When you’re going abroad, it is of utmost importance to set up yourself with good travel insurance.
By travel insurance, we usually mean insurance that will cover your emergency health needs such as hospitalization, ambulance costs and transportation back to your country if needed. Such travel insurance will also include protection against damage to luggage or personal property including theft. It will also compensate you for flight delays beyond a certain number of hours, as well as cancellations.
So how do you get travel insurance? Here are the options. I will be mentioning Spanish companies but the concept applies anywhere.
1. Buy Dedicated Travel Insurance
You could also use a travel insurance aggregator to compare offers from various providers at once. One of my favorite aggregators is Hey Mondo.
2. Use Your Credit Card’s Insurance Facility
Many credit cards offer travel insurance as part of the card’s perks. I currently have the ING Direct credit card which features travel insurance as one of its benefits. It’s also free, which is a great deal. Note that to be covered by the card’s insurance, you usually need to purchase the flight tickets and book the hotels from that card.
Here’s what Ing Direct’s website says about the travel insurance benefits of its credit card:
¿Quieres irte de viaje muy tranquilo? Paga el billete con tu tarjeta de crédito y disfrutarás de un seguro de accidentes de viaje con una cobertura de hasta 150.000 €.
Además, si pagas con ella tu billete, hotel o cualquier otro concepto relacionado con tu viaje, disfrutarás también de un seguro de asistencia en viaje con una cobertura de hasta 4.500 € que incluye gastos médicos, daños al equipaje, retrasos en viajes y responsabilidad civil.
3. Use Your Private Health Insurance
Here in Spain, I’m insured by Sanitas private health insurance, and as part of the package I get emergency health insurance worldwide, with a limit of €12,000. This is usually enough for most travel needs.
Here’s what Sanitas say about this:
The policy has cover abroad for emergencies, in the course of 90 consecutive days in any country worldwide, up to a maximum of 12.000 per insured and year.
If you need medical assistance abroad, please first contact us at +34 91 345 65 84. You can make a collect call and we will provide you with all the instructions to achieve the best medical care.
If you wish to expand your coverage abroad, you can contract Sanitas Travel, an insurance which offers international healthcare and services such as compensation in case of death or baggage coverage. It is a custom insurance according to the number of days, transport, number of travelers and destination. You can find more information at sanitas.es.
4. Use the European Health Insurance Card (only in the European Union)
If you are tax resident in the European Union and you’re paying social security in your country of residence, you are entitled to get the European Health Insurance Card. This will cover your health emergency expenses abroad in the same way as you would be covered if you needed any services back in your country of residence. It’s important to remember that this is only valid for countries that are a member of the European Union.
Things to Keep in Mind
Remember that every policy has particular limits, so please do read the policy document carefully. If you’re traveling to places where health care costs are high, such as the USA or Canada, make sure you have higher limits on your policy. For those countries, I would recommend having a limit of €100,000 minimum because an overnight stay at a hospital due to a broken leg or arm can really cost a lot of money there.
If you have kids, make sure that the insurance you plan to use also covers them. If not, take out a separate insurance policy for them.
Although I am covered by my private health insurance, I take out separate insurance specifically for any days I plan to spend in the USA or Canada. Note that the private health insurance only covers medical expenses, and does not provide cover for cancellation of the trip due to flight changes or illnesses, for example.
If you have kids I recommend taking out a separate insurance that also covers these events, especially when the cost of the trip is elevated or it’s a long trip, since kids can be very unpredictable and can get sick pretty easily. As an adult you can grin and bear a trip when sick, but with an infant or child things are much more uncomfortable for them and for you as a parent.
As always, leave any questions in the comments below and I’ll do my best to give you good answers.