Put simply, travel insurance is an insurance plan that covers unexpected expenses that occur during travel. These can range from medical coverage to travel plans to lost luggage to emergency departures.
Injury and Illness
When you become injured or ill while traveling, you may be very frustrated to know that your American health plan probably won’t cover doctor visits in foreign countries. Travel medical expenses can get very high, depending on where you are in the world, and very often your United States medical coverage policy doesn’t apply—even with health coverage like Medicare or Medicaid. Travel insurance is a type of medical coverage that will pay for medical visits, hospital stays, medications, and more while you are abroad.
There are usually provisions in travel insurance you need to be aware of. Although all travel insurance plans are different and you will want to make sure of exactly what your plan covers, some travel medical insurance plans do not cover pre-existing conditions (which is generally defined by a certain period before you take your trip, often 120 days). You often have to be deemed medically fit to travel and have no presented symptoms at the time you leave.
The travel policies also have strict time limits which coincide with the time that you are gone, basically covering your travel assistance from the time your airplane takes off to when it lands.
Illnesses Often Not Covered by Travel Insurance
Generally speaking, travel insurance does not cover mental health conditions, including anything from Alzheimer’s to depression to psychosis. The insurance will usually have caveats about epidemics (with specific guidelines about COVID-19 and traveling to countries that are high-risk). They will also rarely cover injuries or illnesses caused by the use of alcohol or drugs during the trip. There will always be provisions about traveling while pregnant.
What Else Is Covered by Travel Insurance?
Most of the things covered by travel insurance aren’t actually medical-related. Lost luggage is a great example. If you travel halfway around the world on a three-week trip only to find that your luggage has gone missing, travel insurance can help to pay to replace it.
(The Department of Transportation requires airlines to pay for lost luggage, but very often the payout will only come after the bags are officially declared “lost” and not simply “delayed” and the payout can take up to 21 days.) Travel insurance can give you money immediately to purchase new clothes and necessities.
Flight cancellations can cause major nightmares if you don’t have travel insurance. If a connecting flight doesn’t get you to your cruise in time to board, the cruise line might only refund you 25 percent of your trip. Travel insurance can offset that loss.