Traveling can be incredibly beneficial and memorable for you and your family. Disconnecting from regular routines, seeing new places and meeting new people can improve your relationships and emotional health.
But before you go, make sure you understand what your insurance policies cover and what they don’t.
Facts About Insurance That Every Traveler Should Know
Here are five facts about insurance that every traveler should know.
1. Health insurance coverage depends on where you travel.
According to a recent survey from UnitedHealthcare, traveling for several weeks or longer is a top goal for 45% of Americans over age 62. No matter if you dream of flying across the globe, touring in an RV, or visiting grandchildren, make sure travel is a factor in the health coverage you choose.
Even if you don’t have a preexisting health condition, an illness or accident could take you by surprise away from home. If your health plan specifies a list of authorized network providers, traveling “out of network” means that certain types of medical care may not be covered.
So, before your next trip, find out if your health plan has coverage limitations for your destination. Contact your insurer’s customer service department to ask questions such as:
- What should I know about using my health insurance as I travel?
- What coverage do I have if I get sick or injured abroad?
- Do I have coverage for an emergency abroad that requires evacuation home or to another country?
If you have Medicare, it usually doesn’t offer health or prescription drug benefits outside the U.S. But if you have a Medicare supplemental policy (known as Medigap) or a Medicare Advantage plan, it may cover a portion of your medical costs abroad.
Before planning overseas travel, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at cdc.gov to learn about any health risks and recommended vaccinations for your destination. If you’re an older adult suffering from serious health problems, be sure to consult with your physician before traveling outside the U.S.
2. Auto insurance varies depending on where you drive.
If you take a cross-country road trip or go camping close to home, your auto insurance covers you in every U.S. state. But if you drive across the border or rent a vehicle abroad, make sure accidents, damages or thefts are covered. Contact your auto insurer and ask about shoring up coverage before you hit the road.
Your auto policy typically covers you while driving in Canada. But if you drive south of the border, you’ll need to purchase a liability policy from a Mexico insurer. Find more information at the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in Mexico website at mx.usembassy.gov.
When you travel abroad, you’re allowed to drive a rented vehicle. However, most U.S. auto insurers don’t cover drivers outside the country (with Canada as the exception). You’ll need to purchase rental car insurance from the rental company based on the countries you plan to visit.
3. Home and renters insurance offers global protection.
Most home and renter’s insurance policies cover your personal property—such as clothing, jewelry and electronics—from a covered loss inside or outside of your home. Although certain types of belongings have limits, your property is covered from damage or theft anywhere you travel in or outside the U.S.
Speak with your insurer to make sure you have enough coverage if you plan to travel with valuable items, such as jewelry, cameras and laptop computers.
4. Life insurance companies view travel differently.
The UnitedHealthcare survey found that 78% of older adults believe that retirement is a time to focus on themselves rather than on others. But before you travel, don’t forget about loved-ones who may depend on you financially.
If you don’t have a life insurance policy, consider if you should get one before traveling. Insurers evaluate your application ahead of world travel differently depending on state regulations, how long you’ll be away, and the countries you’ll visit.
In general, if you already have life insurance, your death would be covered if the policy was issued and in force before taking a domestic or international trip.
5. Travel insurance can fill your coverage gaps.
Travel insurance covers you for a variety of situations ranging from an inconvenience, such as lost luggage, to having a medical emergency that requires airlift to the nearest hospital. The cost may range from 4% to 8% of your total trip cost.
The main benefits you get from a comprehensive travel policy include:
- Medical coverage – reimburses you for medical treatment during your trip.
- Emergency evacuation – arranges your transportation home or to the nearest hospital if you have a medical emergency.
- Trip cancellation – refunds the cost of your trip if you cancel for a covered reason, such as an illness or death in your family.
- Trip interruption – reimburses unused trip expenses if you must return home.
- Baggage protection – pays a benefit if your luggage is delayed, damaged or lost.
As your lifestyle changes or you get closer to retirement, it’s wise to reevaluate your insurance needs. Purchasing policies to fill any insurance gaps is a smart move. You’ll get peace of mind that enhances your journey, no matter where your travels take you.
Senior Couple with Camera image courtesy of Shutterstock
Disclosure: UnitedHealthcare is one of my business partners. Regardless, I only mention information, products, or services that I believe are good for my readers and all opinions are my own.