Most vacations and trips go smoothly and without any issues. However, even the best laid plans can go awry at times. Here are some of the most common travel emergencies you are likely to encounter and how you can get assistance with them if you do.
- Sick/Need Medical Assistance - Prior to your trip, contact your insurance company to verify that your coverage is valid overseas. If you are not covered when traveling abroad, consider purchasing a short-term travel health insurance policy. If you opt not to purchase a short-term policy, be sure to search the Internet and locate contact information for the US Consulate in your destination city. If you do have a medical emergency while visiting a foreign country, immediately contact a Consular officer and inquire as to which hospitals treat Americans.
If you have a medical emergency in your home country, contact your health insurance company and request guidance. They may be able to direct you to an in-network physician in your area.
- Lost/Stolen Passport - If your passport is stolen or misplaced, contact the closest US Embassy or Consulate and request assistance. You will most likely need to travel to the Embassy or Consulate and undergo an interview providing as much detail about yourself to prove your identity. If a friend or family member is available to assist you from home, have them contact the Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647.5225 and ask them to apply for a replacement for you; this will speed up the process.
- Lost/Stolen Money - First, retrace your steps to try and to locate your lost belongings. If you are unsuccessful in locating your wallet, contact your credit card companies, if possible, to have your credit cards deactivated immediately. The credit card company will be able to work with you to have your hotel bill satisfied even though you don’t have possession of your card. If traveler’s checks were stolen, contact the bank that issued the checks. Most likely they will void the checks and can quickly send out replacement checks to you.
If you are stranded in a foreign country without money or any forms of identification, visit the Embassy or Consulate office as soon as you are able. They can provide you with guidance and provide the necessary paperwork to get you on a plane and return home even without a passport.
- Auto Accident – Contact the police immediately and fill out a police report. Do not admit blame even if the accident was your fault. The police will assist you with exchanging insurance information with other involved parties. If you are renting a vehicle, consider purchasing the rental company’s accident protection. Usually this coverage is available for a small additional daily fee and will allow you to return the car without being liable for damages from an accident.
- Flight Delays/Concerns – If your flight is delayed, call the airline or check with the ticket counter. If the delay is due to mechanical difficulties or within the airline’s control, the airline will provide you with vouchers for a hotel stay (if necessary), as well as for meals. If you missed your flight and booked through a travel agent, contact your travel agent for assistance and information on future flights. If you purchased travel insurance, be sure to contact the company you purchased from and inform them of the situation.
- Lost/Damaged Luggage – If your luggage was lost or damaged during your flight, contact the airline immediately (near the baggage claim area) upon arrival to your destination, and prior to leaving the airport. Airlines will usually require you document your loss and request information on where you are staying during your trip. If your luggage is located quickly, the airline will contact you and make arrangements for delivery to your location. Some airlines may reimburse you enough money to purchase necessary items until your luggage can be located.
- Need Legal Assistance - If you are arrested or require legal assistance outside of the United States, contact the US Embassy or Consulate and inquire as to whether they can recommend attorneys who can assist you. The Consulate may also be able to arrange for money to be transferred from the United States if needed to assist with your legal defense. Keep in mind that you will be subject to the laws of your destination country.
US Travel Insurance Association (UStiA)
UStiA is a national association of insurance carriers, third-party administrators, insurance agencies and related businesses involved in the development, administration and marketing of travel insurance and travel assistance products.