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Averting costly vacation disaster

Travel insurance protects your family when out of country.

Medical coverage is complicated. Even more so when you travel. Save yourself the headaches, stress and expense, and plan ahead if you’re traveling outside the U.S.  I say this based on personal experience.

Seventeen of my family members had planned a holiday vacation to Mexico for Christmas in 2016. Our group included my 79-year old not-so-healthy father.

My father had recently been doing well and was cleared by three separate doctors for travel to Mexico. But I was concerned anyway. So, three days before the flight, I decided to do a little investigating. A colleague confirmed that neither corporate health insurance nor Medicare would follow us across the border to cover the unexpected while in Mexico. I was willing to take the risk, given the doctors’ clearance. Plus I didn’t think anyone in their right mind would be willing to underwrite the risk on such short notice.

Despite my doubts, I visited the TravelGuard website (underwritten by AIG) and was pleasantly surprised to find that, not only were they willing to take on the risk, they barely asked any questions. Before I knew it, I paid a one-time premium of $420 for $25,000 of medical expenses, $500,000 of emergency evacuation coverage, and complimentary coverage for my 70-year-old mother.

It turns out that was a smart move.

Three days into the trip my dad was experiencing severe abdominal pain. The on-site doctor determined he required greater medical care and ordered a 30-minute medical transport to the hospital in Playa Del Carmen.

In advance of that transport, I made a courtesy call to TravelGuard. They opened a claim and kept in close contact. They called the hospital and informed them of his arrival, verified their capabilities, and asked for any available English-speaking employees.

The biggest issue was payment for services. Like most insurance coverage, TravelGuard didn’t want to make any advanced payments without knowing that coverage existed. But a coverage determination could not be made without an examination, and the hospital refused to examine him without advance payment.

We didn’t argue and knew, with or without coverage, my father needed treatment. So we gave the hospital a credit card to get the process going.

In the end, my father’s ailment was covered because it started while on vacation. TravelGuard not only paid for the two-night stay at a hospital, but they also picked up the medical transport from the resort to the hospital, and any necessary medications. The total damages were just under $8,000 and TravelGuard’s coverage paid-in-full.

The best part about this experience was the expertise and professionalism of TravelGuard. And they could not have been more attentive, sending an email after every shift change.

They made a bad situation very tolerable and were a sounding board for a group of people thrown into a unique situation.

Neither health insurance nor Medicare provides coverage outside of the U.S. Travel insurance provides an economical way to fill this coverage gap and not only provides health-related coverage (expense & evacuation) but also trip cancellation/delay, lost luggage, and other valuable coverage. The underwriting is limited (i.e., they don’t ask many questions) and can be purchased right up until the day you leave. Contact me if you’ll be vacationing outside the U.S.

Author, Tom Hopkins, Personal Insurance Department Leader