6 common myths about travel insurance and what it covers

In particular, after the COVID-19 pandemic, travel insurance has become a mandatory element of travel. And while it can certainly be useful for many types of trips, there is a lot of misconceptions about travel insurance.

In most cases, travel insurance does not equate to automatic reimbursement. There are usually a bunch of paperwork to fill out to prove you’re right, plus strict deadlines to stick to. And ordinary road bumps (like a delayed flight), not to mention entire checkpoints — like an outbreak of a disease you’ve already been diagnosed with — are usually not covered.

Here are six common travel insurance myths that often come up and the truth behind them.

Myth 1: Travel insurance is just health insurance.

By no means. Most forms of travel cancellation or interruption insurance only cover emergency medical expenses. This is helpful if you break your leg while skiing in the Alps, but it won’t be covered by standard health insurance.

You may be on a catheter that your doctor has to change every two weeks, but you’re on a two-month trip. Many health insurance policies, including Medicare and Medicaid, clearly do not cover most medical expenses abroad. And most travel health insurance only covers medical emergencies.

If you want to cover non-emergency medical expenses abroad, you have two options:

  1. Boost your existing health insurance with additional coverage for international travel. Additional costs may be justified if you travel frequently and/or expect to seek medical care abroad (even for routine dental cleanings).

  2. Purchase international health insurance. Many major insurance companies offer health insurance that can cover treatment in your country and around the world for emergencies as well as more predictable cases such as maternity, dental and wellness checkups. Whether you decide to work remotely abroad or travel abroad frequently, it can make sense to make sure you can see a doctor anywhere.

Myth 2: Travel insurance is most useful for extreme sports trips.

In fact, everything is quite the opposite. Many forms of travel insurance do not explicitly cover certain high-risk activities, such as skydiving, scuba diving, or bungee jumping. If your trip involves adventure sports, you may need to purchase a separate policy that specifically covers your activity.

Look for coverage of aerial activities, which typically range from ziplining and hot air ballooning to more exciting activities like skydiving, hang gliding and bungee jumping. Specific water sports policies generally apply to watercraft, scuba diving and deep sea fishing. Winter sports coverage can provide activities such as snowboarding, skiing, heli-skiing and windsurfing on ice.

Squaremouth, which is a travel insurance comparison tool, recommends at least $50,000 for emergency medical coverage and $100,000 for medical evacuation coverage when purchasing these policies.


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