Even the best laid plans can go awry, and when the unexpected happens far from home, it's nice to know that help just a phone call away.
If you purchase a comprehensive travel insurance policy before you leave on your trip, you can call the 24/7 help line provided, and ask for assistance to tackle unforeseen problems. A comprehensive insurance policy provides two levels of protection – insurance and assistance services - two policies in one.
Traditional travel insurance provides financial reimbursement for expenses such as trip cancellation, interruption or delay, lost or stolen luggage, and emergency medical care. Travel assistance, a vital part of most comprehensive travel insurance policies, provides around-the-clock and around-the-world services in emergency and other situations. A 24/7 hotline provided with the travel insurance policy helps with any number of problems a traveler may encounter: local medical or legal issues, the need to arrange a medical evacuation, refill a prescription, track lost luggage, access translation services, as well as rerouting travel itineraries from destinations where there may be strife or a natural catastrophe. In some cases, travel assistance may also include concierge services to help you obtain theatre tickets or make dining and event reservations.
While most comprehensive travel insurance policies include travel assistance services, these services are also available other ways.
The following guidelines may be helpful as you assess your needs:
- Comprehensive travel insurance policies generally combine reimbursement for covered
financial expenses and assistance into one umbrella package.
- People who are not concerned about financial reimbursement, but who seek assistance - including those living, working, or studying abroad or travelling to more remote areas - might consider an assistance plan. The services included in these plans can offer 24-hour, multilingual emergency help, intelligence briefings on international destinations, and travel related help. Some policies also include medical insurance benefits for international travel.
- Travelers concerned primarily with medical protection can purchase a medical travel insurance policy. Short-term medical policies for international travelers provide health insurance and access to qualified local medical providers. Most also include a limited trip interruption or baggage loss benefit. Expatriate Medical, geared for those living, working, and studying abroad, provides a wider array of extended health benefit options not usually included under standard travel insurance policies, like vision and preventive care.
- Whatever type of travel insurance or assistance you purchase, you should check your homeowners insurance, medical insurance, and credit cards to be aware of your coverage and its limitations. Then, review the travel insurance or assistance policy carefully and be sure you understand what it includes to ensure that you are adequately covered.