Eye on Travel Insurance

In my column this month, I will first answer a subscriber’s specific questions regarding purchasing travel insurance, then I will provide some thoughts and recommendations on the general subject.

QUESTION: Dear Mr. Wirtanen, my husband and I are planning a trip to China (including Tibet) and Japan in October-November and, for the first time, we are wondering about the value of purchasing travel insurance.

In the archives of your “Eye On Travel Insurance”...

Discussion of a complex area of travel insurance. Your travel insurance policy may tap into your “Medigap” coverage, plus how Wayne deals with that issue on overseas trips.
This article explains the differences between these types of policies and reveals the great advantage of a primary-payer policy.
This article is for travelers who want the preexisting-condition clause waived when buying a full-feature travel insurance.
This article describes what a traveler needs to know about the preexisting-condition clause when deciding whether or not to purchase a policy that covers only overseas medical expenses and emergency-medical evacuation.
Travel insurance competition” — Two more travel insurance providers have switched their medical benefits to primary-payer coverage. (See June 2013, page 58, which explains the advantage of primary-payer policies.)
The short answer is 'Probably not.' A discussion of the possibilities of having a medical emergency on your trip abroad. Statistics that Wayne developed indicate that only on approximately one trip in 1,000 trips will an overseas traveler have any kind of medical emergency that requires an outpatient visit to a hospital or other medical clinic, etc., that is, a medical problem that needs more than first-aid type of treatment. (This article claims that a disadvantage of a zero-trip-cost policy is the lack of a waiver of the preexisting-condition clause. Subsequent research indicated that three travel insurance policies will waive the preexisting-condition clause [see July 2012, pg 58].)
A discussion of travel insurance with regard to changes in a trip’s itinerary. Travel insurance without a “Cancel for any reason” clause will cover trip interruption only for specific causes (generally, a death in the family or a medical emergency affecting you, your spouse or a traveling companion or a close relative back home or one of the nonmedical reasons listed by the policy). (See June 2003, page 50, for information on “Cancel anytime, for any reason" coverage.)