Three Travel Safety Myths You Need To Forget

Without a little knowledge, a travel injury can become a major expense

Think you are covered when you travel abroad? Think again - your coverage may not be valid in a foreign country.
Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/OJO+/Getty Images

Every year, millions of travelers go abroad without any major incidents. Those modern adventurers come home with nothing but good memories of the places they have been, with a new found drive to see more of the world.

However, not every trip begins or ends perfectly. In fact, many tourists become injured or fall ill while abroad, despite their best intentions otherwise. No matter how it happens, the hospital is the last place a traveler wants to visit in a foreign country.

If you have bought into any of these travel safety myths, you could be putting yourself in unnecessary danger. Before your next adventure, make sure you check these myths out of your mind.

Travel safety myth: I'm only in danger in "dangerous" countries

Truth: It is easy to get lulled into a false sense of security when your travel doesn't take you very far away from home. However, travelers can experience danger anywhere in the world. According to a study by the National Institutes of Health, 2,361 Americans were killed while traveling between 2004 and 2006. Of those, the majority (50.4 percent) were killed while traveling among the Americas.

In addition, the leading cause of death was not necessarily violence in each of these countries. In 40 percent of low- to middle-income countries, the leading causes of death were motor vehicle accidents and drowning. While it may be easy to believe that supposedly dangerous countries have more instances of injury or death, an accident can happen anywhere, at any time.

Travel safety myth: My regular health insurance plan will cover me abroad

Truth: Many insurance plans will only provide coverage as you travel throughout your home country. In the United States, most major health insurance plans will offer coverage throughout the 50 states and some American territories around the world, though sometimes at a higher cost.

While abroad, many countries will not acknowledge a private health insurance policy from your home country. In addition, Medicare will not cover American travelers while abroad, as foreign hospitals are not required to submit claims for payment. Without a medical travel insurance policy, you could be forced to pay for your care out of pocket.

Furthermore, some nations – like Cuba – require proof of travel insurance coverage prior to entering the country. If you cannot provide evidence of adequate international coverage, you could be forced to pay for travel insurance on the spot, or potentially be denied entry into the country.

Travel safety myth: I won't have to pay medical costs in other countries

Truth: A common travel myth surrounds countries that have national health care coverage. Because the health care policies are nationalized, some believe anyone in the country can access free or low-cost care. However, this coverage usually only extends to citizens or permanent residents of the destination country. Everyone else, including tourists, are forced to pay their own costs in the event of an illness or injury.

In addition, any type of nationalized health care may not cover the cost of medical evacuation. According to the U.S. State Department, an air ambulance back to your home country could cost over $10,000. Without travel insurance, you could be forced to pay for the travel care out of pocket.

While it is easy to get caught in the excitement of planning a trip, overlooking these three critical points could leave you stranded during an emergency. By getting these three myths out of your head, you can be better prepared for whatever may come from your next adventure. 

Was this page helpful?