Five Questions You MUST Ask Before Buying Travel Insurance

Make sure you're fully covered before you leave the country

Do you have all the answers about your travel insurance? Without asking these questions, you could fall into hidden gaps very quickly.
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One of the most common mistakes travelers make prior to their trip is assuming that all travel insurance policies are the same. Unfortunately, there are key differences in plans - meaning when a traveler purchases a travel insurance policy, they are not necessarily covered for whatever may happen to them as they venture the world.

In fact, while one travel insurance policy may cover injuries and illness, others will only cover trip delay and trip cancellation. While some plans will cover delays of six hours, many plans only extend coverage after 12 hours. In regards to rental cars, some travel insurance providers offer an additional add-on policy, and other rental companies require travelers to purchase their insurance policies.

When it comes to your next trip, are you fully covered by a travel insurance policy? Be sure to ask these five questions before purchasing any travel insurance plan.  

Does my travel insurance policy cover pre-existing medical conditions?

One of the most important travel insurance questions to ask is in regards to any pre-existing medical conditions. Many travel insurance policies have a pre-existing medical condition exclusion for travelers, meaning complications of existing health concerns may not be covered when they happen abroad. Pre-existing conditions can be as small as a healed fracture, or as complex as a heart condition.

In many situations, travel insurance policies will only waive the pre-existing medical condition exclusion with an early purchase. By purchasing a travel insurance policy within the first two weeks of an initial deposit, travelers can make sure their trip is covered, even if a pre-existing medical condition requires attention.

Will my travel insurance cover sports and "high risk" activities?

It is no secret that travel insurance will not cover "high risk" activities that travelers may wish to engage in while abroad. Those who wish to run with the bulls or completing that cliff dive may need to purchase extra travel insurance atop their policy. What about an injury sustained from a game of golf?

For those who want to play sports while abroad, one of the most important travel insurance questions should be about sports coverage. Depending on the sport, travel insurance may not provide coverage for normal injuries sustained in the course of playing sports. Before planning that perfect getaway, make sure that your sport of choice is covered under a selected policy. Additionally, travelers should also ask if sports equipment is covered under travel insurance, as not all baggage loss policies covers golf clubs or ski equipment.

Do I need pre-authorization from my travel insurance for treatment or hospitalization?

Barring an emergency situation, certain travel insurance policies require travelers request pre-authorization before they are allowed to seek treatment. If the traveler does not complete this action, then their claim may be considered null and void.

Before settling on a plan, asking if pre-authorization is required before seeking treatment is a key travel insurance question. In any event, calling a travel insurance provider prior to seeing a doctor may also be a good idea, as they can recommend accredited facilities at your destination.

Can I call my travel insurance provider to speak to a physician?

In many situations, travelers may not need to seek medical treatment, but rather just want to speak to a physician in order to troubleshoot a condition or restriction. Certain travel insurance policies have this available to travelers, while others can access this service through their primary health insurance.

Though primary health insurance policies may not provide access to this service abroad, certain travel insurance policies allow travelers to contact a physician with questions prior to seeking care. Finding out if a nurse or physician hotline is available should be a key travel insurance question before purchase. If your travel insurance policy of choice does not offer this service, travelers can always turn to a smartphone app for questions or concerns – though these services may have certain costs attached.

Will my travel insurance pay my care provider, or will it only guarantee payment?

Unlike primary health insurance policies, not all travel insurance policies provide direct payment to medical providers when care is needed. Some policies only guarantee payment to care facilities, which could result in the traveler being forced to pay for certain expenses out of pocket.

One of the most important travel insurance questions to ask is about how the policy pays out. By knowing the difference between a policy that will directly pay care providers, as opposed to one that only guarantees payment, travelers can be prepared to make educated decisions in their care. Those who can afford a payment out of pocket for reimbursement later can save money up front, while those who cannot afford an emergency should consider buying a policy that pays care providers directly. 

While travel insurance can be a tricky process, having answers can help travelers make the most of their journey. By asking these critical questions, travelers can make sure they know what is covered, and what situations will disqualify them from filing a claim.