When it comes to travel insurance, most people think about the obvious dangers – illness and injury – but did you know that you must also consider the risk of contracting certain diseases at your destination?
Recently, the World Health Organization reported that there have been cases of people acquiring chicken pox – an extremely mild illness – while travelling in Vietnam. The risk of being exposed to the virus while abroad is very low, but it’s still something to consider.
The good news is that most travel insurance policies cover the cost of medical evacuations and other medical emergencies, so long as you meet the right criteria. You can find more details and confirm the coverage below.
What Is The Risk Of Contracting A Disease While Travelling?
The risk of contracting a disease while travelling is always very low – usually around the same as the risk of getting injured or sick at home. The main risk factors are:
- being at higher risk of getting a certain disease (e.g. if you have already been diagnosed with diabetes, you have a higher chance of getting sick from an infection.)
- not practicing safe sex (this includes avoiding unplanned pregnancies and contracting HIV/AIDS) – although HIV/AIDS is relatively rare while travelling, it’s still very prevalent, especially in certain parts of Africa
- not getting vaccines (for instance, if you are travelling to a country where the flu is prevalent, it’s a good idea to get an influenza vaccine) – you can get the flu while travelling, especially if you are in an area where the climate is very moist (e.g. the Amazon)
- not cleaning common areas (e.g. toilets) – although there is no evidence suggesting that viruses are transmitted via the air from surfaces that are not cleaned regularly, it’s still better safe than sorry
So, although it’s not exactly a common occurrence, you must still consider the possibility that you contract a disease while travelling. How dangerous is it likely to be? Let’s have a look:
How Dangerous Is It To Contract A Disease While Travelling?
In most cases, it’s not very dangerous. If you get sick while travelling, you will simply have to treat the symptoms and stay away from other people until you recover. The worst case scenario is if you contract HIV/AIDS while abroad – in that case, you will have to find medical help as soon as possible, as the virus progressively attacks your body, eventually leading to death.
HIV/AIDS is relatively rare while travelling, but it’s still very prevalent in some parts of the world – especially sub-Saharan Africa. If you are planning to travel to one of those places, make sure to get tested for HIV before you leave.
What Are The Main Differences Between Travel Insurance And Accidental Death And Dismemberment Insurance?
Although they both offer similar coverage, it’s important to carefully consider the differences between these two types of insurance products. First and foremost, travel insurance covers you against specific risks associated with travel (e.g. illness, injury, and death).
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance, on the other hand, covers you against the risk of accidental death (e.g. due to an accident or trauma) and/or against the risk of loss of limb or limb (e.g. if you were involved in a car accident).
In most cases, accident insurance will cover you for the entire cost of hospitalization and medical bills, as well as for a loss of income due to being ill or injured – so long as you meet the right criteria (e.g. legal residency in the US, income under $100,000 annually, health insurance coverage, etc.).
Accidental death and dismemberment insurance doesn’t usually cover you for the cost of travel – although this can vary by policy, it’s not typically part of the package. In cases where the policy does cover travel expenses, it typically covers only a few destinations (around 3 or 4 per year).
If you are planning on travelling internationally, make sure to purchase extra insurance coverage for out-of-country travel – if you have to file a claim, you don’t want to be without coverage.
An often-overlooked advantage of having travel insurance is that it gives you the peace of mind that comes with knowing you have coverage in case of an emergency – many individuals who have traveled internationally have learned the hard way what happens when you don’t have travel insurance (e.g. they got sick or injured while abroad and had to file for a medical claim, which was sometimes denied or highly-questioned).
So, as you can see, travel insurance and accidental death and dismemberment insurance are two very different types of products, but they both serve the same purpose – to make sure that you are protected in case you get sick or injured while traveling.
Does Travel Insurance Cover The Cost Of Medication And Treatments?
Medication and treatments for illnesses which you acquire while abroad are often not covered by your travel insurance. This can vary by policy, but in cases where the medication is not prescribed for the condition you have while abroad (such as malaria medications or antibiotics), it’s unlikely that the insurance company will cover the cost of the medication – although they may cover the cost of hospitalization and/or medical exams, they often do not cover treatment costs.
However, if you are in a country where the medication is widely available, it’s a good idea to bring your private medication insurance coverage with you – at least then, you will be guaranteed coverage for the treatments for which you have a prescription or are otherwise eligible.
What Is The Timeline For A Travel Insurance Claim?
The timeline for a travel insurance claim varies by policy, but generally, you have to submit an initial claim within 30 days of the end of your trip (this is to ensure that the insurance company has enough time to process your claim and issue a check in the event you meet the right criteria).
You can then submit a second claim within twelve months of the end of your trip (as long as you have paid the first claim).
In some cases, you have to wait until you are back home and then file the claim – if you are away for more than twelve months, it’s probably best to wait until you get back, as you may have to submit a retroactive claim, which can be very expensive, especially if you have to travel abroad for treatment, as you will have to pay for the entire treatment, including travel expenses, yourself.
If you have a question about whether or not your travel insurance covers a certain cost or risk, it’s probably best to ask your travel insurance provider – they will be able to give you a better idea of what is and isn’t covered by your policy, as well as how much you will need to pay out of pocket in the event of a claim.