If you’re planning to travel outside the United States, it’s important to get travel insurance in case something goes wrong while you’re away from home. However, this coverage might not be worth your investment if you don’t take necessary precautions to avoid denied travel insurance claims. Make sure you understand your policy and follow these tips to avoid making mistakes that will result in getting denied or paying more for your claim.
1) Read the fine print
Yes, you should do your homework before purchasing travel insurance. Sometimes, though, even if you’ve done everything right, companies will reject your claim because of technicalities. Before purchasing a policy and checking off all risks included in hopes of avoiding any claim denials, double-check that you’re covered for each and every activity on your trip itinerary.
2) Know your limits
Just because you bought travel insurance doesn’t mean your claim will be paid. You must know what is and isn’t covered under your policy and follow all instructions included with your documentation. A few common exclusions include pre-existing conditions, injuries sustained while participating in an extreme sport, and involuntary emergency repatriation (e.g., a natural disaster). Some insurance companies won’t cover sports-related injuries unless you have medical coverage for them at home.
3) Don’t skip buying travel insurance
It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but if you’re ever unfortunate enough to have your luggage lost or stolen on a trip, insurance will likely be your best option for recourse. Though travel insurance policies may vary by provider, in general they cover lost luggage, medical expenses, trip cancellation and more. If anything happens while you’re traveling abroad—and especially if something unexpected happens—buy travel insurance.
4) Compare all policies
There are many different policies offered by travel insurance companies, each with its own unique set of benefits and exclusions. Make sure you understand exactly what your policy covers and for how much.
5) Have a back up plan (when possible)
If you have travel insurance, it can help cushion some of your trip costs in case something goes wrong. And usually, plans will reimburse you for certain expenses like a medical emergency, lost luggage or trip cancellation. The key here is to know what’s included in your policy and what isn’t—as well as how best to use that coverage when you need it most.
6) Keep documentation up to date
If you’re filing a claim after an unfortunate event, it’s important to remember that claims don’t get processed until they are submitted. It can take anywhere from a few hours or days, depending on your provider and claim type. If you forget to submit your claim right away, then you may find yourself in trouble down the road when it comes time for processing.
7) File claims as soon as possible
If you’re filing a claim, it’s best to do so within 30 days of your incident. The longer you wait after an incident, or any time you take off from a trip, can make it difficult for an insurance company to verify your claim. Claims should be filed in writing. Start by contacting your travel insurance provider; if they aren’t responsive or helpful, look into appealing their decision.
8) Take note of any pre-existing conditions, even if you don’t think they apply
You may think you’re totally healthy, but take a look at your medical records. Do you have any previous injuries or illnesses that could cause complications while traveling? If so, make sure they’re listed on your travel insurance application. Otherwise, they may not cover anything should you encounter problems during your trip.
9) Contact the right person at the right time with the right information
It may sound obvious, but if you find yourself in a situation that requires filing a travel insurance claim, timing is everything. Contact your insurer as soon as possible so you can gather all of your information together and be ready for an expedited claims process. With medical emergencies, filing a claim within 24 hours will significantly improve your chances of approval.
10) Review all medical information with the insurer at claim time
When you’re ready to file a claim, be sure that you have all of your medical records on hand. Your doctor may have prescribed medications or recommended follow-up treatment. It is crucial that you bring a copy of these prescriptions and any other pertinent medical records with you when filing your travel insurance claim. In order for your insurance company to pay for your hospital and doctor bills, they need documentation for every service or medication that was rendered during your visit.