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health insurance for travel

If you're a novice at traveling overseas, you may be wondering about insurance. Insurance is a constant in our financial lives in the US. When we’re outside the country, does this change?

Many people are actually confused about insurance when traveling. Even those who travel abroad regularly may be paying more than they have to or may not be covered for certain scenarios.

To help you make decisions regarding travel insurance, here’s what you need to know.

Personal Belongings

You may have bought travel insurance in the past that covers your belongings. This is certainly reassuring considering the potential for your baggage being lost with hundreds or thousands of dollars worth of personal property. However, it is actually unnecessary for most people.

Regular renters insurance covers your personal belongings from theft even when you're traveling abroad. In most cases, this applies to lost baggage as well. As such, you probably do not need travel insurance specifically to cover your possessions. If your renters insurance has a large deductible, however, you can get travel insurance that will cover your entire claim.

The Best-Laid Plans

Travel insurance becomes very important when it comes to scenarios specific to traveling. The most common scenario in which you would use your travel insurance is when your plans get canceled, delayed, or interrupted. This is especially useful in today’s world, when COVID-19 regulations can disrupt even the best-laid plans.

Travel insurance comes into effect when you need to cancel plans altogether, postpone plans, or even interrupt your trip to take care of something back home. It will cover you on accommodation and flights for which you cannot get refunds.

It may also cover items on your itinerary for which you've paid big deposits. So, if you are supposed to go on an expensive day cruise during your trip to Mykonos and have already paid, you can reclaim what the tour provider will not reimburse. For those who like to plan everything in advance, travel insurance means you do not have to worry about unforeseen events.

Travel insurance is crucial for travel-related expenses. However, this is far from the only important use of travel insurance.

Health Insurance

Health insurance policies in the US are not like renters insurance policies. In fact, they are very specific to your location, and often will only cover certain healthcare providers even at home. As such, they are unlikely to cover your medical expenses when traveling.

While health care in most countries is not nearly as expensive as it is in the US, it can still come at a prohibitive price. For non-residents, it is generally not subsidized by government programs. Therefore, if you are in a major accident or fall ill on your trip and need specialized care, you could find yourself tens of thousands of dollars in the red.

Travel insurance covers health costs at a relatively low price. You're not paying your standard health insurance costs as the risks are low – most people only travel when they are confident about their health. It is the most important type of travel insurance you can get, as health bills can add up and you do not want to be left stranded without treatment thousands of miles away.

There is also the matter of emergency evacuation, which could be important if you are going to a remote part of the world. Spending time on an island far from the crowds is incredible, but you're unlikely to find good health care.

Credit Cards

Before buying travel insurance, check with your credit card provider whether insurance is already included. Many credit cards come with insurance that will cover travel-related expenses, such as canceled plans or delayed flights. Of course, these expenses will need to have been paid for with the specific credit card in order to qualify.

Travel insurance is crucial when you are going overseas, but you may not need as much coverage as you expect. If you already have homeowners or renters insurance, your possessions are likely covered. However, you will need to get travel insurance to cover canceled plans as well as medical emergencies that occur while you are outside of the US.