When taking a trip, the last thing you want to think about is what might go wrong. Travel insurance may be the last thing on your to-do list and because of that, may never get purchased. But trip protection is important. Even what you may think is a small event can pay for the cost of the insurance. Miss a connection and incur the expense of meals and an overnight hotel stay? Lose your luggage and have to hit the local department store for clothes to wear? Your insurance policy may cover all of this.
But what happens when the bills get big, like falling ill and needing medical care? This is where travel insurance really pays off. But for the insurance company to reimburse you, it will need proper documentation. Ask for a copy of the hospital’s admitting and discharge papers, an invoice and/or doctor’s notes showing the diagnosis, an itemized bill, and your dates of treatment. If possible, get copies of x-rays and test results.
If your hospitalization is due to an accident, contact the local authorities to report it. Ask for a copy of this report as you will need to submit it as part of your medical claim.
Know whether your travel insurance policy provides primary or secondary coverage. If primary, you’ll submit your claim directly to the insurance company first. If secondary, you must first submit your claim to your personal medical insurance, if it covers you abroad. Any costs not covered by your personal insurance policy are then submitted to the insurance company.
Be sure to follow the instructions of your policy. Some policies require that you contact them immediately if you need hospitalization. And whether or not your trip protection insurance requires this, it is a smart thing to do. A representative of the insurance company may be able to help you get the paperwork you need, especially if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language.
If you need evacuation, contact with your trip protection company is especially important. Don’t make your own arrangements without first contacting the company. Depending on the situation, the insurance company may make arrangements for private jet transport to a hospital nearby or in the United States or it may authorize and make arrangements for your flight home on a commercial jet. While you may have to pay for the latter transportation up front, following the instructions of your insurance company will make things flow smoothly when you claim for reimbursement.
Always read your insurance policy completely when you receive it. Don’t put it off. For instance, most trip protection policies have specific requirements for coverage if you have a pre-existing condition, such as the policy must be purchased within 14 days of depositing (or paying for) your trip and you must insure the full pre-paid and non-refundable trip costs. By reading the policy and making sure you understand it, you’ll be able to ask for and provide the documentation necessary to support your claim. And if you have any questions after reading the policy, call your travel insurance company and ask for help.