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Before Buying Travel Insurance Five Questions You MUST Ask


Do you have all the answers about your travel insurance? Without asking these questions, you could fall into hidden gaps very quickly. - Kohei Hara/DigitalVision/Getty Images

One of the most common mistakes travelers make prior to their trip is assuming that all travel insurance policies are the same. For example: when a traveler purchases a plan from one of many travel insurance providers, they are covered for whatever may happen to them as they venture the world.
However, not all travel insurance policies are created the same. While one travel insurance policy may cover injuries and illness, others will only cover trip delay and trip cancellation.
While some plans will cover delays of six hours, many plans only extend coverage after 12 hours. In regards to rental cars, some travel insurance providers offer an additional add-on policy, and other rental companies require travelers to purchase their insurance policies.
When it comes to your next trip, are you fully covered by a travel insurance policy?
Be sure to ask these five questions before purchasing any travel insurance plan.  

Does my travel insurance policy cover pre-existing medical conditions?

Most travel insurance policies have a pre-existing medical condition exclusion for travelers, meaning complications of existing conditions may not be covered when they happen abroad. Pre-existing conditions can be as small as a previous fracture, or as complex as a heart condition.
In many situations, travel insurance policies will only waive the pre-existing medical condition exclusion with an early purchase. By purchasing a travel insurance policy within the first two weeks of an initial deposit, travelers can make sure their trip is covered, even if a pre-existing medical condition requires attention.

Will my travel insurance cover sports and "high risk" activities?

It is no secret that travel insurance will not cover "high risk" activities that travelers may wish to engage in while abroad. Those who have grandeurs of running with the bulls or completing that cliff dive may need to purchase extra travel insurance atop their policy.
What about an injury sustained from a game of golf?
Depending on the sport, travel insurance may not provide coverage for normal injuries sustained in the course of playing sports. Before planning that perfect sporting getaway, make sure that your sport of choice is covered under a selected policy. For those planning on bringing equipment along: make sure your equipment is also covered under a policy, as not all baggage loss policies cover sports equipment.

Do I need pre-authorization from my travel insurance for treatment or hospitalization?

Barring an emergency situation, certain travel insurance policies require travelers to check in and request pre-authorization before they are allowed to seek treatment. If the traveler does not complete this action, then their claim may be considered null and void.
Before buying a policy, make sure to understand if pre-authorization is required before seeking treatment. In any event, calling a travel insurance provider prior to seeing a doctor may also be a good idea, as they can recommend accredited facilities at your destination.

Can I call my travel insurance provider to speak to a physician?

In many situations, travelers may not need to seek medical treatment, but rather just want to speak to a physician in order to troubleshoot a condition or restriction. Certain travel insurance policies have this available to travelers, while others can access this service through their primary health insurance.
Though primary health insurance policies may not provide access to this service abroad, certain travel insurance policies allow travelers to contact a physician with questions prior to seeking care. If your travel insurance policy of choice does not offer this service, travelers can always turn to a smartphone app for questions or concerns – though these services may have certain costs attached.

Will my travel insurance pay my care provider, or will it only guarantee payment?

Unlike primary health insurance policies, not all travel insurance policies provide direct payment to medical providers when care is needed. Some policies only guarantee payment to care facilities, which could result in the traveler being forced to pay for certain expenses out of pocket.
By knowing the difference between a police that will directly pay care providers or only guarantee payment, travelers can be prepared to make educated decisions in their care. Choosing the right policy can help travelers stay on budget, even if the worst happens.
While travel insurance can be a tricky process, having answers can help travelers make the most of their journey. By asking these critical questions, travelers can make sure they know what is covered, and what situations will disqualify them from filing a claim.

Make sure you're fully covered before you leave the country

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