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International Insurance Assistance
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Overseas Travel Insurance

When travelling abroad for any purpose, including treatment or recovery, be sure to take care of your insurance. Specifically for people going abroad, insurance companies generally offer several types of overseas travel insurance policies:

  • standard medical travel insurance (emergency medical care, dental care and services);
  • accident insurance;
  • lost luggage travel insurance;
  • car insurance;
  • trip cancellation and interruption insurance against financial losses in the event your trip is cancelled or interrupted;
  • other types.

Standard Medical Travel Insurance. Today, this type of insurance is a mandatory condition for entering many world countries. The embassies of the countries of the Schengen area and the USA will deny you a visa without an available medical insurance. Medical insurance will also come in handy later on in the foreign country covering medical care expenses in emergency events (sudden illnesses and traumas), as well as the cost of drugs, and even free transportation home of an insured person or repatriation of his/her body. The effective term of such insurance usually coincides with the duration of a trip.

Accident Insurance includes a broader range of payouts than just medical care expenses. In the event of minor traumas, an injured person can expect free treatment and transportation home. And if an insured person should become disabled, an insurer pays a full amount of compensation up to tens of thousands of dollars.

Lost Luggage Travel Insurance. In the event of lost luggage or items, an insurance company undertakes to recompense their cost in part (sometimes in full). Moreover, such policy is also effective for fires, terrorist attacks, natural calamities, and traffic accidents. This is a very popular insurance type for travellers setting out to the countries with unstable political and criminal situation. However, this policy will not be of use if you lose luggage through your own negligence.

Civil Liability Insurance covers the events when an insured person inflicts unintended harm to another person’s health. The fact that the occurrence was an incident must be stated and proven. Importantly, this insurance will not be paid when harm was inflicted under the effect of alcohol or drugs.

Trip Cancellation and Interruption Insurance

Such insurance type will be helpful to those concerned about any unforeseen events which could result in trip cancellation in the scheduled time. Indeed, there is always a risk that having paid for surgical treatment or a recovery trip you might suddenly fall ill or be denied a visa. An insured tourist has the possibility to receive a full repayment of all expenses. However, this insurance policy does not usually cover the events of trip cancellation for reasons such as insured person’s own will, violation of law, visa denial, problems with the law or violations made during previous visits to the country.

Private Car Overseas Travelling Insurance

You might choose to travel by your private car for treatment or recovery abroad. When going abroad by car, depending on the country, you will need to consider obtaining the following insurance policies: civil liability insurance policy (typically a Green Card certificate), CASCO insurance policy with coverage in the countries you are interested in.

If you have got a CASCO insurance policy already, then you will need to make it effective on the territory of another country by concluding a supplementary agreement on expanding the insurance territory before the trip. Some insurance companies perform it for free for European, CIS and Baltic countries, other companies will require additional payment.

To cross boarders and move around the territory of most European countries without hindrances, you will need to obtain a Green Card insurance certificate. This is an international certificate of civil liability insurance for motor vehicle owners which is drawn up in any of the forms approved by the Council of Bureaux. Today, the Green Card system encompasses national insurance bureaux of 44 participating countries, including almost all European countries, Ukraine, Belarus, Israel, Morocco, Tunisia, Iran. They are united in one single organisation — the Council of Bureaux headquartered in London.

Green Card insurance policy is drawn up on a special green-coloured form (hence the name). After being duly filled in and effected, it certifies availability of a mandatory liability car insurance on the territory of all countries within the Green Card system.

To obtain a Green Card policy you will need an application of the policy holder, driver’s license, and motor vehicle documentation.

Other Types of Insurance Policies

Among other types of insurance policies for those travelling abroad for recovery purposes we may specifically mention outdoor recreation insurance. This type of insurance is intended for lovers of extreme recreation activities: diving, mountain biking, surfing, rafting, hang gliding, etc. Such recreation has always been associated with increased risks, hence the particular attention on the side of insurers. At times, they even draw up special sports insurances for such purposes.

What Affects the Cost of an Insurance Policy

Various insurance companies offer medical overseas travel insurance policies at different prices. When calculating the cost of medical insurance, they account for fees, types of medical services covered, and also the following factors:

  • trip duration;
  • chosen insurance type (the higher the risk level, the more you need to pay);
  • country of stay (e.g., an insurance for the countries of Western Europe will turn out much more expensive than for Turkey);
  • franchise availability (previously specified amount which is not to be recompensed);
  • age of an insured person (elderly people will have to pay a lot more for their insurance policy than younger ones). 

Medical Insurance for the Countries of the Schengen Area

Obtaining a medical insurance for the Schengen area implies a number of peculiarities:
  • medical insurance must cover the whole effective term of the Schengen visa;
  • such insurance is effective for all the countries that have signed the Schengen agreement;
  • insurance policy is usually drawn up without a franchise (or not more than €100);
  • liability by an insurance must not be less than €30,000;
  • an insurance should cover all medical services which are available in emergency events.

Today, the Schengen area includes: Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, Denmark, Iceland, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Malta, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Finland, France, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, and Estonia.

General tips on insuring a trip abroad

When obtaining any insurance policy, take time to study attentively all the points it includes. First of all, you need to select the appropriate type of insurance policy. In the vast majority of insurance companies, overseas travel insurance policy is comprehensive and includes a range of insurance types arranged in various programmes. In the international practice these programmes have been tentatively termed as A, B, C, and D. Therefore, you need to select the one most suitable exactly for you. Cheaper programmes cover only medical expenses and emergency events. This is suitable for tourists going for a resort recovery course. Surely, they have no need to pay for evacuation or technical aid if they are travelling there in a plane. If you are driving your private car, you need to insure other events also: your policy must cover technical aid, legal support, administrative expenses, etc.

Don’t hesitate to demand detailed information and specification of insured events. For example, the policy may cover animal bites but not poisonings with exotic plant toxins. It is especially relevant for exotic countries, where you may also encounter sharks along with dangerous plants and animals. Shark bite should be regarded an insured event just as the bite of any animal or insect, because it falls under the definition of an accident — short-term event occurring abruptly, independently of the will of an insured person, and resulting in trauma, disease or death. In such case, animal bite will be classified as traumatic damage. Although the policy will cover such an event only if an insured person takes all required precautionary measures and does not breach any official bans. Such events need not be covered by a specific policy — a regular medical overseas travel insurance policy will suffice.

You should previously discuss all trip details with your insurance company managers (medical tourism facilitator), in particular, inform that you are going for treatment or recovery, which sometimes may influence the cost of an insurance policy.

Note that insurance amount must necessarily cover all emergency medical services in the country of stay, as well as any expenses related to an emergency return home or to medical necessity. The data in the policy must be duplicated in electronic form and necessarily typed in and not filled in by hand, because policies with handwritten information will not be accepted.

Typically, insurance companies offer two options for using insurance amounts should an insured event occur. In the first instance, an insured person may pay in cash for medical care rendered on the spot and receive compensation on returning home (such option is possible if the amount is not over €150-200). In the second instance, a person may receive free service after coordinating his/her actions with the service dispatch centre in charge of arranging the required medical care (telephones of the centre are specified in the insurance policy).

Standard medical insurance policy includes medical and medical transportation services as separate expense items.

Dental services are very limited, and the insurer will most times recompense only the cost of emergency dental services related to acute dental pain relief, simple filling or repair of dental prosthetics in order to avoid complications during food intake.

Medical transportation services in case of lethal outcome — implying transportation of the body to the homeland or its burial abroad, repatriation of remains, visits of close relatives to the grave, transportation to a specialized medical centre, return home of underage children of an insured person, telephone call-notification that an insured event occurred — may also be included in the insurance coverage.

You should not purchase the so called ‘compensation insurances’. In other words, this insurance implies treatment at the patient’s cost with further recompense by the insurance company. Since the outbreak of the global economic crisis, many insurance companies started to delay the compensation payment process. You should not purchase polices with a franchise over €200. With such a franchise, an insurance policy may appear a simple formality, for service coverage may become solely your personal problem.

A full and complete insurance policy should be handed over to you. Take your time to study its content thoroughly. Pay particular attention to what your actions will be should an insured event occur. Be sure to check all dates — you should be insured for the whole period of stay abroad, including the day of arrival and departure.

If an insured event does occur, you should first dial the number of the insurer’s specialized service (telephone numbers are usually specified in the insurance policy and on a special card). If you are unable to do so immediately after an insured event occurred — for instance, there are no communication means at the event site, or an insured person is unconscious (and with no one to represent his/her interests), or it is impossible to make any calls without immediate emergency medical care rendered — then the insurer should be informed as soon as possible, but no later than within 24 hours.

If you happen to get involved in a traffic accident abroad, you should call the police — they will complete a protocol specifying the events of an accident, its participants, and the list of incurred damage, and provide your Green Card data. The protocol is completed in two languages — of your country of stay and English. You should necessarily take one copy with you (you will need it for receiving a compensation).

Remember that Green Card is not a panacea for all your woes. In case of gross violations you will have to answer a lawsuit in court. Such violations include, in particular, traffic accidents with casualties, drunken driving, and any improper activities on the road.

In the event of traffic accident in the country of stay, you should apply to the local insurer who sold an insurance policy to the accident initiator. If the accident initiator is a foreigner, compensation will be paid by the national Green Card bureau of the country of stay. And this bureau will in its turn collect the compensation amount from the company, which had insured the accident initiator’s liability.

Mind that an insurer will often recompense the expenses incurred by an insured person only after an insurer receives a written justification of such expenses with necessary documentary proof, usually in the amount up to €100. Insurance companies do not practice recompensing amounts over the specified limit, unless you have otherwise agreed in advance and in written form. Also, in case of late notification about the accident, insurance companies will demand a written justification of the reasons that the fixed time was violated from an insured person.

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