100% medical evacuation or $159 for the same eight days for $250,000, also including 100% medical evacuation. Travel insurance from HBF can improve these numbers somewhat since inherent in their package is a 10% discount to members.

So, have you ever heard of gallstones, OK, I’m not going to get into the details of it but lets just say $32 dollars could have been the best $32 dollars she ever spent!

Now these numbers are for a mature adult, age approximately 45 years of age, which she was, for travel to Mexico. For the approximately 850 miles to Houston, TX which was determined to be the closest and most convenient hospital complex, the cost of medical evacuation by LearJet was just under $25,000 not including cost for services of attending physician and his return to Ixtapa. Add to that the services of the clinical personnel in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, the entire billing from the insurance company was just under $50,000; her portion was very close to $10,000.

This proved to be a very expensive fishing trip which not only left her with perforated ulcers and gallstones needing treatment, but the cooler containing our 100 lb. sailfish could not be fitted into the tail section causing us to have to donate all that good fish to the workers at the clinic.

So, when considering the need for overseas travel insurance remember that disaster can strike—and does. In many cases the cost of the catastrophe far exceeds the cost of the insurance, so ask yourself if you have the resources to pay for the unexpected, if you are traveling in an area where access to good health care is available or will there be a need to be airlifted out, and finally, if you are able to withstand the stress or worry of financial reverses while recovering from the medical emergency. No one can answer these questions better than you, and the questions must be asked. Keep that in mind.

Published in Travel Safety Tips, Travel Tips

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