Travel insurance policy documents

The United States Travel Insurance Association (USTiA) recently released the results of compiled data for travel insurance purchases made by U.S. travelers between 2016 and 2018, which revealed that only six percent of Americans purchased travel medical insurance.

The International Travel Insurance Journal (ITIJ) reported on the survey that, although overall purchases of travel insurance coverage by U.S. citizens had risen more than 40 percent, as compared to the years prior to 2016, 94 percent of those policies covered trip cancellations and trip interruptions exclusively. That means that the vast majority of American voyagers were left at risk of incurring massive medical bills, should they become seriously ill or injured while abroad.

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Rajeev Shrivastava, CEO and founder of VisitorsCoverage, an InsurTech company in Silicon Valley, California, remarked on the findings: “American travelers too often trust single options offered to them for travel coverage after purchasing airline tickets or rely on their credit card travel coverage for all of their travel needs. Unfortunately, they are risking serious financial consequences if they do not purchase comprehensive medical travel insurance coverage.”

Perhaps American travelers aren’t considering that most U.S.-based health insurance plans do not extend coverage for treatments or hospitalization occurring outside of the U.S., nor does Medicare coverage apply outside of the States. In the event of a medical emergency and without means to pay for treatment, American citizens are subject to repatriation—meaning they’d be returned to the U.S. via medical airlift, accompanied by trained medical staff—which often comes with a five- to six-figure price tag.

Shrivastava affirmed that it’s the duty of all travel insurance companies to comprehensively educate the public about what their U.S.-based medical insurance will and will not cover in terms of treatment, if it becomes necessary, while abroad.

“Savvy American travelers are aware of the myriad of events that may impact their travel,” Shrivastava continued. “Natural disasters and civil unrest may require, not only medical treatment or emergency evacuation, but a travel insurance policy with the ability to cancel for any reason up to 48 hours prior to departure, should global events unfold and the traveler is hesitant or fearful to embark on their journey.”

Cancel-for-any-reason travel insurance runs about an additional 40 percent on top of the cost of a typical travel insurance policy, but could potentially save customers thousands of dollars if they’ve planned five-figure holidays or cruises.

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