Hospital Costs – Who pays?
When you are overseas and need to receive medical treatment at a doctor or hospital your travel insurance does not always pay upfront. Quite often you'll need lodge a claim when you get home. Before seeing a doctor, or as soon as you can if it's an emergency, call the insurance company and tell them what is happening. They'll be able to tell you if they have preferred medical providers and what you need to do to claim the costs back.
Ideally the insurance company will pay for your hospital or doctors costs upfront as this saves you from putting the costs on your credit card or trying to organise more money from home, especially if it's an expensive accident.
International Emergency Assistance – Who to call?
All travel insurance companies have a process for notifying them in case of emergency events and how to handle them. Always look for a policy that offers local phone numbers that you can call in a large number of countries. This will make it simple to contact them if you encounter problems. Reverse charge numbers do not work in all countries so should be avoided if you are travelling anywhere slightly off the beaten track. Phoning back to your own country can end up being very expensive depending where you are.
Always ensure you have the emergency assistance contact information handy at all times while travelling and keep an additional copy in your baggage and in an online storage or email account.
A low excess is very useful for comprehensive travel insurance because it allows you to claim on more low cost items. Many policies offer an excess buyout for a fee (reduces the excess to $ 0). This is often a very good idea as it means that you are able to claim for anything that you are able to and will get the total amount back. If you are going for a budget or medical only travel insurance policy the excess may be of less importance as you will likely only claim for high cost events where the excess is just a small percentage of the total amount.
Sports and adventure activity coverage
Certain adventurous sports are automatically covered by travel insurance companies, these are usually low risk sports or activities such as hiking, snorkeling, and water skiing. Higher risk sports like scuba diving, bungee jumping, and mountain biking may be covered for an extra fee but some companies do cover these normally. You should check directly with the insurance company if you are considering these sports.
Many of us have certain medical conditions that could potentially cause problems when on holiday. Conditions like asthma, arthritis, allergies. Sometimes these will be covered by the insurance policy, other times they will not and some with stop you from getting the travel insurance policy. These are detailed in the PDS and you will need to contact the travel insurance company directly if you have any concerns due to these medical conditions.
Reading customer reviews is very helpful as it provides an overview of the claims and assistance services that you can not get from reading the travel insurance PDS or from the company website. Pay particular attention to the ease and speed of claims and whether the company tries to get out of settling claims where ever possible.