Our Guest Writers Yvonne and Michael Bauche highlight the importance of a good travel insurance policy and what to look out for in the small print in their new book, The Globetrotters Guide to Travel Insurance. In our view if you can’t afford travel insurance you can’t afford to travel. Here they share with us their experiences, but first a little about them.
Yvonne Bauche is a full-time roving retiree with her husband Michael.
Since April 2012, they have visited over 30 countries and perfected the art of paying zero for accommodation through house and pet sitting.
They are co-authors of The Ultimate Housesitters Program with International Living and co-contributors to Your Escape Blueprint where they cover all there is to know about the Nomadic Retiree Lifestyle.
Like other long-term travelers, one of our biggest concerns, costs and hassles was finding and purchasing travel insurance. We even considered going without, or ‘going naked’ after discussions with travelers who do go the ‘naked’ route and travel with no medical insurance at all.
That was before we realized exactly how necessary travel insurance actually is.
On January 1st, 2015, my husband Michael was fit and healthy and we were enjoying celebrating the New Year with family and friends.
The next day he was in the emergency room with a serious life threatening condition. Completely out of the blue and still with no known cause, Michael had developed deep vein thrombosis, which resulted in a ‘massive’ saddle pulmonary embolism. A clot had developed in his leg, broken loose and travelled through his heart before being pumped into the fine network of veins that carry blood to the lungs to be oxygenated. We later found out that this type of embolism typically has a 15 to 25% mortality rate.
Fortunately, we were in our home province and close to the best trauma hospital in the area. A hospital Michael was a patient in for over two weeks.
We were also very fortunate with our timing. Three days later, we would have been in Miami, Florida on route to Honduras. The medical system in the United States is world class but as a Canadian, it also carries a world-class price tag. The costs for a two-week hospitalization plus ultrasounds, CAT Scans and MRI’s plus drugs and blood work 3 or 4 times a day, would have crippled us financially and have put an end to our roving retiree lifestyle.
The health care system in Utila, Honduras, on the other hand, is inexpensive but would have been woefully inadequate to diagnose, let alone provide the necessary treatment. If this had happened in Utila, the outcome could have been much, much worse.
We did have medical travel insurance ready to take effect before the incident happened. However, after seeing the full extent of the care Michael needed and received the question was “ Would that insurance policy have covered us if this had happened while traveling? ”
This niggling question and the ensuing battle with our credit card company over our trip cancellation coverage made us look long and hard at what types of coverage are available and reassess our specific needs.
Even though I have a background in the insurance industry, I was surprised at what we found. Grounded for a few months, we started digging into the fine print and soon realized that not all insurance policies or insurers are equal. Where you call home and what coverage you have their, also affects which insurers will cover you and the extent of your insurance needs.
The more we dug, the more we learned which is how The Globetrotters Guide to Travel Insurance book was born. We have condensed everything we have learnt about travel insurance–and not just travel medical insurance–into an easy to read and understand booklet, relevant to all world travelers, not just those hailing from North America.
Here are a few of the things we have learnt about insurance and life………
Stuff happens! Be prepared as the consequences could be financially ruinous.
Many travel insurance providers require that you keep your home countries, state or provincial medical coverage. If you do not have this ‘primary’ coverage in place, they will either not insure you or will only cover any expenses beyond what your primary provider would normally pay.
Travelling as a couple or a family under a single ‘family’ policy has its downsides. Some policies may become void when one party returns home and the others continue to travel, leaving them without insurance coverage. In our experience, purchasing separate policies has been more cost effective, than buying a family policy that covers us both.
The size of the print matters! ~ “The Large print giveth…. and the small print taketh away!” This is especially true with travel insurance offered by credit card companies. They promise wonderful sounding comprehensive travel insurance benefits; however, the fine print reveals a different reality.
Making an insurance claim is not often a smooth process and is often a drawn out battle of wits and determination. There are a number of ways to make the claims process easier. However, the biggest piece of advice we can give is to ensure that you purchase the right policy in the first place. Reading all the fine print and understanding the limits and exclusions, is as enthralling as watching paint dry. Better that, than realizing too late that you bought the wrong policy and that you are not covered for emergency evacuation, repatriation or pre-existing medical conditions.
We go into all of this in much more detail in The Globetrotters Guide to Travel Insurance and a lot more including whether to “go naked, with a bikini, or an overcoat”, how to assess your current coverage, your actual needs, how to find comparative quotes and how to file successful claims, plus 11 ways to reduce your premium.
In case you are wondering, we are still travelling and confident that we have the right insurance just in case life goes sideways once more.
And again, here is the link to The Globetrotters Guide to Travel Insurance – Travel Smarter, Pay Less and Get the Right Coverage”.
Wishing you long, safe and happy travels!