As someone who’s selling travel insurance, whether you’re a seasoned insurance broker, or perhaps a tour operator who newly implemented travel insurance into their product offering, you’ve all probably been bombarded with some of the same questions over and over. Whether customers need a 411 from the very get-go explaining the many uses of travel insurance, or need insight into something a bit more particular, it might help to have a handy guide that you can study and follow. What are these frequently asked questions? Let’s begin!
What exactly does travel insurance include?
First off, travel insurance is emergency care to protect your trip when things unexpectedly go wrong. Depending on the policy you buy, the benefits you’re eligible for can range from compensation for an overnight stay at a hotel because your flight was delayed, to compensation for cancelling your trip because a family member passed away, among other covered reasons. It’s designed to help cover your expenses for unforeseen accidents or illnesses that are out of your control and unexpected events you never thought could happen to you. This does not mean you can just cancel your trip because you had a fight with your travel buddy and expect to be compensated. However, some policies do provide an optional “Cancel For Any Reason” feature, that allows for trip cancellation for other reasons not named in the policy.
Can I get coverage for an illness I already have while traveling?
The simple answer to this is no, unfortunately. Many insurance companies do not cover pre-existing conditions. If you fall ill while traveling, yes, travel insurance is there to help cover your expenses and get you to where you need to be, whether it’s a local hospital or on a medical transportation back home. But if you need it to pay for medication for chronic disease or a medical condition you knew of before you bought the policy, you could be out of luck.
However, there is light the end of the tunnel for some of your clients. Although pre-existing conditions aren’t typically covered, some insurance policies may have a shorter lookback period which is the period of time used to define whether a condition is pre-existing. This could offer you some lenience if you have a chronic illness but haven’t needed treatment or a change in medication recently. For example, let’s say you’ve taken up a policy with a 60-day lookback period, and you have a chronic lung condition. However, you haven’t had an issue (treatment, symptoms or change in medication) for 60+ days. Now, you’d officially be considered medically stable, which means you could get compensation if you were to experience an episode during your trip, because your illness is no longer classified as pre-existing.
This is often a huge topic of debate among the world of travelers. It is true that many credit card brands offer some of the same benefits that you can find in a travel insurance policy. With some of the best travel credit cards offering these benefits, it would appear that it’s unnecessary to purchase a traditional travel insurance policy. However, travel benefits included on a credit card are not a substitute for a travel insurance policy, and many times, people are unaware of that. The main limitation to credit cards that offer travel insurance is that they don’t offer coverage for emergency medical evacuation. This means, if you or your travel companion needs to be airlifted to a hospital in the middle of Paris, you will likely have to pay for that service fully out of your own pocket if you’re relying on your credit card’s travel benefits.
How do I use travel insurance when I’m actually in an emergency situation?
It depends on the travel insurance company as well as the policy that you’re using. If it’s a major medical emergency needing overnight hospitalization or emergency medical evacuation, then, either you or someone in your party would contact the emergency assistance number assigned to your policy and they can help coordinate and make arrangements. For all other situations, including day admission to hospital, you may need to call your insurance company and file a claim. You would pay out of pocket at the time you receive treatment and then submit documentation to the insurance company afterwards. Be sure to keep all documentation, and save all receipts and bills. These pieces of evidence could mean the difference between you getting and not getting coverage.
Do travel insurance companies really cover me? I’ve read complaints online from some customers about how their claims were denied.
What we all need to understand is that insurance – much like any other financial products, such as credit cards, mortgages, leases, etc. – often contain exclusions and limitations. And we know that people have a tendency to barely skim through the terms and conditions or policy language of any purchase they make. What does this lead to? Misunderstanding. Customers tend to make assumptions of what they’re covered for without reading the policy completely, and then are upset when their claims are denied, which is what you can typically see in the negative reviews you may read.
So, to avoid disappointment and frustration later on, take the time to read your policy carefully, and don’t hesitate to reach out to your policy provider if you have any questions. Don’t make any assumptions. If you read and understand your policy correctly, include all the necessary documentation when filing a claim, and follow the procedures properly, you really shouldn’t have any issues with receiving your benefits!
We hope we’ve provided you with some insight regarding a few of the most frequently asked questions travelers have regarding travel insurance! If your customers ask you any other questions that you’re unable to answer, don’t hesitate to email us!