Summer Travel Season Brings Unexpected Risks


Vacations bring the promise of relaxation or adventure in fantastic or exotic locations.   However, if your clients are traveling outside of the United Stated, they also bring unexpected financial risk. 

Most people don’t realize how the differences in health care delivery outside of the United States affects their insurance coverage.   During my 20+ year career in health insurance brokerage I have received multiple, panicked phone calls regarding someone outside of the U.S. having a medical emergency.  

The call which stands out most was from an advisor after his vacationing client’s passport was confiscated, by the Government of a European country, after an emergency appendix removal.  His health insurance coverage would pay the emergency claim - by reimbursing the client after receiving and reviewing a detailed bill, in English, from the provider (a very common policy provision).  This process could take weeks, if not months to complete and the host Government required him to pay for the surgery prior to leaving the country.  After the use of multiple credit cards and some retirement savings, the client was able to pay the bill and returned to the United States with his family. 

What an emotional and financial nightmare, which could have easily been avoided. 

For example, another advisor had a client whose son was going to study in Italy for a semester.  The son decided to leave a few weeks early to do some site seeing.  Since the son’s health insurance coverage through the university program didn't start until classes began, he purchased a travel plan to bridge the gap.   The son was in Rome for less than 4 hours, when he was hit by a Vespa and required several stiches on his leg.  The father called the travel plan’s toll free number, and gave the information to the customer care specialist.  It just so happened one of this company’s international network of assistance centers was very close to the hospital the son was being treated at.  Within an hour, a representative from the insurance company walked to the hospital and provided payment on behalf of the client.  The son continued his travels a little wiser, and paying a lot more attention when crossing the street.

Prior planning and appropriate insurance are the best ways to protect your clients’ health—and bank accounts—when traveling overseas.  Let BUA assist you and your client with easy to understand and afford travel health insurance options.   Give us a call today at 1.800.792.6795.