By: Ron Pradinuk
Questions that caught my attention this week dealt with travel health coverage, particularly relating to credit card and similar coverages. I hope the advice contained in this column addresses some of those concerns.
QUESTION: We make several trips to the U.S. and an international trip annually and have been purchasing an annual medical/trip cancellation policy through a local provider. What is your opinion of the medical/trip cancellation policies offered through credit card companies? The cost of the annual fee for the credit card is much lower than our annual policy, but is the medical/ trip cancellation coverage comparable?
ANSWER: I get asked this question often.
In addition to many different variations of credit card programs there are also corporate staff programs that provide travel health coverage.
To understand the complexities of each you have to be a lawyer! But you can still get an idea about what’s covered, along with any limitations, by reviewing the policy. A good bank account manager may also be able to help you.
Most of these programs provide excellent overall basic coverage but usually have some limitations.
At the same time, the banking industry often has its own travel insurance companies as a division so the available options may be expanded.
Also, you need to look at the method of payment if you needed to file a claim. Some policies force you to bear the costs up front. Then the wait to get reimbursed can be lengthy.
The larger focused health insurance providers frequently have world contract arrangements that can approve the payment to the hospital or physicians on the phone after a verbal assessment.
While you may find good travel health coverage on your policy, be sure to check if cancellation insurance is included, and whether it is a sufficient amount and for all the reasons you’d normally expect to be addressed in a policy.
In my case, I have both company and credit card coverage. Yet, I have chosen to carry an annual policy because of the amount I travel. I buy the highest level of travel insurance because I recognize people who travel frequently face an increased risk.
I have seen too many instances where people who wanted to get away with the minimum have been stuck with significant costs.
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