Medical, Travel and Cancellation Insurance – Do you really need it?

by alrahmahsolutions on Friday, 4 October 2013

Oops… he didn’t get comprehensive medical/travel and cancellation insurance. Don’t let it happen to you.

Insurance seems like an extra cost that at face value, you just don’t need. After all, you’ll never get ill or injured overseas, or be unlucky enough to lose your passport or backpack with all your personal belongings, or experience a cancelled flight or have a flight delay….  Right?!

Those are just a few of the common things that can happen when you travel overseas. With over 30,000 students on over 10 years of ISV’s programs, we’ve nearly seen it all; even the most careful travellers can have bad luck.

A few cases spring to mind just recently:

  • A lost passport in Costa Rica from an Australian participant meant that the she had to miss her flight home, incur unexpected costs such as additional accommodation, meals and travel to organise an emergency document to enable her to fly to Mexico in order to get a new passport at the nearest Australian Embassy and then fly home. Imagine her out of pocket expenses if she hadn’t had insurance!
  • In Thailand, we had an unlucky student who had to be hospitalised for over a week, missing most of their adventure tour and incurring multiple additional costs related to medical bills (later these were reimbursed by their Travel Insurance provider).
  • Sadly, another volunteer had a family emergency and they had to depart their host country early to return home. Travel Insurance covered these costs as it was a provision in their particular policy.
  • Every season we have many students for a variety of reasons miss their flight connections to/from their host country, and often their bags don’t make it on the same day they do. Thankfully, a quality insurance policy will provide some coverage for those scenarios too.
  • Lastly, we always recommend that “cancellation” insurance is obtained as well – why?  As an example, last week, only days before they were meant to fly to South Africa, a participant broke her arm and had to cancel last minute (she would have lost her program and flight fees… basically everything, without cancellation insurance).

An estimated 80,000 bags go missing on airlines around the world EVERY DAY.

There’s a reason that it’s mandatory for participation in ISV’s programs to have such the aforementioned insurances.

A couple of tips:

  • Read policies carefully – not all policies are equal and sometimes those credit card deals aren’t really a good deal after all when you actually need to make a claim.
  • It seems obvious, but make sure you get the right policy for the countries you are travelling to. Many destination countries are tiered in price depending on their local health care and costs – and always select comprehensive cover over budget cover – it’s worth it.
    • Make sure the policy start/end dates cover you for exactly for the date you depart, and the date you return (this isn’t always the date you leave your host country!).
    • Carry a copy of the policy number, the company name, and their emergency contact numbers with you at all times (e.g. in your wallet).
    • Check that the activities you plan on doing are actually included in the policy (look for exclusions… and think twice about doing those things that aren’t included). In the ISV participant agreement it is stated that you need to ensure you are covered for activities like canyoning, abseiling/rappelling and whitewater rafting (country specific) as well as all the other activities stated on the website on the adventure tour (if you are doing this) and the Optional Activity Package.  Beware – not all insurance companies automatically cover these activities.

ISV’s offices have worked directly with certain Travel Insurance providers with whom we’ve explained our program components and requirements, and whom we feel offer the best service at competitive prices.  Don’t delay, organise your insurance ASAP and don’t wait until the last minute!

You probably won’t need one, but what if you did? Medical/Travel Insurance gives you peace of mind as well as protection.

*Note for US participants- it’s easy to get caught out thinking that your American health care plan will cover you overseas, but since most American health care plans are based on the use of medical providers in a preferred network, and since very few if any, foreign doctors or hospitals are member of any of the US provider networks, coverage is likely to be limited and you’ll end up paying way more than you will with a proper “travel” medical insurance policy.

To learn more about ISV and our programs visit our website.


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