I'm going to be travelling around South America for a few months, and I'm a little confused about what to do for health and travel insurance. I know World Nomads has great travel insurance, but from a phone conversation with them, they said you need to file a claim with your primary health insurance first since they are considered extra insurance. So do I need to pay for both health and travel insurance while I'm there? Or should I get that comprehensive medical travel insurance I've read about (and who do you get that through?)? Please help! This stuff is so confusing. Also note, I will be doing a lot of adventure stuff, so I need something that covers all of that like World Nomad.
It is confusing and unfortunately there isn't a completely straightforward answer, and because of the nature of insurance companies there's no guarantee in any circumstance everything will play out as you hoped if something was needed. Take a look at the explanation given by this WN rep that sums it up pretty nicely: http://answers.worldnomads.com/questions/all-locations/16195/will-worldnomads-honor-my-claims-even-if-i-dont-have-a-primary-insurance-provider
Basically, WN's main goal will be to cover you in case of emergency and get you back home. In addition they'll cover you for things like theft protection and trip protection if needed (and your ccard, airline, etc doesn't pick up the tab). What they don't cover is ongoing medical expenses when you're home. You'll need to decide whether you want additional insurance for that. It will be more expensive but will cover if something serious that requires long term care is required, and will protect you from "gap surcharges", as described a bit here: http://www.traveling9to5.com/2012/02/the-single-best-insurance-for-long-term-travelers/
To attempt to provide a brief summary of what could happen and coverage options:
1) Basic Doctor's visits and pharmacy purchases: Out of pocket
2) Trip and theft insurance (also rental car and other things associated with travel): Can be covered by World Nomads if you don't have a credit card that does
3) Emergency evacuation and medical care: This is the main reason for World Nomads and insurance like it. If things really go pear-shaped they'll get you emergency care and back home
4) Ongoing medical expenses at home: You can purchase additional insurance to cover for this.
Travel insurance companies will only cover for medical treatment abroad. If you get seriously ill, they will repatriate you (as soon as your condition allows), but not pay for the ongoing treatment in your country of residence. That's why you need health insurance in your home country even while travelling. If you don't have such, you will need an expat health insurance instead of a travel insurance.
For other travel insurance companies like WN have a look on this site:
I am an insurance agent and I travel the world. This is the company that I use. You can apply directly from the link that I am sending you. The Travel Medical policy is for Medical only coverage. The Trip Protector covers Trip Cancellation, etc and Medical coverage. We have more extensive Medical plans if you prefer. Feel Free to give me a call if want to look at other plans.
You can also check out:
International SOS. They provide 24x7 service with US doctors and nurses to call and translate with clinics that they have vetted internationally to provide Western style of care. Our daughter was sick in Hanoi and they called their Hanoi clinic and had the doctor there call her daily to assess her. She went in and got treated for dehydration/fever/ diarrhea. It was a great peace of mind to know they can recommend a clinic and coordinate the service level.
Check your Amex card, if you bought your travel using Amex credit card you may likely be covered if your travel insurance is activated. If I do not use my Amex card, I usually use Travelguard.
I've used a company called imglobal.com on numerous long term trips and they were great. I got sick in Thailand and was hospitalized for dengue in Bali and all costs were reimbursed and paid with no problems. They also offer a sports rider option that covers more adventurous activities.
It's not that confusing. TravelCare is a company that specializes in travel health. For the past 10 years we've helped millions of people travel the globe while staying healthy. We created our own international medical insurance and evacuation service for the whopping price of $4.80 per day.
This is the same coverage that corporate travelers have except this is for consumers. The coverage is great and we hope you never have to use it but just in case... If you get really sick or injured and have to airlifted, evacuated, require emergency surgery, etc, this product will cover you. To order or get a quote visit: travelcare.com
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FAQ's about International Medical Insurance and Evacuation
Again, it's only $4.80 per day per traveler for comprehensive medical coverage and evacuation service.
I travelled South America for 6 months with Alpha Insurance. It was about 100GBP and I claimed on it too. Brilliant providers. I have written a post about the best long term travel insurance on my travel site as I have used quite a few over the years: http://www.coffeewithasliceoflife.com/2014/09/26/the-best-long-term-backpacking-insurance/
If you're an American Express cardholder, you have travel insurance, check with them before making any purchases since there's probably no need for that.
Things to consider looking for in a travel insurance policy are medical evacuation (mede-vac) so that you can get to adequate facilities in an emergency and repatriation, which is the return of an insured traveler's body home if they die while traveling. Some health insurance companies will extend coverage while traveling but you should check on this before leaving and carry the appropriate documentation. Trip interruption and baggage/property insurance are other types of coverage to consider.