Some travel insurance can protect against the loss of non-refundable travel costs such as air fare or hotel costs. Other travel insurance plans offer protection against financial loss due to medical emergencies, damage to personal property and death.
- Trip Cancellation - Reimburses you for pre-paid travel expenses if you have to cancel your trip due to unforeseen situations such as illness, death or other conflicts.
- Travel Delay - Reimbursement for out of pocket expenses if you have to delay your flight due to circumstances beyond your control, such as flight delay or cancellation.
- Medical or Health - Reimburses out of pocket expenses for medical or dental emergencies, including those not covered by your major medical plan.
- Medical Evacuation - Transport to a hospital near your location or back home.
Air ambulance charges, even for local transport, can run $5,000 or more. If you have to be returned to your home country, a charge of $30,000+ is not out of the ordinary.
Another concern, especially when traveling to a foreign country, is the need for translation of medical records. If you have something serious enough that may require follow up treatment, your doctor(s) back home may not have the ability to read Mandarin. Translation of medical records can easily run in the thousands but is a common benefit included in travel insurance plans.
If you are on Medicare you should be aware that you have no coverage outside the U.S. borders in most cases. Some (but not all) Medigap plans have limited coverage up to $50,000 for travel outside the United States.
Travel insurance policies are written on a "stand alone" basis but are best used as an adjunct to major medical coverage. As Karl Malden used to say, "Don't leave home without it".