What You Need to Know About Travel Insurance - Frank N. Darras, America’s Top Insurance Lawyer, Suggests Asking These Questions to Your Insurance Provider Before Traveling Overseas

August 28, 2012

With Labor Day quickly approaching and summer coming to a close, many Americans are taking final vacations before the kids go back to school and those long winter nights set in. Between scheduling flights and booking hotel rooms, many people forget to think about whether or not they are covered should an accident occur while traveling.

"Looking over your health insurance policy before taking off for vacation should be a priority. Often, people have no idea what or how much their policy covers during travel, particularly overseas. This is a not a question you want to be asking after an accident has occurred," says Frank N. Darras, America's top insurance lawyer.

A common misconception is that travel health insurance must be purchased when traveling overseas. Yet, many Americans are already covered under their current health insurance plans if they should need treatment in a different country. The questions to ask are how much and what coverage is provided overseas. It's likely that coverage is the same whether in America or Spain. But it's also possible that policies may provide limited coverage overseas or may not cover certain activities, such as adventure-related activities.

"Protection doesn't always have to mean purchasing travel insurance. Sometimes it's as simple as checking over your current policy and making adjustments accordingly. If your plan has a spending limit for overseas travel or doesn't cover your bungee jump experience, then a travel insurance plan can be purchased to supplement your regular insurance," says Darras.

If primary coverage is limited, travel health insurance can be purchased to provide secondary insurance and limit out of pocket expenses. It is often relatively cheap and provides great coverage, but there are things to consider before purchasing. For instance, most insurance companies are cautious about covering adventure-related activities through insurance. There are often extra charges for covering these activities that can increase the cost by 100-200%.

Travelers should also be careful not to confuse travel insurance with travel health insurance. The health insurance provided under regular travel insurance is often minimal, if offered at all. Travel insurance typically only reimburses for emergencies that occur during travel, such as death, sickness or trip cancellation due to the travel company. What the plan doesn't cover is actual medical expenses, especially if long-term care is needed before the individual is able to return home.

"It's always a good idea to read the fine print before buying. You don't want to wind up paying for a plan that covers what you already have through your current health insurance plan. You also don't want to be in the hospital before realizing the insurance you thought you purchased only covers minor injuries. If you have any questions about the fine print, ask an insurance lawyer to read over it before purchasing," says Darras.