Check with your health insurance provider and credit card, but in most cases, you probably won't have much insurance coverage when you leave the country.
What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but if something happens in Somalia, you won't want to stay in Somalia.
Types of Travel Insurance
You can purchase two main types of travel insurance:
Since your regular health insurance may not cover all of your medical expenses when you take your annual "Running of the Bulls" vacation in Spain, these plans fill in the gaps and typically provide:
- Emergency medical and dental treatment
- Medical evacuation coverage, in case you have to return to the US in a hurry (say, with a bull horn-shaped hole in your abdomen)
These plans "package" both medical expenses and many other things that might go wrong (except for fashion emergencies). When people refer to generic "travel insurance," they're often referring to a package policy. Some of the extra coverage often includes:
- Trip cancellation (some conditions may apply)
- Missed connections
- Lost, stolen, damaged or delayed baggage
- Travel delay (due to weather, accident, Godzilla, etc.).
Some package plans also cover incidents like rental car accidents, identity theft, damage to sports equipment (in case your golf clubs "somehow" end up in the pond during your 100-stroke round) and adventure travel coverage.
Check with your health insurance provider to see if you already have any coverage for your travels.
Package plans often cost between 5% and 8% of the cost of the trip, depending on how much coverage you buy. Medical plans are less expensive.
Bert decided to blow his savings on a trip to Easter Island because he'd always wanted to meet the Easter Bunny in person. He didn't buy travel insurance since he figured the place would be full of rainbows, pastel skies and unicorns eating from hollow chocolate trees.
When he arrived, it turned out to be much less magical than he'd imagined. His bags, which contained the pills to control his back hair, were lost. He rented a car to get an emergency prescription filled, but he crashed into a giant stone head (who put THAT there?).
He had to walk for hours to reach a doctor's office that would accept his HMO, but by that time, his back looked like a woolly mammoth. He had to cancel the rest of the trip, but he was able to pay for his flight home by strapping a saddle to his back and charging the local children for rides.